Episode 001 Transcript:
Your 2020 Goal Setting and Planning
January 8, 2020 by Ruchi S. Kothari
Hey guys, welcome to the episodes Be Collegebound with IvyBound! I’m your host, Ruchi S. Kothari. I’m super excited that you’ve joined me.
Be CollegeBound with IvyBound is a series designed for people like you– high schoolers and their parents, where I advise, guide and support you through your college admissions journey, offering you admissions tips, tricks, and secrets to stand out and present your “best self” on your college applications. These strategies are easy to implement yet very impactful, helping you to get admitted into the college of your dreams, and create a future that you would love.
Do you want to get into your dream school? Of course you do. Well, stay tuned..
This is my very first episode, WHAT an amazing way to start out the year. There’s something to say about the beginning of a new year as we all start fresh with a clean slate. Keeping that in mind, our first episode is about Your 2020 Goal Setting and Planning for the year. This is a good one, a good exercise that you or your child should do every January and again in August/September, when it is the start of a new school year. Revisiting your academic and personal goals keeps you on track and prevents you from missing out on important milestones or deadlines, such as taking standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, APs or IB exams.\
And at the end of each episode, I offer live office hours with myself, Ruchi S. Kothari, where I answer three college admissions questions that high schoolers or their parents post. Today, I answer the following questions:
- Is it better to get a B in an AP class or an A in an Honors or regular class?
- What’s a healthy number of colleges to have on your list?
- My mailbox has been inundated by mail from colleges, including thosefrom the Ivies. Is this an indicator of my daughter’s chances of getting admitted?
If you have a burning question, please leave it in the comment box, so I can answer your question next time. I’m so thrilled to help you in any which way I can.
Just so you know, every other week I release an episode as a podcast. And, the following week the same episode as a YouTube video. So I encourage you to go check it out if you need a visual example of the topic discussed. You can find my YouTube channel by searching up Ivybound Consulting. Feel free to check out all of my podcasting videos. And, please don’t forget to subscribe to theBe CollegeBound with IvyBound podcast and YouTube series, and leave me a review in the comments. Thanks so much.
A quick shout out to all the parents who are listening right now, because I get you and all that we do to keep our children constantly nourished, happy and safe. I can even bet, some of you are probably driving your children around, shuttling them from one class to another. I HEAR YAA!!! So, download my podcast series, and when you’re on the go, keep listening. You might pick up some quick and effective college admissions tips, tricks and secrets. Take what you want and leave the rest.
And, all the high schoolers who’ve tuned in a quick shout out to you as well. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen to my podcast series or watch these series on YouTube. Choose the platform that works best for you to pick up quick and effective college admissions tips, tricks and secrets to help you stand out and create winning college applications. Take what you want, share it with your friends, and leave the rest.
Today’s episode is sponsored by IvyBound Consulting, a college admissions company that I created with my life’s mission in mind– to help each and every student of mine to get admitted to the college of their dreams. You can say this is my calling, and I can’t even tell you the delight I feel when I hear about my students pursuing their interest, or excelling in their academic area, or better yet getting into the college of their choice.
You can say, anything and everything about education lights me up– from the quality and type of education, the comprehensiveness of curriculum, the best educators chosen, and the safety of our children have attracted me to this field. I am currently serving on my town’s Board of Education for the second term, I’m an alumni interviewer of Northwestern, and a member of the professional organization of Independent Educational Consultants of America.
As I bring massive clarity and integrity into the college admissions process, I have helped many high schoolers through their journey with the products and services offered at www.ivyboundconsulting.com. And, I hope to help countless more…
On a personal level, I’m a proud mother of three: a high school junior, an incoming high school freshman, and a fifth-grader. Gosh, I love them to death! They are my pride and joy. During my episodes, you’ll be hearing a lot more about my high schoolers and their college admissions journey– the ups and downs, and everything in between.
Ok, let’s get started with your goals for 2020…
I created this interactive bonus just for you: It’s called the Your 2020 Goal Setting and Planning IvyBound Sheet. The link to this pdf is provided in my show notes for this episode at https://ivyboundconsulting.com/001. No need to frantically take notes, I’ve got you covered. Download the transcript and the Your 2020 Goal Setting and Planning IvyBound Sheet, and follow along.
WHAT can I say, I am a big proponent of calendars, goal setting and planning ahead. In the college admissions journey, believe me, planning and preparing for all the deliverable-action items needed for your college applications, are oh soooo important. Real quick, let me tell you about some of these deliverable-action items. They are:
- Your grades and the academic coursework you are taking.
- Standardized test scores (which does require pre-planning, and of course, plenty of time to study)
- Extracurricular activities (including sports)
- How you spend your summers, and
Of course, your essays in your college applications.
Don’t worry, in upcoming episodes, I’ll delve deeper on how you can strengthen each and every component that is needed in your college applications so that admissions officers are WOWed by your applications at the get go, and you are admitted to the colleges of your choice. Some vital and pretty cool stuff, right?
OK, getting back to the topic at hand: Your 2020 goal setting and planning. I honestly believe when you write it down and are intentional with your goals, you take action and just make it happen. Trust me, this really works. All my students swear by this exercise. In fact, when they complete their goal setting and planning, they send a screenshot of themselves with their completed document and share it on their stories along with your biggest takeaway. I’d be thrilled if you’d like to do the same. So, take a screenshot of yourself with the completed document, share it on your stories, and don’t forget to tag me with @ivyboundconsulting and #ivyboundconsultingpodcast or #ivyboundconsultingYouTubevideo. I can’t wait to see them.
Moving right along… You can use this worksheet in two ways, if you’re old school like me, print it out, grab a pen, and complete the questions. Or, you may just start typing your responses in this interactive worksheet, and then print it out later. Whichever method you choose, do what works best for you.
When I created this invaluable document, at least that’s what I feel. I took it to my daughter in hopes to complete it together, maybe make it a family activity where we sip on hot chocolate and talk about future goals and dreams. And everything is peachy cream…
Earth to Ruchi. Please get a reality check. My daughter is a junior in high school (By the way, to respect my daughter’s privacy I won’t be mentioning her name, but I’ll be talking a whole lot about her.) So, where was I, yes, my daughter is in the crux of studying for the ACT, SAT Subject Tests, and APs. She is way too busy to set goals, let alone plan out her year. The furthest she plans is the week ahead to finish up her school assignments or study for tests. And, honestly, she could care less about goal setting and planning. Does this sound like you or your child?
So, when I gave my daughter this goal setting worksheet, she looked at me and said, “You gotta be kidding me, mom. You know me, I hate agendas, calendars, anything to do with dates.” Anticipating this reaction, I left the goal-setting document on her desk and said, “Take a quick look when you have the time. No pressure to fill it out.”
The next day, I went into her room and she had not only completed the worksheet with multiple colored-pens, and had it taped to her wall. What a treat for my eyes! Later, she gave me a hug, thanked me, and went along with her business. I absolutely love and cherish those hugs, whenever I receive them.
So, parents, if your child is like my daughter who hates planning, do what I did– leave it on their desk and give them no pressure, or maybe….. If they’re receptive to it, you can make it an activity that both of you can do together. Wouldn’t that be fun?- To set goals and plan for the year together. Yeah!
Ok, let’s dive into this worksheet. If you have it with you, you can follow along. And, if you’re driving or can’t get too it right now, that’s ok. Just listen along and download it later from the show notes for this episode at https://ivyboundconsulting.com/001
The purpose of this worksheet is for you to see your entire year ahead, and be able to plan and prepare ahead of time, so that you aren’t thrown a curveball. As a high schooler, many steps, like completing your standardized tests on time, as you know, are critical components of your applications. Use this step-by-step guide to help you through your college admissions journey, at whatever stage you might be. Let yourself enjoy this process and keep your mind open to all the possibilities you have.
Looking at Your 2020 Goal Setting and Planning IvyBound Sheet. There are nine questions to answer: Some are self-explanatory, others may require more thought or some time to figure out dates. Let me quickly run through them. Then I’m going to explain each question in more detail, giving you some admissions tips, tricks or secrets along the way, making this the best goal setting and planning activity you’ve ever done. Pretty cool, right?
The questions in this document that I ask you are:
- Year in High School, going into what year (in August/September)
- Your Goal is to put in 100% of yourself in your:
- Extracurricular activity
- Extracurricular activity
- Extracurricular activity
- Your Testing Goals
- Challenges you are facing, and the Solutions you can think of are…
- The People you can go to for Academic and Emotional Support are…
- Milestones or Achievements you will be celebrating are…
- Your Personal Goals are…
- Things you like to do to Relax Myself when I get stressed are…
- Plan out some Vacation or Down Time so that you can unwind, have fun and enjoy life.
Let’s start with Question 1:
- Year in High School, going into what year (in August/September)
This question is a no-brainer. Please write down the year you or your child is in high school, and the year he or she will enter when the new school year starts, this is usually August or September in the US. All my international subscribers, it may be another start date for you. But, you know what I’m getting at. I would complete this question by writing my daughter is a Junior going into her Senior year. Wow, that’s the home stretch with completing applications in the Fall of this year. It’s a big year for her and the family, requiring lots of planning and preparing ahead of time. No worries, we’re all in it together.
Another reason I suggest goal setting in January and again when the new school starts, is because it gives the student and his/her parents, a time to rethink and revisit goals, removing some, add new ones, and of course, celebrate the ones you have completed. More importantly, it also prevents you from writing your goals for the year and then, forgetting about them as the year goes on, and finally reaching a point where you wonder if you even wrote goals. Do you follow me? Does this happen to you?
Moving along to Question 2.
- My Goal is to put in 100% of yourself in your:
- Extracurricular activity
- Extracurricular activity
- Extracurricular activity
So this question requires you to delve deep, and think about what academic classes you are taking at school, or even outside of school. Write down how you may improve specifically in a particular course. The example I have listed is how you might want to consider writing your goals. My example is: My goal is to put 100% in studying for math tests in Calculus AB, ahead of time and striving for an A in the class. Remember, the more specific you are the better you will reach your goals. If you need to pause this podcast or the YouTube video, please do so.
So, continue with your goals with your extracurricular activities. I provide you with three boxes to enter your goals for your specific activity. I know for many of you, this might not be enough. You can combine the extracurricular activities, or enter one in section h) of this question, specified as “Other”. Please continue to enter any sports that you play; or enter the arts, like painting or theater; or music, like the choir or the band, you may be involved in. Think about the goals you might have for each activity. Write it down, and make it happen! For instance, you might write your goal is to practice the piano 4 hours of week at home. Again, in order for you to best implement your goals, please be specific in naming the activities and the actions you will take to achieve your desired goal. Ok, this is really important, so I’m going to say it again. Be specific in naming the activities and the actions you will take to achieve your desired goal. Finally, if I’ve missed an amazing thing you do, write it down in section h) “Other”. I know you or your child does some pretty amazing stuff. I can’t tell you how many smart and talented young individuals I meet in my profession. I am literally blown away by their achievements and accomplishments at such an early age. So, a shout out to all my young listeners and viewers!
Ok, on to question 3. This one is a big one, so if you’re multitasking, please come back to me.
- My Testing Goals
This is really important, and may require several sittings, meaning you may have to have a discussion with your family and come back to this table to enter the date you are taking a particular standardized test.
Let’s look at the easy-to-use table that I’ve created for you. For your convenience, I’ve created a drop-down option for the SAT or ACT, which is the first two rows of the table. The next four rows are for you to choose a SAT Subject test. Again, I offer you a drop-down where you may select 1 of the 20 SAT Subject tests offered. I just wanted to give a disclaimer here, you are by no means required to take four SAT Subject tests. Many colleges like John Hopkins, Vanderbilt or the University of Virginia have made Subject tests optional. So, I highly recommend you to go to the college website to find out whether or not the SAT Subject tests are required and which ones? That’s your safest best as requirements are constantly changing. A quick tidbit, If you are applying to a STEM field, you are usually asked to take Math Level II and a science Subject test. That being said, I always recommend my students to take two SAT Subject tests, if it isn’t a financial burden for you.
Ok, listen up, I have an admissions tip for you…. I strongly recommend all of my students to take the Math Level II Subject test as it is usually a requirement for most STEM and business majors. More importantly, the reason I recommend Math Level II is because this test has the biggest curve, meaning you can miss the most amount of questions and still get a perfect score of 800. For those of you, who aren’t a math person. I get you, don’t fret, there are plenty of humanities-related SAT Subject tests to study for.
So, go ahead schedule in your SAT Subject Tests if the colleges you are applying to recommend or require them. I have another admissions tip for you when the college writes “recommended” for a standardized test, that technically signifies required. So, save yourself from having your application denied because you didn’t take the test they suggested you to take. Schedule the test on this table, plan your study and take it!
Likewise, schedule in the dates of your AP or IB exams or other tests you may be taking for college admission. Here I give you the option of entering the specific test you are taking. For example, if you are taking AP Chemistry, type that in and enter the date the test is scheduled for.
To make it easier for you, I created a 2020 Standardized Testing Dates and Deadlines worksheet with all testing dates of the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject tests and AP exams in one document. You may find the link to the 2020 Standardized Testing Dates and Deadlines IvyBound Sheet in the show notes of this episode at https://ivyboundconsulting.com/001.
Cool right? Now, you don’t need to search up or google exam dates and their deadlines. Just download the 2020 Standardized Testing 2020 Dates and Deadlines IvyBound Sheet, and print it out. Keep it handy so you don’t miss a registration deadline.
Moving right along, you’ll find this table gives you an option of “Other” as a field where you may enter multiple SAT Subject tests, APs, or IB exams you may be taking. I also included the “Other” field for International students who may have to take TOEFL, IELTS, or DET as requirements for their college application process. Again, I would advise International students, to refer to the college website to get the most up-to-date testing requirements. Go ahead and enter all tests you will be taking for 2020, and their scheduled test dates.
If you notice, you can enter three possible dates to take the test in this table. You don’t need to take the tests three times. I just wanted to provide you the space in the chart, but more importantly, for you to think about scheduling test dates multiple times in the year. Just so you know, students on average take the tests three times to get their best results. Anything more, usually has a point of diminishing returns, meaning that not much improvement is made. When thinking about taking the SAT for the fourth time, it may be best to use your time more wisely, like focusing more on a class or extracurricular activity that needs your attention.
I feel the last column, something that is overlooked, is the most important by far, scheduling in your– study time. If you don’t schedule it in, where is the world are you going to find the hours to study? Don’t skip this one, you have to think through how much studying time you may need for a particular test.
I’m giving you another admissions tip here, on average, it takes 8-12 weeks in between tests before you can see some improvement, that is if you take one test a week, plus studying after that. There are students, who cram in 8-12 tests in a month and then take the test the following month. Yes, that’s my daughter for you. I guess, to each their own. You know how you study best and how much time you may need. Schedule it in. Ok, you may need to alter the scheduled dates, which is completely fine. But, scheduling it sets the wheels in motion and makes it real! Or at least it makes you realize you need to make some free time to study for a standardized test you may be taking.
Ok, this last question was a doozy. Let’s move on to question 4.
- Challenges I am facing are, and the Solutions I can think of are…
Many times a student is struggling, like in his English class, and doesn’t know how to get help or the support he might need. Writing the challenges down makes it easier to find solutions. Trust me. Write it all down… Then, think of solutions, like the writing center at your school, asking a teacher for help, or even a family member. As and when challenges arise, I encourage you to write them down and think of all possible solutions. Believe me, when you do this, the answer will show up. And, if it doesn’t have a conversation with your parents, a teacher, or a friend. You may be surprised that they provide you with a solution that you didn’t think of.
Question 5 is an extension of question 4.
The People I can go to for Academic and Emotional Support are:
Noting down all the possible people you may go for support is empowering, making you feel that you can successfully tackle all challenges that may come your way. So go ahead, and write down your supporters, you’d be amazed by how many people you come up with. Don’t forget to enter each section.
- Your Parents – This applies to high school students. Write down your parents, step-parents, or guardians who can be your support system.
Teachers – Start with your current teacher of the class you are taking. Then note all the teachers or teachers in a particular department that can help you when you are in a jam.
Friends – Write down all the friends you can go to for academic and emotional support. It’s nice to have dependable friends.
Family – Here, jot down other family members, like an aunt or a cousin who you can ask for help. You’ll never know when Uncle ______ (fill in the name) may come in handy.
Other – This is someone I may have forgotten to mention, maybe an employer. Doing this exercise, not only helps you create a list of people you can ask for support but on a higher-level makes you feel that you are not alone in this journey. There are many people who would love to help you, when asked.
Last but not least, you can always contact me, Ruchi S. Kothari. I’m there to guide and support you through your college admissions journey. Reach out to me. DM me at @ivyboundconsulting on Instagram, or PM me at @ivyboundconsulting on Facebook.
Are you ready to talk about some fun stuff? Yes? Question 6, a forgotten step, is my most favorite question because it talks about celebration…
Milestones or Achievements I will be celebrating are
I want you to write down a milestone or achievement you have, and/or will achieve this year. Doesn’t matter if it’s big, small or something in between. A milestone is a milestone, an achievement is an achievement. You gotta celebrate all wins– big or small, and everything in between. This is what keeps us going and wanting more. So, go ahead write down that you completed the 10-page science term paper, regardless of the grade you receive, it is an achievement. Also, note down your birthday, if you’re receiving your driver’s license, or if you will graduate high school this year. All things worth celebrating. Well, I don’t know how your parents might feel about you driving, but that’s a different conversation you and I can have. Cool? Let’s move on.
Question 7 is another often missed step, in the midst of tackling the challenges of high school.
- My Personal Goals are
Go ahead, write or type in some personal goals you might have. Maybe you want to read a certain number of books, go hiking, or compose music. Write down whatever you fancy, and take time out of your busy schedule to do at least one of these this year. Believe me, it’ll be so worth it to keep your mind, body and spirit sound. I know, I’m sounding spiritual here, but all three are needed for you to successfully navigate the college admissions journey and not burn out. Burn out is something I see all too often and I don’t want that for you. Or, for anyone.
Question 8 is similar to question 7, however, here, I want you to write all the things you can do now or is readily available when you need to relax and destress.
Things I like to do to Relax Myself when I get stressed
Write anything and everything you do to relax yourself, however simple or quirky it may be. Retort to your answers whenever you are feeling down, you’re anxious or stressed, or you just want some downtime to relax. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? For me, reading a book next to the fireplace, or taking walks when the weather is warm are my ways to unwind. I live in New Jersey, so I don’t get many warm days. I like to take advantage of them whenever I can.
Finally, we have reached the last question. Believe me, it is the most fun of them all. Sit down with your family and plan some vacation or downtime. It doesn’t need to be a big one, a few days to destress and enjoy things that you love with the people you love is more than enough to get you energized to trudge along with your high school to college journey.
Remember, we’re in it for the long haul, so pace yourself by answering question 9.
Plan out some Vacation or Down Time so that you can unwind, have fun and enjoy life.
Use this table to plan out a few days here or there for some vacation or downtime. I even suggest to some of my students if they are using spring break or the summer for college visits, add a day or two and make it a vacation. Don’t you think it’s clever? It definitely kills two birds with one stone.
Ok. So, there you have it. Wow!! We’ve created and planned out your 2020 goals. You are now good for the whole year, as you start your 2020 off right with planning ahead, ensuring that you are prepared to tackle any bumps on the road that may come your way. Remember, the key is to keep moving forward. Use your resources and reach out for help whenever needed. Go get ‘em tiger!
In hopes that you have a successful year ahead, I have a special gift for three listeners or viewers this week. The gift is a jumbo 2020 dry erase wall calendar, which includes 2 planners: 1) The entire 2020 year in review calendar, where you can write all important dates, and 2) A reversible monthly or weekly calendar. Isn’t this something exciting? I got one for my daughter, looking at an enormous calendar, as expected she cringed first. I decided to use it myself since she didn’t seem as thrilled as I was. A few days later, when I was looking for the calendar, I found it taped to my daughter’s room, with all her midterm, final and ACT test dates scheduled in. She also scheduled her future college visits, summer camps, and of course the trip she wants to take to Cambodia. I don’t know when that’s going to happen. It’s her dream– maybe as a graduation gift for her next year. Let’s see. I’m just thrilled that my daughter came around and multi-coded the calendar with important school dates, testing dates and vacation times
Anyways, three lucky subscribers will win this cool gift. In order for you to win, you must:
In order for you to win, you must:
- Subscribe to Be Collegebound with IvyBound series
- Screenshot yourself listening to this podcast or watching the YouTube video
- Share it on your stories along with your biggest takeaway
- Tag 3 friends
- And don’t forget to tag me with @ivyboundconsulting and #ivyboundconsultingpodcast or #ivyboundconsultingYouTubevideo.
Results will be announced in the next podcast. So, stay tuned!
Before we wrap up, let’s have a quick Office Hour session with Ruchi S. Kothari, where I end each episode by answering three real-time college admissions questions.
The first question is from Tejas from Fremont, CA.
1. He asks: Is it better to get a B in an AP class or an A in a Honors or regular class?
Hi Tejas. That’s a common question I get from many of my students. The answer to this question is not very straight forward. If your high school offers more weight to an AP class over an Honors or average class, I would suggest taking the AP class and settling for a B. However, Tejas, if you are applying to a highly selective college, maintaining your GPA is critical. I highly recommend using all your resources if you are struggling to improve your grade. There are numerous resources out there. Refer back to the list of supporters you created in question 5 in Your 2020 Goal Setting and Planning IvyBound Sheet, like your teacher, friends, and family. You also seek tutoring or get help from online programs like Wyzant, Varsity Tutors, Khan Academy, or Albert.io for AP help. There are plenty of resources out there, so go find them. With that being said, if a certain AP class like AP Physics II is not your cup of tea and will give you anxiety, then take the class that is more manageable and you can get an A in that class. Hope I answered your question Tejas.
Moving long to question 2. Claudia from Phoenix, AZ asks:
2. My son is a Junior and we have started creating a college list. What’s a healthy number of colleges to have on your list. Currently, we have 22.
Claudia, I’m glad that you and your son started early with creating your college list. A shoot out to you. Woohoo! You’re off to a good start. But, as you know, you and your son will have to go back and prune this list. Keep your options open, assess what types of colleges you are looking at– small, mid-sized, or large colleges. Spend spring break and the summer to do college visits. Research the ones you cannot travel to online by checking out the college’s website and taking a virtual tour. A healthy and manageable list should be 10-12 colleges. Remember, come Fall, your son, will need to write numerous supplemental essays of the colleges he decides to apply to. Let’s say each college has 2 supplemental essays, which is a low number because many of the Ivies have 4-8 small essays. Stanford has 11of them. Yes, 11 supplemental essays of various lengths. Let’s go back to 2 supplemental essays times 12 colleges are 24 essays plus 1 main essay also referred to as the personal statement. Now that you think about it, even 12 colleges are a lot. So, Claudia, you’re off to a good start. Come Fall, I’d like you and your son to narrow your college list down to 10-12 colleges. Reach out to me if you need more help, pruning the list.
Our final question for the day is by Jeff from Brooklyn, NY. Jeff says that
3. His mailbox has been inundated by mail from colleges like the University of Chicago, NYU, and even the Ivies. Is this an indicator of my daughter’s chances of getting admitted to these colleges?
That’s a great question, Jeff. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Colleges buy student names and their contact information from organizations like the CollegeBoard or the ACT. Then, these colleges send us mailers as a way to promote their college, nothing more. Remember, it is a business for the college to have as many students apply to their college. It increases their ratings and lowers the admissions rate. A college is also a business entity which needs millions, even billions of dollars to keep it running sufficiently each year. I’m sorry, Jeff, It’s a numbers game.
Ok folks, that’s all the time we have for today. I’m thrilled that you are tuned in to listen to the Be Collegebound with IvyBound podcast or watch the YouTube video series. I have a lot of exciting episodes planned for the year. It’s everything and anything under the sun about college admissions, so please subscribe, rate, and leave me a review. If you have a burning college admissions question that you want me to answer in the Live Office hours with Ruchi S. Kothari, then write the question in the comments below.
Don’t forget to join me next week where I discuss Early Admit Rates for Class of 2024 and what’s trending in college admissions this year.
I hope you enjoyed this episode and thanks so much for tuning in. I’m leaving you with something to think about: Make it Your Own!
Your college admissions journey is unique to your experiences and circumstances. Use your intelligence and your talent, and yes you have many of them, to make the best of your journey, so Make it your Own! Bye for now!