5 New Year's Resolutions for School

Happy New Year! You may be already kicking off your lifestyle-related resolutions by hitting the gym, cutting back on Facebook, or improving/eliminating any other frequent habits you want to change. It’s good to get a solid start on these before you are back in school and overwhelmed with a brand new set of academic responsibilities.

You should also spend this time, however, reflecting on one question: can you do better in school this year than you did last year? Although you are still in the midst of the same academic year you left off on in December, the new calendar year is reason enough to spark a change. Look at your previous academic performance and honestly ask yourself what you can do to improve it. This coming semester in the new year is a wide open opportunity for better attitudes and fresh methods to be applied to your studies. How can you make this semester better?

Not only should you figure out how to make this semester better, you should figure out how to maintain those changes in the following school semesters. What do you have to do now to make it a real challenge for you next New Year’s to land on a list of resolutions? If you do it right this time, you’ll find very few study habits that need to be modified in the future. The number one resolution you should make is to permanently keep the ones you make now.

Take into account some of these encouraged resolutions for an improved school year:

#1: Use a calendar/planner – If you’re not already using one, use one. If you do use one, you could probably use it better. Many students own a planner but leave it under a mess of books in their backpack far too often with the occasional scribble in it. A planner is useless when no regular attention is given to it. Once you get into the habit of writing every single homework assignment, exam day, and project due date into this book, you’ll be amazed at how much less you procrastinate and how much more ‘on the ball’ you can be in approaching these responsibilities. Take it seriously to the point where you’re checking it constantly. With such a dependable source for your schedule and tasks, you’ll rarely miss a deadline again and wonder how you ever lived without it. Here are some great tips on keeping and using a calendar.

#2: Do not miss class for no good reason – Especially for college students, skipping class once in awhile can be very tempting and seemingly easy to do, but it’s just not a good idea. Unless you are legitimately sick or have an actual emergency of some sort, follow the rule of thumb and just go to class. Even if you’re under the impression that nothing important will be covered and you can afford to miss it, always err on the side of caution and go. Teachers could always change their lesson plans at the last minute or have a strict attendance policy that could cost you a letter grade. But even more importantly, you should attend class so you can guarantee you get a good handle on the material. Each class is designed for you to get something out of it, and that face-to-face interaction with the teacher is extremely valuable and more helpful than simply attempting to figure out concepts on your own. You may also want to check out these tips on how to participate in a class discussion.

#3: Actually do your homework assignments – Stop being sluggish and really get those assignments done. When you put some real effort into them, you’ll understand why the teacher assigned them to you in the first place. Even if it just seems like busy work, put the appropriate amount of thought into the task because it’s still one step closer to comprehending class material. You’ll feel much more accomplished and proud once you actually complete those assignments fully and thoroughly. The point is to work on them as your teacher intended rather than doing just enough to get by. Needless to say, you’ll see far better results if you do what the teacher asked – this is ultimately a big favor to you.

#4: Do not solely rely on Spark Notes – Going off the point of legitimately completing homework assignments, do yourself an even bigger favor and stop depending on Spark Notes or any other type of cliff notes. These can be good resources for further analysis after reading a book, but they should never be an entire substitute. Although you’ve probably heard this lecture a hundred times and decided to look past it, a great resolution to make would be to take it seriously. There is no way you can actually grasp the concept and underlying themes of a story without carefully reading it on your own. We all have busy schedules and reading lengthy novels is certainly time-consuming, but putting in the required effort will truly pay off when it’s time to write a paper or take a quiz. Reading the entire thing and avoiding shortcuts is a great promise to make to yourself.

#5: Take a real interest in class material – All of these resolutions will be a lot easier to carry through if you actually invest in what you are learning. Treat your classes this year as more than just grades to attain and credits to complete. Each of them has something valuable to offer and you should take advantage of that. Begin each course of the semester with an open mind and genuine interest in what the teacher is laying out for you in the syllabus. New skills and impressive knowledge will come to you quicker when you’re really motivated and not trying so hard to convince yourself to listen. Recognize how lucky you are to have this opportunity to sit in so many different classes with so many different teachers. Worst case, you don’t enjoy the subject matter but at least have authentically learned something new. You may also want to check out these 6 test prep mantras to love by in the new year.

Now, just think – do you want better results in school this year? This is the way to get them. Lay down the law for yourself by creating your own rules in the form of these resolutions. These promises are for you and you only. Don’t let yourself down and don’t cheat yourself out of an improved academic performance. The new year can bring a lot of positive changes; make sure school habits are included!