Have you made your list of New Year’s resolutions yet? I’m betting there is something on there about getting in shape or losing a few pounds. You might even be thinking about becoming a vegetarian. Those are all fine and dandy, but they probably won’t help you become a better student or reach your academic goals for 2014. And, if you’re like me, that 'going without meat' thing will get old very soon! Trust me; I have made the same resolutions time and time again. Save yourself the frustration and focus on what really matters – improving your mind and financial well-being. If you truly want to have a fantastic 2014, consider adding these resolutions to your list.
1. Learn Time-Management Skills
Life is a balancing act, both in and out of school. If you truly want to succeed, you’ll need to learn how to prioritize and juggle multiple projects at a time. A great way to do this is to become friends with the ‘to-do’ list, or master the Outlook calendar on your phone or computer. Mark down everything you have coming up, including class assignments and projects, tests, volunteer work, practices, and even outside appointments. Don’t forget to pencil in some quiet time, too; schedule a few hours each week to just relax and have some fun. Keep in mind, if you place too many things on your plate, something will eventually fall off.
2. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Trying new things can be scary. You never know if you’ll be good at them or wind up looking like a total fool. Guess what? Either scenario is perfectly fine. You’re never going to be great at everything and you can learn a lot from your failures. And here’s the really interesting part, your true calling could be out there waiting for you, but if you don’t step out of your comfort zone, you’ll never know about it. This year, try a new sport, join a new club, or learn a new skill. Life is an adventure, so get off the paved road and explore a little.
3. Update Your Résumé
If you’re a high school freshman or older, you should have a current résumé on file. Why? You will need it for a variety of things, such as internships, job interviews, and even some scholarships. Even if you have never worked before, it’s good to get in the habit of creating your résumé. Include your educational and career goals, your academic record, as well as honors and awards. It’s also a good idea to catalog your volunteer activities and hours, as these may also help land you an internship or possibly lead to free money for college. DoYouBuzz.com has a great free tool and you can upgrade to their premium service ($39), if you really want to add some extra pizzazz.
4. Create a Bucket List
HerCampus recently posted an article on the importance of having a bucket list, especially if you’re a college student. It may seem like you have a ton of time to experience everything on and off campus, but it will go by in the blink of an eye. Write down everything you want to do, like going to a college football game or spending a semester abroad. Don’t forget to include activities outside of campus, too. You may not remain in your college town after you graduate, so explore it while you have the chance to take it all in. Start working on it your freshman year, and don’t forget to update it often.
5. Apply for Scholarships
Whether you are a high school freshman or a graduate student, make time in your busy schedule to apply for scholarships. With the average student loan debt creeping closer to $30,000, it’s important to use every resource possible to keep your debt to a minimum. At least once a month, if not more, set aside a few hours to work on applications. There are scholarship deadlines every month, so there’s no excuse for waiting to start your search. Meet with your guidance counselor or financial aid officer, check with area businesses and organizations, and review listings on social media forums. Don’t forget to use a free, online search tool, like ScholarshipExperts.com, as this is one of the easiest ways to find scholarships that are perfect for you. Even winning just one award means you have saved yourself from taking out additional loan money and the interest that would accumulate over the life of the loan.
The first few months of the New Year are always exciting, and they can often set the tone for the remainder of the year. Make a commitment to sticking to these resolutions and you’ll not only have a great 2014, but a brighter future, as well.
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