Before you packed your bags and returned for the spring semester, you — like many of your peers — probably made a few New Year’s resolutions. If you made one, congratulations! According to John C. Norcross of the University of Scranton, making a formal resolution — the practice of telling people about your goal — will increase your chance of maintaining it dramatically. Sixty-four percent of people who informed others of their resolutions kept them to the end of January, compared to the fourteen percent who kept their resolutions private.
Common resolutions students make are to get into shape, to save money and to improve their grades. If any of these are one of your resolutions — or one you would like to attempt — you are in luck. We have made a guide to help you start and maintain any of these resolutions.
Getting back in shape
Pledging to get into shape is both the most common and most difficult New Year’s resolution. You can start by setting a simple, specific goal for yourself — such as “lose one pound a week” or “go to the rec center three times a week.” This is more effective than making a vague goal such as “eat healthy” because you are able to track your progress each week.
Another good tip is to plan. Make a grocery list before you go shopping and set your phone and computer to remind you to work out. One of the best ways to boost your desire to work out is plan to go with a friend. You will feel compelled to go because of your agreement to support each other, you will have the support of a friend if you feel discouraged, and you will have someone to spot you when performing more difficult exercises.
Do not forget to post your progress on Facebook and Twitter. You may feel like you are bragging, but by telling others about your resolution, you will feel pressured to continue if you hit a rut.
Lastly, do not fall prey to the trap of overreacting to a missed workout. When you miss once, do not dismiss the next workout because “I already missed one this week.” This not only weakens your good workout habits, but also makes a small problem into a bigger problem.
Getting your finances in order
Attending college is expensive and keeping track of money can be a difficult challenge for students who have little to no experience with personal finance. As a result, many students find that balancing their finances while studying, working and managing their relationships can be an exercise in frustration. Unlike the first resolution, this one is more of a challenge to start.
The first thing you should do is figure out the state of your finances — who you owe and how much you owe them, what is your credit history, how much you make a month, etc. After you have done that you can now set your goal — remember to make it specific — such as “save $100 a month to pay off my loan” or “put a TV on my credit card to build my credit.”
To keep from overspending, you need to create a budget. The power of a budget is that it gives you a visual representation of how much money you have to spend — it is more difficult to buy that item on impulse when you realize you will not be able to afford gas for the rest of the month. After a month of tracking, you’ll learn the exact areas where you need to cut spending.
If spreadsheets are not your cup of tea, then there are hundreds of apps for your phone and computer that can assist you. Many of these will not only help you create a budget, but they will also tell you the current balance of your bank accounts and your credit debt. Mobile apps will also allow you to double check your purchases wherever you go, allowing you to make purchases confidently.
Few things are more stressful for a college student than failing to meet academic expectations. It could be said without exaggeration that nearly every student at UTSA has resolved to make better grades at some point in their academic career. As always, the key is to make specific goals — such as “study for four hours every day” or “go to every SI/tutorial session.”
Getting the grade
Organization is your greatest ally when studying. When you receive your syllabus mark — or enter on your phone or computer — the dates of every exam in a dedicated calendar. Doing this creates a visual guide that will show you when you need to start studying for each of your exams.
Try to get into the habit of planning when to study each subject. With careful planning, you will be able to enjoy social outings while also making good grades.
If your first exam grades are not what you expected, do not be discouraged. Go over them with your professor, if possible, and figure out what you need to work on to improve on the next exam. If you are struggling to succeed on your own, Blackboard has an email system that allows you to e-mail every member in each of your classes. This makes it very easy for you to form study groups, ask for help and even get assignments you may have missed due to absence.
Lastly, take the time to calculate your grades. This will not only show you which classes you need improvement in, but will allow you to figure out what you need to score on each assignment to make the grade you desire.
No matter what your New Year’s resolution is, there is one tenet you should never forget to practice — rewarding yourself. Even a little reward can go a long way towards relieving stress and making your efforts seem worthwhile. Try placing rewards at milestones towards your ultimate goal. When used this way, rewards can become a great aid to your progress — something to motivate you when you are struggling to stay on track.