Back in school, each new year started with a beautiful and organised pencil case – I colour coded my kokie pens, my Tipp-Ex was full, and my notepads were clean and blank – waiting for me to fill them with beautiful handwriting.
That whole thing lasted about a week, if I was lucky. An organised pencil case soon became the priority of yesterday, and what started as a beautiful handwriting on page 1 soon morphed into scribbles embroidered by occasional doodle art.
I was convinced I’d break the cycle once I entered university, since this was going to be serious business. No more school play. Oh please.
But, on the bright side, I was not the only one. In fact, the yearly New Year’s resolutions I gave myself as a student turn out to be extremely widespread among the student species. Though I’m not guilty of all of these, here is a list of 10 frequent student New Year’s resolutions that tend to float around for the first odd weeks of each academic year.
1. I will do all of my readings. Not only that. I’ll do them ahead of the lecture.
Students really believe this, and the intention to actually sit down, read, and highlight each reading before every lecture and seminar is very genuine. Deep down, however, the desire to do anything else is stronger.
The first few readings always seem to go well, but soon you sit there skimming them before the lecture starts. A bit later you skim them after the lecture has already happened. And eventually, you don’t do them at all and sit there sweating in class, hoping not to be called out.
2. I will pace my assignments. No more panic. No more all-nighters.
Yes, this year, you will pace your assignments and be more productive. Each assignment will get a decent weekend’s time for thorough research and writing. But then, just when you think you have all the time in the world because all of your first essays are only due in a few weeks, the infamous all-nighter seems to have you clutched in it’s tight grip.
If three assignments have more or less the same due date, where do you think all the time for research and writing comes from? Well, not from all-nighters. With that being said, though, some students flop so hard at this resolution that they become masters of their own defective time management. They befriend sleep-deprivation, lack of synonyms, and inner frustration. One might almost say that someone who does this and still passes is somewhat of a magician.
3. I will keep my notes organised.
Some students actually manage to keep this one going for an impressive amount of time, filing each page into the right subject folder, and marking exactly what the date and topic for all the notes are.
But this skill tends to also evaporate as the year goes on. Soon, one page in your notepad contains not only notes from various subjects, but also the funny line your lecturer just dropped, and your weekend grocery shopping list.
4. I will not bunk. Not even once.
Many students do actually attend all their lectures throughout the year (they deserve a massive applause). In fact, bunking is kind of like a drug. If you’ve never tried it, you’ll never know how deliciously sinful it can feel, and therefore you won’t have the urge to do it. But once you’ve tried it, it’s hard to resist.
So when you tell yourself that for the New Year you won’t bunk, the only way it won’t flop is if you indeed don’t bunk at all. Bunking – not even once.
5. I will care about how I look for campus.
It’s a new year. You have fresh energy, fresh enthusiasm and basically just want to look amazing and put in mega effort every day. Girls start wearing mascara again, carefully fix a daily hairdo, and shave their legs more than once a week. Similarly, guys still nurture their facial hairs and spend more than 0.3 split seconds on choosing their outfit for the day.
I’d give it a good month until this too, starts to crumble.
6. I will learn how to cook and eat healthy.
By cook, I’m not talking about your mom’s awesome meals. Let’s not get carried away. But you tell yourself that from now on, you will at least use the stove or oven sometimes for a good stir-fry or baked potato. And doesn’t it taste delicious, that first healthy meal you cook for yourself? Of course it does. Which makes it even harder to understand why halfway through the year you are surviving on crackers with dip, and microwave food.
7. I will exercise more than I drink coffee.
Yep, another classic. You’ll get fit, exercise every day, get lean, detox from caffeine, and never, ever choose your bed over a run on a Sunday morning. And come that first Sunday when the plan flops, it’s not really your fault, because the sheets are too heavy for you to kick off, and the sun is actually quite harmful. You are safer in bed.
8. I will floss every day.
So this one is just… a terrible flaw that so many people are guilty of, it hardly needs elaboration. And the only time this resolution seems more unshakeable than at the beginning of every year is after you leave the oral hygienist’s practice.
9. I will be on top of my budget.
This is the year. You can feel it. You are going to start saving, and not spend a single Cent on anything you don’t strictly need. It’s time to create a budget plan and stick to it.
It seems to work okay at first, but damn, budgeting gets so tedious, and where is that receipt you put away, and what was the point again?
10. I will reject technology and stop wasting time.
That’s it. You spend far too much time locked into a screen – your phone, your computer, the lecture presentation, the TV, your tablet, video games – they are everywhere. Enough is enough. You will not touch your phone before bed anymore. You won’t play video games for more than 30mins at a time, and you absolutely won’t use instant messaging unless the content is important. And you will delete Facebook. Enough procrastination.
Hm, but that message could be important, so better check. It’s your favourite show – TV can be educational. How often do you and your friend get to play video games together? The essay is easy, so a bit of Facebook or 9gag doesn’t harm anyone. And so it begins, like in every other year, that technology has more presence in your life than you prefer – or even realise.
How to Break the Cycle
None of these resolutions are difficult to stick to once you manage to crack the vicious cycle. It is possible, I promise, because I’ve managed to actually stick to some of mine.
Relax, I said some, not all.
But so can you. Let’s see if you’ve got what it takes, and conquer at least one of the things you intend to change about your student habits.
Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to this, and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. But what is perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you absolutely can change your bad habits and behaviours – which mean you actually can succeed in sticking to your student life resolutions.