New Year’s is a time to think about the improvements you can make in your life. If you are searching for resolve this year, read more about these 9 New Year’s resolutions for every college student!
Very often, people treat the new year as an opportunity for a fresh slate, to correct past mistakes during the upcoming year. We make yearly resolutions hoping for a change in behavior, usually with the goal of improving relationships, health, general well-being, and so on. Personally, I have tried to follow many of my own New Year’s resolutions and found January 1st is not the only day of the year we should be initiating resolve.
Instead, try to follow these general guidelines and let New Year’s serve as a kind reminder that it is never too late to improve yourself. If you are a college student, the new year can present a time of hope and growth, propelling you towards a more positive academic year and a more enjoyable college experience. Try them out yourself!
1. Learn something new
Podcasts are great source of useful information and a great distraction from your scheduled classes, not to mention a very productive use of your time. Learning outside of course materials is crucial to help broaden your knowledge base and impress future employers. Check out this list of podcasts related to business and innovation. If you are studying computer science, you might be interested in some of these topics from PlayerFM. If you want to expand your expertise in your area of study, professors can be a great recommendation source for podcasts more related to your studies.
Start following influencers on social media in your areas of specialization. Many podcasts cover broad topics of physical well-being and mental health. Thrive Global, for example, founded by Arianna Huffington, highlights different corporate, media, and digital projects and various resources for stress management. The conversations typically lead to personal accounts of successful stress management and the tools used to avoid burnout and increase happiness.
Alternatively, documentaries can be a great way to unwind from the stress of your workload. You can find a huge variety to choose from on Netflix, whether you are interested in history, art, sociology, fashion, or politics. You can also try picking up an autobiography written by one of your favorite public figures.
2. Apply for financial aid or scholarships
One of the main sources of stress for college students, and their families alike, is the ongoing management of student debt. Luckily, the US Department of Education has made the process of financial aid accessible to students across the country. If you are feeling stressed about your financial situation as a student and the burden it presents for the future, send a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or research local sponsorships in your city.
Plenty of nonprofits, private companies, schools, individuals, and professional and social organizations will offer scholarships to college students. They are usually merit based, granted based on academic performance or special talents. So, where can you find these scholarships? Google is certainly a great start — search for local community organizations, businesses, and civic groups that offer scholarships and always check with your school’s financial office or library.
3. Participate more during class
Although it may be tempting to rely solely on class reading materials, professors often rely on scheduled classes to share useful information about upcoming exams or assignments. Many times, professors will include information on the exam which was discussed during the class but not explicitly mentioned in the assigned reading. For this reason, it is important that you attend your classes regularly, not to mention the financial loss many students see from skipping their classes!
Especially if you are enrolled in an online program, remember that it is never too early to start reading and taking notes to prepare you for the next class. Spending some extra time researching questions from the reading will improve your engagement during class, making it much easier to participate in the discussion and get the most out of your tuition!
4. Get more involved outside of lectures
College is often the first time students leave their families. Campus activities can help create a community away from home. Greek life, local grassroots organizations, and professional societies can change your entire college experience! And, if you are still not convinced, all these activities will look amazing on your resume after you graduate.
Find local organizations who need volunteers or interns to develop your professional skills. For more technical degrees (engineering, computer science), try out a side project like creating an app or helping students with their own projects.
5. Start a part-time job
Another way to improve your resume is with a part-time job during your studies. Though it can be tough to balance, students who work at least a few hours a week show strong initiative and work ethic, and the ability to learn new skills, maybe even increasing their earning potential for the future. Not to mention the extra spending money you can have in your pocket!
Students often find work both on and off campus and in many forms. You can start by contacting the financial aid office on campus and asking about work-study opportunities. If you prefer to work off campus and get a break from the academic environment, take a walk through town and fill out applications for student positions.
If you are studying online, pay extra attention to your time management. Once you find your part-time job, you might want to finish your school work in the mornings when you feel the most energy and focus, getting it out of the way early on. Many large businesses like Bank of America, Walmart, and AT&T are willing to help students with their education costs. There also plenty of freelance opportunities out there that will give you the freedom to manage your own schedule throughout the week.
6. Set daily personal goals
Many New Year’s resolutions involve daily goals of exercise and meditation in an effort to improve overall well-being and mental health. While these are always beneficial areas of focus, try setting more specific goals relating to the people and habits in your own life. For example, if you are working on a project with a very difficult classmate, make a personal resolution to change your own behavior. Once you realize the source of stress in the situation — maybe this person is too controlling, too lazy, or too loud — then you can begin to resolve your own behavior.
7. Practice gratitude
This New Year’s, think about how you can make your life more meaningful and how you can connect with your community by volunteering or making a resolution to be kinder and more patient with others. Show compassion when a friend offers help. Give compliments where you feel they are deserved.
You can help your community by donating food, mentoring at-risk youth, volunteering at an annual event, or participating in a clothing drive. You might be surprised by the satisfaction you can feel from any of these acts of service. For more ideas, see these 10 New Year’s resolutions to help you give back to your community.
8. Create a plan for your future
Graduation can be a scary time in a student’s life, but it can be much less intimidating with a little strategic planning. What do you want to achieve both professionally and personally? Map out a plan to get there, breaking it up into short, medium and long term benchmarks.
No matter where you are in your academic experience, plan goals you can realistically achieve in the next week, month, and overall goals you can reach before you graduate. Use your social life to set deadlines for yourself, like completing an assignment during the week before the party you have planned over the weekend. You can also make a list of companies you are interested in and make sure you contact them all before the end of the month.
Financial planning is crucial as well. Use apps like Quicken and Mint to create a budget for yourself. Once you see where your money actually goes, set a realistic budget for yourself each month and try to cut back where possible. It is never too early in life to start avoiding debt and monitoring your credit score. After you graduate, you might want to rent an apartment right away or request a loan. Your credit score will play a huge part here, so keep a close eye if you use a credit card while in school.
9. Set a near impossible target and go for it!
Are you beginning a degree in engineering or computer science? Set yourself a goal to communicate with the established professionals who inspire you. What if you send an email to Bill Gates asking for career advice and he actually replies? It might sound impossible, but you will be surprised by the help some people are willing to offer students and aspiring professionals. All it takes is a little risk-taking and the impact could be life-changing.
The difference between realistic and unrealistic goals is the expectation of achieving them. Realistic goals might include saving a certain amount of money by the end of the month or improving your relationship with a peer. Unrealistic goals, on the other hand, might be less in your control, like establishing a relationship with one of the world’s most famous computer scientists. The reward, however, will be much more gratifying. Keep in mind that these ‘unrealistic’ goals are not completely out of reach, and should not cost you your integrity. They should inspire you to think creatively, to take risks, and most importantly they present the possibility for real, impactful change in your life.