By Ashley Austrew
As you get ready to turn the page in your planners and welcome a new year, you’re probably thinking about some of the ways you’d like to better yourself and the things you’d like to accomplish in 2024. New Year’s resolutions are popular because the new year represents a time of renewal. It’s an opportunity to shed the old habits and beliefs that are weighing us down and focus on adopting fresh, positive goals that will help us be more successful.
For students like you, the new year also marks a halfway point in the standard academic year. Whether you’ve had a fantastic school year so far or see some room for improvement, there is still plenty of time to set new goals, break bad habits, and become an even more dedicated and engaged student and friend. While you’re thinking about all the ways to become your best self in 2024, here are 10 ideas to extend those New Year’s resolutions to include your academic self as well.
1. Create a study routine.
What if every test and assignment didn’t have to involve cramming and panicking? If you don’t already have a study routine, this is the year to make one. A study routine can be as simple as reviewing your class materials for a few minutes every day, rather than leaving it all for the days leading up to a test. Or it might look like meeting with a partner or group every week. Think about the ways you can divide your school work into more manageable daily tasks, and then set goals to help you stick to the plan.
2. Learn something brand new.
What subjects or issues do you find most interesting? Set a goal to pursue one of those this year, even if it’s just in your free time. Passion and curiosity are great motivators for learning, and carving out time to explore something that really makes you tick is a great way to reignite your overall love of learning. Who knows? You might get a new hobby out of it, or maybe even find a future career goal or subject for a project.
3. Ask for help.
Sometimes asking for help is one of the hardest things to do. This help could come in the form of hiring a tutor to practice a subject you’re really struggling with, or it might be reaching out to a mentor, advisor, or counselor for help with academic planning, future goals, or your mental health. Taking care of yourself and getting the support you need is vital to your continued success as a student. This year, commit to using whatever resources are available to help when you find yourself in challenging situations.
4. Get more sleep.
We’re sorry to say this, but you are not a robot. You actually need things like sleep to survive. In fact, not getting enough sleep can actually alter activity in your brain, causing problems with important skills, like making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. We aren’t saying you need to aim for 12 hours of sleep per night or anything, but setting some goals related to healthy sleep may help you function better in class and perform better academically.
5. Focus on learning, not just grades.
Grades are important, but don’t forget that education is about your lifelong love of and relationship with learning. If you’re only focused on the next big test or acing that tough class, you might miss out on some of the parts of learning that you find most engaging. Every subject won’t be your favorite, but commit to really immersing yourself in your studies this year and noticing what makes you tick, excites you, and makes you want to learn more. Maybe keep a journal of your favorite tidbits from your classes and reading. Commit to learning as a process, not just as a way to get a good grade, and you might find more joy in your schoolwork.
6. Maintain school-life balance.
Yes, your schoolwork is important, but so is taking time for rest. Set intentions around things like your hobbies, time with friends, time off from school, and self care. Resting and maintaining an active lifestyle outside of school is important to your mental health. It’s also a way to recharge and come back to that big paper, project, or study session with renewed focus and energy. There’s nothing lazy about taking a break, so plan to do it often this year.
7. Overcome procrastination.
We know procrastination is difficult to overcome, but don’t put this one off! If you struggle with finding the motivation to get things done, you certainly aren’t alone. There are a lot of reasons why people procrastinate, including anxiety, decision fatigue, depression, and even neurocognitive differences. Procrastination is normal, but that doesn’t mean you have to struggle with it forever. This year, take some decisive actions to combat the urge to procrastinate, like:
- Dividing large assignments into smaller, easier tasks.
- Using timers to motivate yourself to work for short windows of time.
- Working with a study group or partner for accountability.
- Using checklists.
If things aren’t improving or you want to do more work on exploring the reasons why you procrastinate, consider talking with a trusted teacher or counselor for more resources.
8. Get organized.
You don’t have to suddenly transform into Marie Kondo, but do commit to being more organized this year. It can make it easier to study, get to class on time, and get assignments completed on time. Organization looks different for everyone, depending on your schedule, your motivations, and your personal style. For you, getting organized may mean splurging on a fancy planner, downloading a new scheduling app, or even just organizing all of your books and supplies. Figure out what would help you be more productive and feel more in control, and then take steps to make it your new normal.
9. Get involved.
There are a million different ways to get involved in your school community, so make it a goal this year that you won’t keep sitting on the sidelines. Join a new club, volunteer, try out for a team, or get involved in a play or activity. Even joining a study group or book club can provide a way to socialize, as well as new opportunities for learning and growth. School may keep you busy, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Being a part of your school community can help you feel more engaged and supported, and make you aware of new resources and opportunities you may not have known about otherwise. Put yourself out there, and see where it leads.
10. Prioritize your mental health.
It may be tempting to pile as many classes, clubs, and extracurricular activities onto your schedule as possible, but don’t forget to think about your stress levels and emotional needs, too. Being constantly overloaded or on deadline can be hard on your mental health, and it’s difficult to keep showing up academically when you’re feeling burned out. As you go into the new year, commit to checking in with yourself, saying “no” to things when you need to, and making your mental and emotional wellbeing just as important as your physical health. Remember: before you can show up for others, you have to show up for yourself.
Ashley Austrew is a freelance journalist and writer from Omaha, Nebraska. Her work has been published at Cosmopolitan, Scary Mommy, Scholastic, and other outlets. For more by Ashley, read: 10 New Dating Slang Words To Know In 2021| Prepare To Finish The School Year Strong With These Tips | How To Get A Head Start On Your Final Paper | How To Create Atmosphere & Mood In Your Writing To Engage Your Readers