Why am I waiting till mid-January to write about resolutions? Well, by now, most people will have broken their resolutions. What I’m addressing is the difference between day-dreams and actuality. A day-dream is like me saying I’ll be a six foot tall supermodel. But given I’m a few inches over five foot, that’s not going to happen – the six foot bit. Speculating otherwise is a day-dream, not a resolution.

I do value dreams. They can translate to vision and ambition. But day-dreams are pie in the sky. Instead, a dream with a plan of how to achieve that is a real resolution.

How does this relate to college applications and the search process? Your vision is your imagined future. Your plan is how you’re going to achieve that.

But in this world of broken dreams, it is wise to have alternatives, to acknowledge that things can change. For students in their last year at school who were rejected by colleges, it means looking at where else to apply (hopefully something that’s not done at the last minute). It may mean a chance to reassess priorities.

How does one start?

In making a resolution, it’s best to start small. Set an achievable goal. I will research this one university. Is anywhere better than nowhere? Particularly as I write this on January 15th with deadlines for UK UCAS, some NL applications and US ones. Tick tock.

The pressure of a deadline can both inspire and inhibit. Sometimes ‘that will do’ is exactly the right thing. Sometimes it is exactly the wrong thing.

In making a resolution, I’m often reminded of my MBA studies and SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timed. Let’ think of that in dreams and vision – the big stuff may be overwhelming and too far off to envision.

Now my ‘big’ goal – dream is to write a book with Tiffany Jolowicz on Oxford and Cambridge admissions but with our vision that this encapsulates school, parent, and student. Not a how to make an application, but developing a clear sense of self.

The thing with resolutions is that you’re more likely to keep them if they’re public. But you need the SMART steps to get you there. While we’ve both been reading lots over the last year, we’ve realised that what we thought we’d be writing is something else. That’s the point of research, you have to be be able to reassess.

Our latest thoughts lead us to what we’re calling the ‘I in Identity’ – the individual that is unique and curious. To that end, my immediate task is some more reading (and note taking).

And if you’re interested in exactly what I’m reading right now, it is Mary Midgley’s ‘Wisdom, Information, and Wonder – What is Knowledge for?’ Back to my books – what are you doing?