Even though we flip our calendars to a new month 12 times throughout the year, moving from December to January is the time when most people decide to begin anew. Starting from scratch, so to speak, is exciting and the thought of having a clean slate once again is motivating.
Statistics have found that that roughly half of all adults make at least one resolution for the New Year. “Lose weight” and “quit smoking” are common goals, but they don’t apply to everyone so we’ve compiled 12 New Year’s resolutions that are appropriate for many students. Find a few that you agree with and give it your best shot—get motivated, because making small changes in your life now will most likely be much easier than making changes once you’re job hunting after graduation.
1. File the FAFSA. The U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required to determine eligibility for and receive federal and state financial aid, including grants and student loans. Many colleges and universities also require the FAFSA to receive institutional financial aid, such as scholarships from the school itself. Because many types of financial aid funds are distributed on a first come, first served basis and money can run out, waiting to file the FAFSA is not a good idea. The FAFSA for the 2013-14 school year is available online at fafsa.ed.gov. Beware of websites with similar domain names and always remember that filing the FAFSA is always free.
2. Get organized. Taking care of the FAFSA as soon as possible is a step in the right direction, but getting organized in general will help you get the year off to a great start. Digging through piles of old notebooks and textbooks—and constantly misplacing files on your computer—wastes a lot of time. So does digging through your closet and dresser drawers for clothes that fit. Get things as organized as you can now, and be sure to straighten up your dorm room once you’re back at school.
3. Make a schedule and stick to it. Go over your class schedule and work schedule if you have a part-time job during the semester. Make sure nothing overlaps and give yourself enough time to get from Point A to Point B. Ditching classes early to get to work isn’t a good idea—even occasionally. Once you have your class syllabi, enter all due dates and exam dates in your day planner or online calendar. Making a schedule now can help prevent procrastination and potential schedule disasters down the road.
4. Create a budget to start spending and saving wisely. College students are generally considered broke, and in many cases it’s true. Resist the urge to open multiple credit cards to fund your lifestyle and start living within your means. Calculate how much money you receive each month from part-time jobs, work study, and your parents. There’s no reason you should be spending more money than you actually have. Start setting aside a percentage of your monthly income for savings because you never know when an emergency that requires cash will pop up.
5. Drink less alcohol. If you drink, as many college students do, make a sincere effort to drink less. No elaborate explanations are necessary for this one.
6. Make healthier food choices. The jokes about living on ramen noodles and Easy Mac in the dorm are often true. Start paying more attention to what you put into your body—yes, in addition to the alcohol that you should also be limiting. The Freshman 15 may be a myth, but a large number of students gain weight during college due to poor food choices—weight that they never lose.
7. Get enough sleep. If you party hearty and pull all-night cramming sessions on a regular basis, you most likely aren’t getting enough sleep. Even occasional sleep deprivation can catch up with you over time, possibly leading to multiple health problems.
8. Let’s get physical! No, not that kind of physical! Mayo Clinic specialists recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. That translates into 30 minutes per day, five days per week. Most large college campuses have gyms in addition to tracks, pools, and other exercise facilities. Take advantage of them or at the very least walk or bike across campus as often as possible. Your heart and your waistline will thank you.
9. Help others. Research has found that a majority of today’s college students, Millennials or Generation Y, are much more self-centered and narcissistic when compared to past generations. Although you should always look out for number one, make an effort to help other people and be polite. You’d appreciate it if others did the same, wouldn’t you?
10. Get social in person. Spending time and speaking with friends in person rather than by video chat or text is one way to start connecting with others. Social media’s main goal is also to connect with others, but it tends to limit actual in-person interaction. Spend less time on Facebook and more time hanging out.
11. Get out of your comfort zone. Sign up for an elective that deals with a topic you’re interested in but never studied before, or join a new club that can help you get out of your comfort zone. It’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut, even during the hustle and bustle of college.
12. Line up a summer job or internship. Just as financial aid is distributed on a first come, first served basis, the best summer jobs and internships have a tendency to be full weeks or even months before summer. Start pounding the pavement now to secure a position for the summer.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
Have something to say? Feel free to add comments or additional information.