New year’s resolutions: Study goals
New year, new me! A not so uncommon saying around these days. New year’s resolutions are popular, which is no surprise since people generally want to make the best of the new year. A big part of this year as students is, of course, studying. However, this isn’t always easy. Therefore, I asked some students about their new year’s resolutions regarding education. They might have some useful insights for you.
In this mini-interview, I spoke to six students. They come from various disciplines and universities. Laura studies Business Economics at Tilburg University, Saskia is an architecture student in Antwerp, and Kia is becoming a surgeon assistant at HAN Nijmegen. Furthermore, Britt is currently writing her thesis in Law in Tilburg, and Vivian and Denise are both Media and Journalism master’s students here at Erasmus University. I hope their tips might help to make your 2022 something less stressful!
Does the start of a new year have some symbolic meaning for you, or do you perceive January 1st as any other day?
Denise: “Yes, it really does! On the last day of the year, I always reflect very deeply on the past year, the lessons learned, and the memories made. I also set goals for the new year, both long-term and short-term. The new year feels like such a fresh start to me, a possibility to grow, achieve and experience even more.”
Laura: “For me, the start of the new year is a period where I look back on the previous year. I set goals for me to achieve for the upcoming year. However, I usually do not set goals for studying on January 1st, since the new academic year starts in September. So no specific resolutions, but there is always room for improvement.”
Saskia: “Well, the first of January is a hangover day for me, so my resolutions start at the second.”
“The new year feels like such a fresh start to me, a possibility to grow, achieve and experience even more.”
What are your new year’s resolutions regarding studying?
Vivian: “It would be amazing if I would finally learn to plan this year. I am not that sensitive to stress, but it still would be great if I could finish my assignments earlier than just one hour before the deadline for once.”
Britt: “I have two resolutions for the year 2022. First, I want to graduate from my HBO bachelor's in law. Secondly, I want to make a great start at my premaster law, which I will be starting when I finish my bachelor's.”
Kia: “My most important new year's resolution is to try being less stressed. Especially when it comes to internships, I generally worry way too much.”
Can you explain what study skills need improvement compared to 2021?
Laura: “My study skills that need improvement are mostly smaller assignments during the semester. I tend to procrastinate all uni work until the end of the semester. To make exam weeks less stressful, I have to start doing these assignments during the semester instead of letting it all pileup. So, it actually comes down to stopping procrastinating.”
Saskia: “I mostly tend to be able to recall only the broad lines of the material, and once the exam starts, I always struggle with remembering specific facts about concepts and theories. Therefore, this year I want to focus more on remembering the details.”
Denise: “Since the first classes of the new year will be online, I want to make sure that I motivate myself more than I did last year and actively participate in online lectures. Get dressed, do my make-up, and have breakfast before the lecture starts.”
“What I want to achieve? Surviving 2022..”
Is there anything in particular that you want to achieve when it comes to your studies or career this year?
Britt: “The upcoming year will be special because I will be studying at a university for the first time. I hope to finish my bachelor's with a satisfied feeling and with good grades to start my academic career with confidence. I think I can only achieve this by taking enough rest in between deadlines. This will, thus, be my resolution for this new year.”
Kia: “What I want to achieve? Surviving 2022 and hopefully finishing my minor this year.”
Vivian: “My intention for this year is, of course, to be able to say that I finished my master Media and Journalism this summer. This would mean that completed two masters in one year. Besides this, I think that after completing my master's, I am going to get to work after the summer. But, what kind of job? Still got no idea.”
“…for me, it works best to do multiple things at the same time while studying.”
“Writing by hand works the best!”
What is your ultimate study trick that you want others to know?
Saskia: “For me writing by hand works the best! I write summaries and keep on writing core points until I remember them.”
Denise: “As crazy as it may sound, for me, it works best to do multiple things at the same time while studying. My brain isn’t occupied enough if I stare at a screen, so I try to write things down while singing along to the songs I know best. It gives me more focus and helps me achieve my studying goals.”
Laura: “My best study tip is to make schedules. Not only per week or day but also for the whole block or semester. As a consequence, you will create a more detailed overview of what is left to do, and it facilitates setting priorities. This will (hopefully) prevent you from stressful situations when deadlines or exams are approaching.”
“Keep your learning process closest to a normal situation…”
Study tips for during the lockdown?
Kia: “My best study tip for lockdown studying is keeping your learning process closest to a normal situation because you are still doing the same studies. Requirements for internships and the content of the exams are still the same.”
Vivian: “Sports, sports, and more sports. Since November this year, I started to work out a lot more, and this majorly improves your attention span and your overall energy level. Gyms are closed now, I know, but taking a morning walk, or going for a run after you get up really contributes to your motivation. Really great start of the day!”
Britt: “My lockdown tip is going outside. It clears your mind and creates a distraction from the learning material. Relaxing results in a better focus on your goals, even in times of stress and uncertainty. So, take breaks!”
“Sports, sports, and more sports.”
New year’s resolution: work less, perform better!
I hope you might have been inspired by some of these study tips and tricks, but if you are not entirely convinced, let’s look at what experts recommend. Oxford Learning states the obvious: get organized, make sure you won’t be distracted, pay attention in class, and ask questions. I think we all know that, but even if we do all this, we’re not there yet. Everyone knows the feeling of sitting behind your laptop and not getting anything done. Spending hours of our precious time on the same study material and not being able to recall a single thing from what you’ve just read. Time to change that.
Besides the cliché tips, Oxford also mentioned two potentially useful tips that form the core of effective studying: study in short bursts and study together with others. Studying in short periods has everything to do with our short attention span. Our attention span is roughly 30 to 45 minutes. After this time, our memory is getting less effective, and remembering study material gets harder and harder when time passes. Better is to take some distance from your work. Take a break for 10 to 15 minutes where you’ll do anything besides studying. Finding out what specific study break works best also majorly contributes to your effectiveness. Maybe you’ll perform best when you take a walk, just like Britt recommended, but your effectiveness might also improve when you watch some Netflix to distract your brains for a while. Find out what study break works for you!
The second potentially useful recommendation of Oxford is studying together. It combines peer pressure, planned breaks, and the ability to discuss. I think the majority of students can agree that not really the studying itself but starting it is the most difficult. If you plan a study date with your friends, it can indeed be somewhat distracting, but the most important is that you started. Once you discuss the material with your friends, you will begin to process the material, and studying will get much easier. Besides, studying with friends seems to boost your confidence!
Whatever might work for you, the EmbrACE committee wishes you all luck for 2022. Hopefully, with little stress and lots of beautiful accomplishments. Cheers to the new year!