Preparing for College

Resolution Revolution

It's early January, the beginning of a new year. College students have returned to campus after what may have been a long holiday break and are ready to undertake what seems like the longest stretch of the academic year. In other words, it's back to business … big time.

Of course, this time of (New) year, we keep hearing about so-called resolutions. “What resolutions have you made this year?" is a sometimes annoying question that fills our ears in January. My crotchety response is always, “I have resolved not to make any resolutions!" That just me, though.

What I'd like to address today, for all you college students and even forward-thinking high school students, is how to make your school year better by actually making some resolutions for the New Year that will improve your life on campus and/or academically. Don't worry, though. There's plenty of time in your (much) later life for you to get grouchy like I am about resolutions.

Thus, the “Revolution" part of my title above relates to the nature of your school-related resolutions. These won't be about losing weight, getting back into shape, saving money, etc., although those are perfectly reasonable goals. The ones I'm suggesting involve actions that can make you a better student and provide you with an improved educational experience.

In doing some research about “revolutionary" resolutions, I came across some interesting information from this site, which is devoted to helping students improve their global educational environment. I thought that I would share some highlights from a couple articles there that address student resolutions. Here goes … resolved:

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" … 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.

– 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 … 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."

– 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 … No matter what you add or switch, doing little changes every time you eat can lead to big differences.

– 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 …

– 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 … (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.)

– 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 … 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?

– 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 …

– 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 … 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


The Beatles used to sing, “You say you want a revolution." Well, I say, “You should really make some good resolutions." Granted, my version won't be a Top-10 hit, but it could make a difference for you. Happy resolving!


Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles on College Confidential.