GThe new year offers a chance to start fresh. In addition to resolutions you might have about health, fitness, or your personal life, it’s also a good time to consider the ways you can improve academically. Whether you’re a straight-A student or need some extra support in a particular subject, every student can benefit from a little reflection. Take stock of your current academic standings and create goals that are achievable. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Manage Your Time
Students are some of the busiest people on the planet. In addition to the eight hours spent in the classroom each day, students often attend lengthy club meetings and sports practice before heading home to a pile of homework. Such a rigorous schedule can burn anyone out. In 2019, make it your goal to relax a little more by managing your time better.
Start by listing out the non-negotiables: things like sleeping, attending school and spending time with loved ones. Add those things to your calendar in ink. Next, begin to pencil in the things that you deem most important: studying, attending rehearsal, or practicing your jump shot. Finally, list out the things you’d do if you had all the free time in the world. Merging these three categories might seem overwhelming, but with the right attitude, you’ll find time for everything.
Perhaps you’ve spent the majority of your high school career with your nose in a book. While great grades are indeed admirable, they’re often not enough to secure a place at the college of your dreams. Instead of dedicating hour after hour on your studies, find ways to get involved in both your school and the larger community.
Join a book club, take up the violin, go for a swim or participate in student government. All these activities can help keep you happy, healthy and more connected to your peers. Go a step further and get a group to volunteer together. Simple acts like picking up trash in a local park or shelving books at the local library can remind you of how you fit into the big picture.
Find a Mentor
Who do you admire most in life? While it’d be nice to have Michelle Obama or LeBron James for a mentor, just about any positive influence in your life can become a valuable mentor. Consider the adults you respect most in your daily life. A mentor should be someone you feel comfortable with, someone you trust and someone who can offer you unique insight into your path forward.
Don’t immediately know of someone you’d like to ask to be your mentor? There are many opportunities available through non-profit organizations like Reality Changers. You’d be surprised at how many professionals are eager to pay it forward to the next generation! Simply asking for help finding a mentor is the first step.
Set a Goal for Each Course
Some classes are easy. Others are more challenging. No matter the course, it’s important to set goals for yourself. If you’re great at writing, challenge yourself to improve your already-high test scores. If science is a struggle, make it a goal to stay after for tutoring at least once a week.
Your goals don’t necessarily need to be based on grades. Consider other ways to measure progress. Maybe it’s time spent on the curriculum or the number of hours spent studying each week. Whatever your goal, write it out and check in on yourself throughout the semester to see how you’re doing.
Create a Study Schedule – and Stick to It
We’ve all been there: with a big test on the horizon, anxiety starts creeping in. You swear you’ll study hard, just not right now. A week goes by and you realize you’ve done nothing to prepare for the exam. An evening of flashcards and textbooks and whiteboard markers and coffee slips by. Awakening just a few hours before the test, you realize: you’ve procrastinated. You vow to never put off studying again.
Believe it or not, there’s a way out of this vicious cycle. By creating a weekly study schedule, you’ll build a healthy routine that will last you for years to come. This will serve you especially well in college, and help lower your anxiety. When your workload increases and your deadlines become more demanding, you’ll thank yourself for your planning abilities. After all, what they say is true: a failure to plan is a plan to fail.
Make Your Goals S.M.A.R.T.
Of course, all the planning in the world won’t make up for bad technique. Life-hack your goals by making sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. In case you haven’t heard of this acronym, it’s the criteria necessary to create a doable goal. It posits that all goals should be:
For example, say you want to get a better grade in algebra this semester. Rather than just thinking about the goal, run it through a few filters first to make it S.M.A.R.T. How do you define a better grade? How will you know if you’ve achieved your goal? Are you holding yourself to an unrealistic expectation? Is your algebra grade relevant to your overall life goals? When will you achieve your goal by?
Apply the S.M.A.R.T. strategy to all of your goals in 2019 and the difference will be clear. Whatever you hope to achieve this year, you can do so as long as the goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Success is yours for the taking!