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Dec 26 2017
by Caroline Mulvaney

6 Realistic New Year's Resolutions to Make You a Better Student

By Caroline Mulvaney - Dec 26 2017
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Lots of people make resolutions for the New Year, and it seems like even more people break those resolutions. That’s no way to start off 2018, with a sense of failure – especially when we’ve all had that feeling for the entirety of finals week. So, here are six realistic resolutions that will be a little easier to achieve, and will boost your GPA in the process.

1. Find a new study method to try out.

Everyone studies differently. I have friends who spend hours typing up their notes to make one big review book, while I swear by my colored pens and helpful doodles. Look around the Internet or your friend group for some ideas as to what might work for you. Some places to start could be the Cornell method or something like mind maps. Most importantly, if a method doesn’t seem to click for you, don’t be afraid to try a new one.

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2. Start a study group.

New classes for spring semester means new classmates, and there’s no better way to make friends and have a support system in a class than to have a study group. They could just be some people to do your homework with, or you could explain concepts to each other and provide backup for tricky theories. It's also very reassuring when you're with people who are having trouble with the same things you are. If nothing else, a study group is a great place to rant about your evil TA and complain about how much work the professor assigns. 

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3. Find a new study spot.

Studies have shown that changing your location while studying improves your memory and makes the information “stick” more. So find somewhere on or off campus that can be your secondary location for when the library is full or you’re really just not feeling the vibes in your dorm room. Some ideas could be a coffee shop in town, a blanket on the front lawn or at a nearby park or some hidden room that only the grad students know about.

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4. Be more organized.

Granted, for many people, this could be a big resolution that would be too easy to break. The key is to break it down into smaller steps. Start with having designated folders for each of your classes, or even just making sure you have all your textbooks kept in one place. Lists are also a great place to begin your journey towards neatness. Make lists of your homework tasks, lists of what you need to study for the next test and even lists of what you need to do to be more organized. Organization is extremely important to academic success, and it’s also a useful life skill in general.

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5. Take a class just for the fun of it.

Oftentimes, we as college students (and especially freshmen) can get caught up in the pressure of core requirements, pre-requisites, declaring a major, etc. Having a class that’s just for you is a great escape from this stress. Choose something you’re truly interested in, even if it doesn’t seem applicable to “real life” or your major. You could pursue a new hobby, like painting or photography, or learn more about a topic you’re interested in, like marine biology or Irish history. Believe it or not, when you’re genuinely interested in a class, the homework doesn’t seem like such a chore.

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6. Join a new club.

Although this may not seem related to academic success, it definitely is. Clubs don’t have to just be resume builders or huge time commitments. They can just be outlets for stress relief and a break from a hectic day. If you’re sporty, take up an intramural sport (they don’t have the pressures of competitions and tournaments) or join a club that follows one of your hobbies, like writing or juggling. That’s at least an hour or two in your week carved out specifically for stress relief. And when you’re not stressed and constantly freaking out over your grades, life gets a lot better, and your GPA improves with it.

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It’s not a good idea to resolve to study five hours every night or start studying for every test three weeks in advance. You’ll break them, or burn out, or both. Instead, embrace the baby steps. Fulfilling a smaller resolution feels a lot better than breaking a big one. And what feels better than anything is seeing an improvement in your grades and mental state at the end of the semester. 

Lead Image Credit: Unsplash

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Caroline Mulvaney - Georgetown University

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