Sorry for this, but as we approach the new year, this weighs heavy on my mind, and in some strange, unexplainable way, writing it out helps to ease my troubled mind.
In the forty-five years I’ve roamed this rock we call Earth, I’ve never made a New Years resolution, at least not one that amounted to much. I guess I know myself well enough to realize that I’ll never see lofty goals through to fruition. I like to think of myself as the one who always lives up to my own low expectations, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Don’t set the bar too high, and you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you can clear it.
All joking aside, 2016 has been about the worst year of my life. In May, my wife of 22 years was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer which has also spread to her liver. Just this past week, after 12 grueling rounds of chemotherapy, our oncologist informed us the tumors on her liver are inoperable and the effectiveness of standard chemo has plateaued. We still have a couple of options available that give us hope for a favorable outcome and have given our full trust to the doctors, and our undying faith to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
That being said, 2017 will be a year we will all have to remain incredibly strong. It will also be a year for life altering, monumental decisions, some of which have already been set into motion. First of all, my family has made the incredibly difficult decision to close our retail business indefinitely. Instead we’ll shift our focus to wholesale, a segment that has shown steady growth over the past several years. We hope the extra time can help us concentrate on her treatment and be there for her on the front lines as she battles an invisible enemy from within. Hopefully, as we traverse the upcoming year, we can spend some time reconnecting as a family, something so many of us neglect in the chaos of everyday life.
As far as writing goes, well, who knows? I hope I can still keep hammering some things out and plan to keep refining my novel as time permits. Throughout this entire ordeal, I’ve found writing a fantastic form of therapy, a wonderful aid in helping me sort out my feelings and fears.
Regarding resolutions? One word sums it up: Hope. I hope we reach the end of 2017 complete, together, and unbroken. Somewhere along the way I hope we find something positive to cleave to under the storm clouds looming above, and most importantly, wherever this journey leads us, I hope we all reach our destination as better versions of ourselves.
The New Year is a great time to reflect on the changes we want to or need to make. If you’re a student looking at ways to improve yourself and make the transition to college easier, International College Counselors offers a few more resolutions you might want to add to your list.
1. Stop procrastinating. How often have you underestimated how much time it will take to get something done? Then, how sad are you when you don’t have the time to do your best. At some point, the procrastinator has to write four college essays in one night – on top of completing schoolwork. Usually, this doesn’t turn out so well. If you finish a project earlier than you thought you would, then consider yourself ahead.
2. Commit yourself to getting good grades. Good grades are entirely necessary to get into a good school unless you’re a top notch athlete. The best case scenario is that you have good grades from the beginning. However, if you start off badly and improve your grades, colleges will give you points for this. Many admissions officers won’t look at your application if your grades are too low or show a steady decline. Spending a night studying while your friends play Wii may not excite you, but you need to look at this long-term. Think of it this way, grades are a bridge. They will serve you to get into a college where you will have more freedom. In college, grades may not be as important as in high school.
3. Don’t do it all. It’s better to concentrate on a few things and excel in them than if you join every sport, activity and club that you can cram into your schedule. Anyone can join 10 clubs and be marginally involved in them all. Schools are looking for commitment that shows you’re willing to stick with something and make the most of it.
4. Keep a calendar. Deadlines creep up quickly. And the closer the date, the more you’ll feel the pressure. Most students don’t do their best under pressure. And colleges, scholarships, federal aid, and standardized testing services are not going to be sympathetic to any excuses you have about missing a deadline. If you miss a deadline, you miss an opportunity.
5. Take standardized tests early. You won’t know how high you can score until you take the test. Wait too long and you won’t have enough time to retake it. And many things can affect your test score on any given day, including the state of your health, and you can’t plan not to get the flu or food poisoning. Taking the test early will also allow time to take a test prep course if necessary.
6. Do your research. Know what the choices are when it comes to colleges. This way you can avoid any coulda, shoulda, woulda regrets later in life. Research could be as simple as visiting a school’s website.
7. Try something new. High school is a great time to spread your wings. It’s about new experiences and self-discovery. Want a certain internship, there’s no harm in calling up and asking if they have any room for an eager high school student to work there. Want to try a new sport or activity, go ahead and try it. You’re not expected to leave high school knowing exactly what you want to do, but this is a chance to start narrowing down your interests. You’ll never know what you like – or how good you are at something – until you try something.
8. Be excited about going to college. Wherever you go to college, you’re going to meet new people, learn new things, and have a great time. That’s reason enough to be excited whether you end up attending a first choice school or a safety.
9. Do what your college counselor tells you. Students: We at International College Counselors are here to get you what you want out of life.
10. Banish the self-doubt. Doubting your own abilities only holds you back from achieving what you want to achieve. Just say no to these thoughts and others like them:
“I can’t do this.”
“I’m not as smart as my classmates.”
“I’ll never get better than a 2.7 grade-point average.”
“I’ll only get into a community college anyway”
“There’s no point in thinking I’ll get into my first choice college.”