Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Welcome, 2011!
The Year of the Realistic Resolution

Sometimes, we just have too much on our plates. It’s ironic to use that expression around the holidays, but it certainly can be appropriate. We’re torn between schoolwork and housework, friends and family, year-end tasks and New Year’s resolutions. That’s why I’m always glad to move past the holidays and begin a new year. Sure, it’s scary and unknown. But it’s also exciting, fresh and new. So clear that plate; it’s on to a new year!

Whether or not we make resolutions, we generally start the year with good intentions: setting objectives, eating healthy, exercising more, listening to others, or [you fill in the blank]. We’re filled with nervous energy, and we’re anxious to effect positive change. Some of us make the most of the situation. Others, however, fall back on old habits. This is especially true for parents of college applicants, and the students themselves.

Take the overanxious parent, for example. Who could argue that it’s not tempting to step in and help an overwhelmed junior by making phone calls to admissions offices and arranging college visits, even if they’re to parents’ top choices? Are parents acting at the request of their sons or daughters, on behalf of their children or for their own peace of mind? Students, grappling with quizzes, tests and papers, get bogged down in details, and when they need guidance and validation, they would just as soon e-mail a friend than go see a teacher. Others succumb to the tempting Internet rather than concentrating on the tasks at hand.

So it sounds like resolutions would be very welcome, but only if they’re realistic. Here are some suggestions:

Realistic New Year’s Resolutions – Parent
• Set realistic expectations for your child
• Don’t do your child’s work
• Check online grading systems regularly
• Step in if needed to avert a crisis
• Insist that your student see his or her teachers

Realistic New Year’s Resolutions – Student
• See your teachers regularly, even if you’re doing well
• Be choosy about your extracurriculars; don’t overbook!
• Work on vocabulary, critical reading and test-taking skills
• Post a list of target schools, and look at it regularly

Post these resolutions and look at them regularly.

Best wishes for a productive 2011!