It’s a new year, which means it’s also New Year’s Resolutions time! When you’re a college student, many of those resolutions may be academic goals. Now that the spring semester is starting back up, here are a few helpful tips to stay focused on your studies, keep on track, and make it an awesome year.

Create a schedule for each new semester.

To be the best student possible, you must maintain an effective study plan. The core of that plan is a detailed calendar of your daily activities. Here’s how to do it (using a paper calendar or smartphone calendar—whatever works best for you):

  • Step 1 – The best calendars for students include hourly slots. First, block out time for your “essential” activities: sleep time, meal time, class time, work time, and other obligations. You can download printable calendars for free (check Pinterest), buy a planner at Barnes & Noble, or, of course, use your smartphone.
  • Step 2 – Now, take a look at your weekly calendar and any open time slots. Block off study time. You can certainly be flexible with what you study and when (depending on each week’s workload), but the important thing is to write down what when you will study in your planner—and stick to it. After your first week of classes, hopefully you’ll have an idea how much studying you’ll need to invest into each class.
  • Step 3 – As soon as you get course syllabi, record all upcoming important dates on your calendar: tests, quizzes, project due dates, and anything else. Also, build in a project/study schedule for each major task. For example, if you have a 20-page paper due on February 20, you might plan to have a first draft ready by February 13 (with a week cushion for review and edits), an outline by February 9, all research completed by February 5, and a topic selected by February 1.

Now what?

Keep your planner or calendar with you and refer to it throughout today to keep yourself on task. Each weekend, put together a weekly to-do list with all of the school items you need to complete by the following Friday and any upcoming tests or projects. Each morning, make a list of the to-dos for that day, including the areas of focus for your study time that day.

Need other New Year’s study tips? Learn how to be a great college student, find a planner app to help you stay organized, and improve your time management. Good luck and may this be your best semester yet!

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