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The Top Seven New Year's Resolutions for Students

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top resolutions for studentsIf you’re a student, chances are one of your New Year’s resolutions is getting better grades. That’s a good goal to have, but do you know how you’re going to achieve it? Here are seven easy ways to make this school year the best year ever.

1. Get physical. You may think that getting good grades is all in your head, but ignoring your body is a big mistake. Physical activity boosts blood flow to the brain and helps you stay focused in even the toughest of terms. Plan to work out at least twenty minutes a day.

2. Stop procrastinating. A smart way to do this is by breaking down large tasks into their component parts and setting a deadline for each part. For example, if you’ve got a twenty-page paper to write, first decide when you have to do the research, decide on a thesis, make an outline, and so on. Once you divide projects into manageable chunks, putting things off will be a thing of the past.

3. Sleep more. It’s no secret that college students are a sleep-deprived bunch. However, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for your grades. So how can you catch more ZZZ’s this year? Don’t overextend yourself—it’s okay to say no to an activity if you don’t have the time. Also, start your studying early and space it out so you can avoid the dreaded all-nighter.

4. Break your social media habit. Many students start their homework with the best of intentions, but before they know it they’re sucked into the digital black hole of Facebook, Twitter, or some other site. This year, make a resolution to spend less time online. When you’re studying, disconnect your wi-fi or turn your computer off. Apps such as Freedom, Anti-Social, and SelfControl can block your access to the Internet or specific sites.

5. Eat a brain-healthy diet. In general, what’s good for your body is good for your brain. So this year, cut down on sugar; don’t skip meals; and eat foods that promote brain health such as blueberries, nuts, salmon, eggs, avocadoes, and beets.

6. Get to know your professors. Go to their office hours, talk to them after class, and so on. You shouldn’t pester them too much, of course, but don’t be shy about approaching them. You’ll get a better sense of how they think, they’ll see you’re making an effort, and you may end up with a higher grade (or even a letter of recommendation) at the end of the term.

7. Resolve to keep your resolutions. As we all know, resolutions are easy to make but just as easily broken. To ensure that yours survive, write them down and put them in a place you’ll see every day. Tell your friends and family about them so they can give you moral support (and maybe some good-natured nagging). And don’t forget to reward yourself for sticking with the program.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

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Stefanie Weisman became the valedictorian of Stuyvesant High School in 1999 and went on to study history at Columbia University. She was awarded the Albert Asher Green Prize for having the highest GPA in her class. After working for several years in corporate America, she got her M.A. in the history of art and archaeology. She was a Craig Hugh Smyth fellow at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Around this time, Weisman developed an interest in technology and returned to Columbia to get a B.S. in computer science.

Weisman is the author of The Secrets of Top Students.