While New Year's Eve often brings a party, the new year itself often brings great hopes for change and growth. If you're a college student, the new year presents the perfect time to set some resolutions that can help make your academic year more positive, productive, and enjoyable. But what exactly are good New Year's resolutions for college students?
Good New Year's resolutions, of course, are not just those that address the things in your life you'd like to change or improve upon; they also are realistic enough that you're more likely than not to stick with them.
1. Get (a specific number) of hours of sleep a night. Being specific about your goals for the new year -- for example, "get at least 6 hours of sleep a night" instead of "getting more sleep" -- helps make your resolutions more tangible. And while college life is hard and often sleep deprived, making sure you get enough sleep each night is critical for your long-term success (and health!) in school.
2. Get (a specific amount) of exercise each week. While finding time to exercise in college -- even for 30 minutes -- can seem impossible for many students, it's important to try to incorporate physical activity into your college life routine. After all, those little 30 minutes at the gym can give you more energy throughout the day (and week). Make sure your goal is specific, however; instead of "go to the gym," make a resolution to "work out for 30 minutes at least 4 times a week," "join an intramural sports team," or "work out 4 times a week with a work-out partner."
3. Eat healthier at each meal. College life is notorious for its unhealthy food options: greasy dining hall food, bad delivery, ramen noodles, and pizza everywhere. Make a goal to add at least something healthy at each meal, like at least one serving of fruits or vegetables. Or cut out (or at least down) on your soda intake. Or switch to diet soda. Or cut down on your caffeine intake, for example, so that you'll sleep better at night. No matter what you add or switch, doing little changes every time you eat can lead to big differences.
4. Cut down on your cocurricular involvement. Many students are involved in all kinds of clubs, activities, and teams that meet regularly on campus. And while this cocurricular involvement can be good, it also can be detrimental to your academics. If you need more time, are struggling in your classes, or just overall feel overwhelmed, consider cutting down on your cocurricular involvement. You might be surprised at how much better you feel with an extra hour or two a week.
5. Try something new/step out of your comfort zone at least once a month. Chances are, there are things happening on your campus 24/7. And many of them are on topics or involve activities that you're not at all familiar with. Challenge yourself a little to try something totally new at least once a month. Attend a lecture on a topic you know nothing or very little about; go to a cultural event you've never heard of before; volunteer to help with a cause you know you should learn more about but just never looked into. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself!
6. Don't use a credit card for things you want -- only use it for things you need. The last thing you want in college is to be saddled with credit card debt and the accompanying monthly payment you're required to make. Be very strict about your credit card use and only use it when it's absolutely necessary for things you need. (For example, you need books for your classes. But you don't necessarily need -- although you might want -- those expensive new sneakers when the ones you have can last another few months.)
7. Finish your papers at least one day in advance. This may sound completely unrealistic and idealistic, but if you look back at your time in school, when have you been the most stressed? Some of the highest-stress parts of the semester come when major papers and projects are due. And planning to do something the night before is, quite literally, planning to procrastinate. So why not plan instead to finish a little early so you can get some sleep, not be as stressed, and -- most likely -- turn in a better assignment?
8. Volunteer at least once a week. It's super easy to get caught up in the little bubble that is your school. Stress over papers, the lack of sleep, and frustration with everything from friends to finances can quickly consume both your mind and spirit. Volunteering, on the other hand, offers you a chance to give back while also helping you keep things in perspective. Added bonus: You'll feel awesome afterward!
9. Take a leadership position on campus. Things may become a little too routine for you during your time in school (especially during the Sophomore Slump). You go to class, go to a few meetings, maybe work your on-campus job, and then ... do it all over again. Aiming for a leadership position, like being an RA or on the executive board of a club, can help challenge your brain in new and exciting ways.
10. Spend time with people outside of your college friends. Granted, this may need to be done electronically, but it's important. Spend time Skyping with your best friend from high school; let yourself chat online with people who aren't at your school; call your siblings every once in a while to check in and hear about things back home. While your college life may be all consuming now, it will be over before you know it ... and the relationships you've kept with the non-college people in your life will be important once you're officially a college graduate.