They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. In a mere three weeks, we simple humans can repeat a routine to the point of habituation—the most effortless form of behavior. But you can’t build a habit without first making a resolution. So here’s where it all starts: for the upcoming year of college, we’ve put together a list of nine back-to-school resolutions to get you started on your own list of to-dos. Seriously—follow our advice and your upcoming school year will be made in the shade. We can’t promise a date with Ryan Gosling by the end of September (especially now that he's going to be a dad), but we can promise you you’ll be handling a day planner like a champ.
Part 1: The Academic
1. Get to know your professors beyond introductions
Isn’t it remarkable that you spend upwards of five hours a week with each of your professors—more than some of your best friends—and yet all you know about them is their last name, preferred facial hair growth, and apparent preference for Diet Coke over the regular kind?
Building real relationships (please just not the romantic variant) with your professors starts with simply introducing yourself to them privately within the first couple days of class. From there, attend their office hours, ask questions in class, show up at their public lectures—display an interest in their work, and they’ll probably return the interest in your development as their student. Think of the research opportunities! Think about how much more inclined they’ll be to grant you that extension! Think, collegiettes, of how much more likely they’ll be to excuse that week-long absence when you were in Cabo in bed, sick with pneumonia.
2. Start keeping a day planner
As the saying goes: “The faintest ink is better than the best memory.” A day planner is the proverbial string around your finger, except a thousand times more effective than tying a string around your finger (seriously, who thought that was effective? What do you do if you can’t remember why there’s string around your finger? What if you can’t tie a knot with one hand? So many questions).
Mostly you just need a day planner so that you can be all, “One moment, darling. Let me just check my schedule,” the next time somebody asks you out. You can’t just go about frivolously accepting every coffee date and brunch engagement you’re invited to--you’re very in-demand, you know. Buy a planner and start acting like it.
3. Make at least two friends in each of your classes
Here’s the thing: you need to stop being a loner in your classes, and you need to stop now. Loner is one little letter away from loser, and you are not that. Why did we stop making friends with everyone in our classes? Seriously—in second grade, you invited your entire class to your Backstreet Boy B-day Bash and it remains the wildest rager you’ve ever thrown. Why did those days have to end? Befriend a few people in each of your classes, and you won’t only be covered on things like missed notes, you can also have study parties, which is invariably the best way to study: in party format.
Oh, and let’s not forget the opportunity for commiseration. When you think you’re screwed for an upcoming final, nothing quite pacifies you like a quick call to a friend in your class to hear that she’s totally not prepared either (is that bad?).
4. Actually show up for morning lecture
We know all your excuses, and we don’t care. You were up late partying. You can just get the notes later from a friend. You don’t learn anything in this lecture anyway. An extra hour of sleep would just be so much more beneficial. Please—your attempts at reasoning away your morning lecture are more tired than you are.
Sure, you’re exhausted, but by skipping out on morning lecture, you’re only creating more work for yourself later, whether it be listening to a recording of the professor, thus adding taking notes to your workload, or scrambling at the last minute before an exam to make up that day’s material, which you just never got around to catching up on. Get up! Greet the day! (Grab some coffee!)
5. Get excited about learning!
A good education at a North American university is something we should be incredibly grateful for, not consider a task to be checked off on the to-do list of young adulthood. It sounds clichéd, but if you look for the excitement in learning, you’ll probably find it (buried under a few textbooks, probably, but it’s there). It’s all about perspective, and a fresh outlook on your studies will help you become reinvigorated by what you’re doing, not just its necessary role in carrying you to graduation.
Field trips didn’t have to go down with high school. Take your own trips outside the classroom to places relevant to your field. If you’re in an art history class, keep tabs on touring exhibitions and take a road trip to see one. If you’re in a law class, visit the court room and observe cases for an afternoon. A college education is a privilege; try not to forget that.
Part 2: The Social
6. Find a haunt
Hemingway had Les Deux Magots, Warhol had Studio 54. If you’re going to really be someone, you have to find yourself a haunt and frequent it more than you should. Go somewhere so often the employees know you by name—middle name, even. Spend so much time there that years from now when you tell stories about “the college days” or come back to your college town for a brief visit over a long weekend, you’ll refer to that place as your old “stomping ground” and wax poetic about this one incredible time you had there with that group of friends that one night November of junior year.
7. Revamp your nightlife
You know that corny magnet on your fridge that’s all, “Never settle for the ordinary!”? Actually start listening to it. Don’t settle for a mediocre social life. Just don’t do it. Mediocre social lives are for mediocre people, and you are most certainly not one. We’re not saying you should go on a bender every weekend and wake up Monday morning on a park bench suspiciously devoid of shoes and all remaining dignity (if you’re going to have a fabulous social life, it’s important you remember it the day after). What we are saying is that we get it: girl is busy. But girl is never too busy for a little socializing here and there, so make it count, even if it’s a simple, quiet night in with board games and a close group of friends. There’s no excuse for a boring evening. Make a night of making your night better than ordinary, whatever that means to you.
8. Join/Start a club
Clubs just aren’t what they used to be. It used to be that a collegiette had little variety to choose from when it came to school clubs, and hovering above membership seemed to stand the perpetual threat of the hazing paddle, which could shock even the most lionhearted out of taking a chance on Horticultural Society. But that was then. No one’s hazing you these days for dropping into a weeknight meeting of the Wine-tasting Society, or Gamers’ Guild. And if your college truly doesn’t have the club you desire—Harry Potter Fan Fiction Writers, huh?—start it yourself!
Part 3: The Domestic
9. Feng shui your room
Feng shui is the promotion of positive energy within a space through adherence to a spiritual set of spatial considerations. More simply, arranging and maintaining your room in accordance with feng shui principles will keep you calm, and calm is good—just ask the thousand-plus people you know with a “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster hung in their room. They would agree.
So where do you begin? Start with bringing a little life into your room with a potted flower. Open your windows. Order things in pairs, which feng shui states appeals to the human yearning for order and unity. Decorate your walls with inspiring images so your dreams are reinforced visually everywhere you look. Most of all, keep your room clean to preserve the chi. A cluttered room makes for a cluttered mind, and you cannot afford to let it get messy up in there.
When you form a resolution you make the decision to render that thing real and concrete and more than a fleeting idea of something you might do at some point, sometime, when you’re done Instagramming that pic of your boat shoes. Heading back to school is a new start unlike any other, and the next great opportunity for a renewed you—specifically, you-as-student, a variation of yourself which could admittedly use a little resolve every now and again.