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New Year’s Resolutions to Resolve College Problems

It's surprising how many “problems” can be better categorized as inconveniences with very doable solutions.

Kristen Lemaster

January 08, 2013

New Year’s Resolutions to Resolve College Problems
The hashtag #collegeproblems is probably one of the most popular on Twitter, and it is definitely common among my classmates. Anything from professors with nearly incomprehensible accents to complaints about community bathrooms is fair game for tweeting, but I am always surprised by how many “problems” can be better categorized as inconveniences with very doable solutions. Even more surprising is how many of these issues might be alleviated by some simple goals set in January and faithfully carried out through the semester – like New Year’s resolutions that actually stick. Sleep can be very difficult to come by in college, as evidenced by the multitude of confessions on social media that the nights are long, the mornings are hard, and the afternoons are good only if you can squeeze in a nap. How do you let yourself get more rest when the only time you feel genuinely tired is when you are supposed to be wide awake?

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I think being unwilling to wake up in the morning is a symptom, not a problem. The only way to fix it is to address the cause: going to sleep too late. We can train our minds and bodies to know when it is time to go to bed, but it might take a little rearranging in our schedules. Lights from the computer and television can trick your brain into thinking it is not time to sleep yet, but if you stay away from these devices for just a couple hours before bed, you can help make yourself feel sleepy earlier. You can also reinforce the message by setting a nightly routine and staying physically out of bed until you turn in for the night. Mornings can be hectic for reasons other than sleep deprivation, though. You may find yourself scrambling to print out a paper or trying on four different outfits before deciding on the right one. Both of these issues may make it appear that time is the problem, but I think procrastination is really what needs to be addressed.

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It is not likely that you can change your procrastinating ways overnight, but you can take steps to make sure you aren't putting off the little things that only cause extra stress. If you can plan your clothes for tomorrow the night before, you can save yourself a lot of frustration and worrying. If you print out your paper in advance, you can skip the nagging fears that might prevent you from falling asleep early. These tasks and many others, like locating your room keys, deciding what you’ll have for breakfast, and packing your book bag, can be made part of your nightly routine, which takes the chaos out of the morning. Breakfast brings up the issue of food, which is a different story, but at its most basic level, you should resolve to eat healthily enough that you don’t get sick often. Germs can spread on a college campus like wildfire, but if you've made sure to get the right vitamins and enough protein, you will be better protected. Milk and orange juice are two lifesavers when it comes to warding off illness, and luckily they are common in both dining halls and vending machines. Catching a virus or even the flu is obviously detrimental to your health, but they can be damaging to your grades, too. Low GPA is another frequent concern for college students, and with good reason, because many classes are tough and require hard work and diligent studying. Professors are there to help, though, and too often they get passed over as a valuable resource. Try making a point to get to know one professor really well each semester – bonus points if he or she teaches in your major so you can return to them later if you need help, career advice or, better yet, a letter of recommendation for a scholarship.

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These resolutions may not be the typical ambitious goals of the New Year, like running a mile every day, going vegan or reading a certain number of books, but the truth is that they don’t have to be. Small, simple resolutions can be effective in achieving big changes, which I think is in line with the one overarching lesson college teaches us: a lot can be done with a little.

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