Some people vow to get thinner. Some vow to get richer. Why not vow to get smarter? Take advantage of the clean slate that a new year offers by setting some academic resolutions. Here are some of our favorites:
You’ve put it off long enough!
You’d be amazed by the difference that an end to procrastination can make to your grades, test scores, stress levels, and overall quality of life. Think about it! No more last-minute cram sessions. No more yelling at the printer to spit out your paper faster. No more cursing the Wi-Fi gods because an assignment that’s due next period won’t load.
For a lifelong procrastinator, change comes hard. We get it—the immediate gratification of doing literally anything other than the boring things you should be doing is SO. MUCH. BETTER than the delayed gratification of finishing your tasks in a timely manner.
Immediate gratification is, after all, gratifying.
Sadly, there’s no secret shortcut to making this academic resolution happen. Changing this kind of habit takes willpower and self-discipline—and a plan. We can’t give you better willpower, but we can help you with a plan:
Create short-term goals and rewards.
When you give up procrastination, you’re trading in immediate rewards for long-term rewards. It helps to make the delayed gratification a little less delayed by setting short-term goals and rewarding yourself for reaching them. Start small. For example, maybe you give yourself 5 minutes of phone time for every 10 minutes of uninterrupted studying, and then for every 15 minutes, and then for every 20 minutes, and so on.
Write down EVERYTHING.
When you put everything off until the last minute, you get caught up in the rush of taking care of the here and now instead of looking ahead to the future. It becomes easy to forget about tests or due dates that are more than just a day or two away because you’re so busy worrying about the quiz that’s next period. Before you know it, those dates have snuck up on you, and you’re once again trapped in the rush of last minute preparation.
Put an end to the cycle. Get a planner and write down everything.
It’s a lot harder to justify putting things off when you have the visual reminder of upcoming deadlines, and you’re a lot less likely to forget about things if you’ve got everything written down.
Break big tasks down into little ones.
Let’s say you’ve got a big essay due in three weeks. Three weeks! you think to yourself. That’s PLENTY of time! I’ll get started tomorrow. Or maybe next week.
Before you know it, three weeks has turned into three days, and you haven’t even started.
Break big tasks down into little ones and give each little task its own deadline. The essay isn’t due for three weeks then becomes I’ve got to have my research finished by day after tomorrow. This way, even if you let yourself procrastinate on each smaller task, you’ll still stay on track to finish the whole project in time.
For this academic resolution, it’s time to channel Marie Kondo!
It’s a lot easier to do well in school if you can actually locate your schoolwork. A new semester is a great chance to shovel out your locker/book bag/bedroom and start fresh. Once you’ve got everything neatly organized, keeping it that way is tough. Here are some tips to help:
Clean out your stuff.
At least once a week, clean out your backpack, binders, and locker. It you do it regularly, cleaning everything out only takes a few minutes (because there won’t be six weeks’ worth of candy bar wrappers and crumpled class notes floating around). Put this cleaning time on your schedule. Make a calendar reminder. Set an alarm. Do whatever you have to do to annoy yourself into this chore.
Create a system.
You’re more likely to actually stay organized if you first create an organization system. Maybe you’re a three-ring-binder-and-color-coded-dividers type of gal. Maybe you’re a manila-folders-and-labels kind of guy. Whatever floats your boat.
Avoid loose papers.
Loose pages are the enemy. It’s just so easy to stuff them in the front of a binder or in the bottom of a backpack, never to be seen again.
There are a lot of loose pages you can’t eliminate—like anything your teacher gives you. The best you can do with these is to file them away in a binder or folder as quickly as possible.
But there are some loose pages you CAN eliminate. One best practice is to only take class notes in spiral notebooks—your notes stay nice and neat and in chronological order instead of becoming extra pages to float around your nasty locker.
Build Better Study Skills
You study and study, but your test scores don’t go up. Things go in one ear and out the other (or, in the case of reading, in one eye and out the other?).
You’re studying wrong.
Here’s how to do it right:
See: Stop procrastinating above.
To really learn new things, you need to space out your learning over time. Cramming for a test is a really short-term solution with some bad long-term consequences.
Don’t ignore your health.
You’re young and healthy, so clearly you can subsist on Doritos, Gatorade, and four hours of sleep!
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Good diet, exercise, and plenty of sleep will literally make you smarter.
Study in different places.
The old advice to set up a quiet study spot and always study in that same spot is actually wrong. Science suggests that your best bet is to study the same material in different places to build stronger associations with the information.
Studies show that you’re more likely to retain information if you learn it with the intent of explaining it to someone else—better yet, really master the info by actually teaching it to someone else!
The more often you have to recall information, the better you get at recalling it. If you test yourself on the stuff you’re studying, you’ll have an easier time remembering key info on your actual test day. Learn about the science behind these study skills tips with Five Study Skills to Master, According to Science.
Make Your Academic Resolutions Come True
Bringing these academic resolutions into reality can make even the most determined students feel a bit challenged. Get the academic support you need from your local C2 Education and make this year your most successful one yet!