What Are the Best New Year’s Resolutions for College Students?

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Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: March 22, 2024, Reading time: 6 minutes

With every ending comes a new beginning. As we approach the final stretch of the year, we look forward to the next, filled with positive change, growth, and hope.

Whether you’re an incoming college student, preparing for college graduation, or somewhere in the middle, it’s never too late to make changes for the better.

Get the Right Amount of Zzz’s

sleeping habits

College (depending on your degree and course) could be taking a toll on your health with sleep deprivation.

According to NCBI, about 50% of college students have experienced daytime sleepiness, while 70% suffered from insufficient sleep.

This can be a problem as sleep deprivation can lead to lower grades, mood swings, and a higher risk of vehicular accidents.

If you happen to be a neurotic planner, getting this on your list could increase your health, energy, and even your life! To set realistic goals, you can start by creating a routine out of this objective.

Try establishing a pattern that your brain can adjust to easily (the keyword here is “easily”) because the simpler it is, the more likely your brain will cooperate. College life is already hectic as it is; establishing a routine may also get you some much-needed Zzz’s in the long run.

 For the neurotic note-taker: Instead of writing “get more sleep,” try “get 7 hours of sleep for X week (or days).” This is an excellent start to establishing this routine.

Find Time to Exercise

exercise routines

College life can get pretty hectic, and finding time to prepare healthy meals and establish an exercise schedule can be nearly impossible.

In this era of mobile phones and computers, health issues may crop up from the sedentary behavior of stressed college students.

But there is a solution.

Try integrating physical activity into your routine for at least 30 minutes. Studies have shown that those who engage in physical exercises such as walking, jogging, or going to the gym improve memory, concentration, stress relief, and mood.

If you’re trying to lose some pounds and get your man-bod or woman-bod back, 30 minutes of exercise per day can help you get your figure goals.

The intensity and frequency of your workout may vary depending on many factors, but the important thing is just to get started.

For the neurotic note-taker: Instead of writing “work out in the gym,” try using “hit the gym at least thrice a week for at least a 30-minute exercise.” You can do this with a workout buddy so you can motivate each other.

Rig the Game

rig the game

Life is full of challenges—and college is a jungle of it. Whether you’re cramming to meet graduation requirements or in the process of completing your thesis, you can get the job done in less time by “rigging the game.”

Best-selling author Tim Ferriss gave a piece of sound advice: Ask yourself first: “Am I making this harder than it should be?” It’s a viable question worth reflecting on, especially if you have been feeling burned out lately.

By clearing your mind of distractions and focusing on what needs to be done, you can target the right goals, keep yourself focused, and “rig the game.”

Setting the bar low for college students who are intimidated by goal setting can help you achieve them and progress. The key here is to remove the pressure of accomplishing your big goals daily and settle for small, incremental purposes.

For the neurotic note-taker: In Leo Babauta’s ‘Power of Less,’ you can select a habit that you’d like to change for a month. Choose only one for this modification to work.

For example, get more sleep for this month. Say, establish a sleep routine of 7 hours per day. Work on this for a month before modifying a different habit. Every single day, write down your goals and be specific about them.

Limit Your Extracurriculars

limit your extracurriculars

If you’re a social butterfly who loves to be part of almost every club available at your university, it might be best to slow down a bit.

Taking on more extracurricular activities than you can handle might sound like a winning habit. However, focusing on so many things can also slow you down, and you don’t want that for tasks that can make or break your graduation.

Participating in one or two co-curricular activities will be enough to keep you busy throughout your school year. This way, you don’t feel overwhelmed with commitments and work on your studies instead.

For the neurotic note-taker: If you’ve overcommitted yourself to more than two after-school activities, try creating a list out of this.

From here, you can do some reflection and see which ones will benefit you most. It could be for enjoyment purposes, advocacy, or something that’s in line with what you’re pursuing.

Do Something New Once A Month

do something new once a month

College life isn’t all rosy. Sure, daily routines, late-night studying, and socializing can be healthy for you. However, all these don’t do much for your creativity.

According to a study from Harvard, our brain is malleable. They call it “neuronal plasticity.”

In simple terms, it means that challenging our brains by learning a new language or taking on a new sport can trigger change or build new connections inside.

It will ‘rewire’ how we think about certain things and give us a new cognitive capacity. Engaging in social engagement, mental stimulation, and physical activities keeps your brain healthy and alert.

For the neurotic note-taker: It might be best to take classes that align with what you want to accomplish while at university.

If you’re not a risk-taker, try volunteering in a nearby charity club or exploring a new city with a group. This way, you get to engage and learn how to make small talk along the way.

It can be extremely difficult to achieve your objective, and you will be subjected to many failures. When such situations arise, remember the adage, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It couldn’t be more accurate.

Key Takeaway

The New Year is the perfect time to reflect and do something to improve the quality of your life in college. Remember to look into the future while everyone’s busy and having a good “this-is-the-now” time these holidays. Strive to be a better college student. Make change happen to you this New Year!