The Importance of Self-Reflection: How to End the Year on a Positive Note

Once Thanksgiving passes, many of us shift into autopilot mode to ride out the rest of the semester—whether this means cramming for tests or pulling all-nighters for essays. While you more than deserve the holiday break, a great way to end the year positively is to take some time to reflect on your performance. Academic self-reflection, in particular, allows you to consider your unique strengths and weaknesses as a learner, strategies that helped or hindered you, and ways to move forward as you go into the New Year. It’s also a great practice that will help you become a more effective and efficient student.

Keep reading to learn how to end the year on a positive note.

Reflect on your achievements

Early in your self-reflection, consider what you have achieved over the past year. Identify both small- and large-scale achievements. Think, too, about what your teacher or peers did that assisted you. Were there specific activities or assignments that nudged you toward success? What resources did you take advantage of, such as:

  • Office hours

  • Study groups

  • The writing center?

What did you do specifically to improve your chances of success? Make a list or free-write about what worked well for you. Conversely, what problems did you run into while aiming for success, and what could you do to improve in these areas? Again, the more concrete you are, the better.

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Reflect on your daily schedule and study habits

Mapping out your daily schedule and study habits is another useful aspect of self-reflection. Of course, every week is different, but take the time to chart out how you generally spent each day during the week, including any extracurricular activities. Then, consider how you spent your study and homework sessions: when, where, and how did you study? What kind of strategies did you use? For example, list out whether you took breaks, used class notes, made flashcards, or reread your textbook. How far in advance did you generally begin to study for an exam or prepare for a major project or paper? Think about your organizational methods, as well. Looking back, reflect on effective and ineffective aspects of your schedule and habits, and what you want to carry with you into the New Year.

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Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses

By this point in your self-reflection, some of your strengths and weaknesses may have already made themselves known. Probe deeper, and consider your skills in keeping yourself organized and on task, as well as your skills in particular subjects and concepts. It’s easy to get down on yourself in regard to your weaknesses, but remember that every student, and every person, has weak spots. You don’t need to become a completely different person in order to meet your academic goals. Rather, knowing more about yourself can help you identify resources and strategies that will help you succeed.

After self-reflecting, it’s time to make some goals for the New Year! Make sure that your goals are concrete, achievable, and quantifiable. Then, consider both strategies and habits that you can use moving forward, as well as support and help from outside sources, including classmates and instructors. After all this, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for the growth you’ve shown and the self-awareness you’ve gained through this process.

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