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10 Academic New Year’s Resolutions You Should Make This Year

All students want to do well in their classes, but not everyone knows how to break bad habits or ensure that they’re starting out and staying on the path to success. There’s no better time than the new year to start working towards positive changes by making and sticking resolutions that can make you the top-notch student you’ve always known you could be.

Here are some real, concrete resolutions that you can make this year that will improve your success as a student and help you stay on track through January and beyond.

Create a study schedule.

Cramming at the last minute is one of the least effective and most stressful ways to prepare for an exam or learn new material. Committing to a schedule will help you get more out of your studying (your retention will skyrocket) and you won’t have to stay up until all hours of the night to get it done.

Ask more questions.

Afraid to ask questions, even though you don’t really understand what’s going on in class? You’re certainly not alone, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by staying silent. Make this year the year you finally speak up and ask for help whenever you’re feeling lost.

Get more sleep.

There are few things that will improve your academic performance with as little effort as finally getting enough rest. Sleep reduces stress, helps you be more alert, and can actually help you to better learn and retain the material you’re covering in your courses. Really. Resolve to give yourself a regular bedtime during the week to ensure you’re getting the rest you need.

Use a planner.

If you’re like most online students, your life is busy. Using a planner is one smart way to help you keep up with all the things you have going on. You can easily prioritize the most important tasks, keep an eye on what’s coming up, and appreciate what you’ve accomplished. Start the semester off on the right foot by buying a planner and copying all of the important dates from your course syllabi into it.

Get excited about learning.

If you look at completing your coursework as a chore, you’re likely only going to do the bare minimum. Learning should be fun, even if it’s sometimes challenging. This year, try to take a different approach to your courses, seeing them as an opportunity instead of an obligation to complete on your way to a degree or certification. A positive attitude, rewards for success, relating learning to your interests, and making learning social are all ways you can help yourself get excited for the upcoming semester, but you can and should use whatever works for you.

Quash self-doubt.

Often, those nagging voices creep in as the semester goes on, challenging your ability to do this, to get the A on the test, to really be successful as a student. But just because things are hard doesn’t mean that you can’t do them. This year, tell those doubts to beat it—you can achieve what you want to achieve.

Improve at one skill.

You don’t have to conquer all your educational goals at once. Instead, choose one skill you want to improve at this semester and focus your energy on getting better at it. Some students might want to become better writers, others may want to practice public speaking. Set a goal for improvement that’s attainable and start pushing yourself whenever you can. You can even involve your professors and classmates by asking for feedback when it’s appropriate.

Build new relationships.

College is about more than just finishing coursework. It’s also about building relationships, whether those are friendships or professional associations. So talk to your professor, go to office hours, make new connections with students, actively engage with others on the discussion board, and just really put yourself out there. Why? You’ll feel more invested and supported in your courses and you just may build some relationships that will help you in your career well after you finish your degree.

Read more.

How much reading do you do outside of what you do for class? If you’re already a bookworm, this resolution will be a cinch for you, but if you don’t read for pleasure, consider picking up a book just for fun. Choose something that you’re interested in, something that expands on lessons from your courses, or even a classic. Whatever you choose, challenge yourself to learn and expand your worldview even when you’re not in class.

Finally stop procrastinating.

Procrastination might feel good in the moment, but it can have long term negative effects that can really hurt your academic success. After all, many tasks end up taking far longer than we initially plan for, especially if major revisions need to happen along the way. Instead of putting things off until the last minute, resolve to start on assignments and projects early, taking them in small chunks. Yes, it’s less fun than going out with friends or watching TV, but it will help you to get better grades and actually learn more from your courses.