I have BIG PLANS for this school year, peoples. Freshman year was basically trial and error: I just concentrated on getting through the school year with decent grades. That was really the only goal I had!
Now that I’ve figured out what does and doesn’t work for me, areas in which I would like to challenge myself, et cetera, however, I’ve come up with a list of ten goals that will push me to make this school year the best one yet.
And here they are!
1. Get on the President’s List
I made the Dean’s List both semesters last year, so this time I set my sights even higher. To get on the Dean’s List your GPA has to be at least 3.50 for one semester, but to make the President’s List you need a perfect 4.0 for BOTH semesters. This goal is #1 on my list because all of the following goals will help me to earn those high grades!
P.S. This is actually related to another set of goals/challenges that I’ll talk about in a while… like in a couple of weeks? VERY MYSTERIOUS, I KNOW.
2. Go to my professors’ and TAs’ office hours at least once each semester
Going to office hours, even just to introduce myself to the professor, can make or break a grade. If I’m straddling that line between a B and an A, a professor or TA who remembers that I came in to ask a question – and during a time other than dead week or finals week, to boot – can make all the difference. Also, there are just lots of really interesting people in the English department and the school of journalism, so it’s fun to talk to them!
3. Use the Pomodoro technique
I first heard about this from one of my journalism professors, then tried this while I was taking summer classes and liked it, so now I just need to remember to do this more often! The idea behind the Pomodoro technique is that you work in twenty-five minute intervals with short breaks in between, which allows you plenty of time to get things done while ensuring that you don’t get burnt out. This really helps me to fight procrastination because I know that even if I’m feeling particularly fidgety and distracted, my next break is no more than twenty-five minutes away!
4. Study in my room less
Last year I basically never left my room to study unless I studied with my friend Jill or had a study group meeting scheduled in order to prep for an exam. This year I want to change that! I want my dorm room, tiny and old as it is, to be a place where I can relax. I want to be able to come home at the end of the day having done all or most of my homework and studying so that I can read a book, write something just for fun and not for a grade, or what have you.
5. Find new places to study
Aaaaand piggybacking off of my previous goal, I’m on a mission to find some new study spots! I’ve been able to find quite a few that I think will do nicely – everywhere from the libraries and bookstores nearby to the student union and the multiple enormous student lounges in my dorm.
6. Create an appealing study space in my dorm room
I know this may seem out of line with the previous two goals, but just hear me out: When I do need or want to study in my room, I want to make what space I do have an inviting one. Here are some of the things I’ve done to that end:
- Organized markers, pens, and pencils in a tin can and an old mug so that they’re always handy when I need them, not buried deep in some desk drawer
- Arranged my many notebooks, folders, and loose papers with two bookends on one side of my desk
- Placed a mini white board where I will always be able to reach and see it, meaning that I always know what comes next on my to-do list
- Hung a brightly colored bulletin board above my desk, with positive/inspiring pictures and quotes thumbtacked to it
I still prefer studying outside my room, but you wouldn’t believe how much more I enjoy working at my desk now that my space is organized and brightly colored! It makes me in the mood to be productive.
7. Make a study schedule and stick to it
I studied a lot last year, but I didn’t really have a set schedule or anything? I’ve been working on one for this semester, though. (Obviously I’ll have to make a new one for the spring because I’ll be taking different classes!) I don’t want to have a super strict schedule that tells me what I should be doing each and every second of the day, but I do want to block out some time for certain activities – whether those are studying, writing, exercise, practicing the piano, et cetera. I’m also hoping that this will help me to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
8. Take Sundays off
This year I want to organize my studying and homework time in such a way that I do little or no schoolwork on Sundays! That doesn’t mean that I sit around and do nothing that day, though – instead, that’s the day when I do anything that I wasn’t able to do while focusing so hard on studying! I can read, write, blog, watch movies or TV, go for a walk, exercise, hang out with a friend, clean my room, do errands, visit the bookstore or library, or even study something unrelated to school!
I implemented my new schedule starting on Monday and while it admittedly still has some issues – I need to block out stricter study times – I was able to take Sunday off and it was GLORIOUS. It’s nice to just take a break from it all after working hard all week. Last year I always used to feel guilty about taking any sizable chunk of time off because I worked all week but definitely not as hard as I possibly could have, but by the end of the first week of school I was exhausted and truly enjoyed my break because I knew I deserved it.
9. Visit the Writing Center once a week
I signed up for weekly appointments, so this is one of the first things I do on Monday mornings! I procrastinate, like, a LOT, so I used what little self-motivation I have to set up those appointments in order to keep me accountable to someone else: If I don’t bring anything to work on or be looked over during this time, I’ll feel embarrassed to waste my tutor’s time. Also, signing up for this service guarantees that I’ll get feedback about my writing from at least one other person before I hand it in.
10. Try the Cornell note-taking system
I’m all about fancy notes lately – blame it on those gorgeous studyblr posts! The Cornell method looks much more streamlined and organized than my current note-taking setup. (Right now I use the outline method.) This system also seems to require a great deal of reflection in the form of summaries and key questions that you add to the notes after the lecture, which can only be a good thing.
Have you set any goals for this school year and if so, what are they? I’d love to hear more about them – perhaps we can touch base throughout the school year and either celebrate or lament how things are going, depending on what happens over the course of this year! Good luck, everyone!