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A Guide to Setting & Keeping New Year’s Resolutions for Students

by South University
December 31, 2018
A photo of two South University physical therapist assistant students.

The start of a new year signals a time to reflect and reset, to decide what new goals to pursue and where to focus your energy. If the idea of growth and development resonates with you right now in your academic, professional, or personal life, creating a new year’s resolution list can help to set you up for success.

Planning Your New Year’s Resolution List

For starters, you can pick either a few goals to stay focused on throughout the year or decide to select one aspect of your life to work on each month. Once you know your new year goals, begin by honestly assessing where you are today. Then set a specific, measurable goal for how much you want to improve and by when, listing the steps you need to take to get there.

To make sure you take action, set reminders to check in with your progress regularly, perhaps once a week. Ask yourself what’s working, what’s not, and what you should change. If you’re not meeting your goals, keep trying different strategies until you do.

Example New Year’s Resolution Ideas

A photo of South University students at their commencement ceremony.

To help you get started, here are a few smart goal examples for students to consider as you brainstorm new year’s resolution ideas.

  1. Complete your assignments early.
    Aiming to complete your projects and assignments at least one day early is one of the smartest academic goals you can set. When you stop procrastinating, you can reduce the stress of finishing projects at the final hour and gain an extra day to resolve any unexpected last-minute issues.

  2. Build your community of support.
    As a student, there will be times when you need encouragement or advice, so it’s good to not only stay close with current friends and family but also try to meet new people, like classmates or colleagues you haven’t talked with. Being social can be the perfect mental break when you need time away from schoolwork. By connecting with colleagues, classmates, and faculty, you’ll have people you can turn to for professional advice as well.

    If this makes your new year’s resolution list, remember to choose specific actionable goals, such as calling your sibling weekly or attending 3 social events per month. If your goal is vague, it’s too easy to not do it.

  3. Join school, community, or professional organizations.
    This new year’s resolution can help you build your network and get out of your comfort zone. By joining an organization, you could try something new, contribute to your community or professional field, and pick up new skills. Pursue this goal by breaking it down into steps—researching organizations, joining, attending, etc.—so that you follow through and stay involved.

  4. Stay focused while you work.
    Learning to stay on task is a big part of time management. To achieve this, find tools and techniques that help you stay focused, like a browser add-on or mobile app that blocks social media sites during set hours or following the Pomodoro technique to do your schoolwork (and only your school work) for set amounts of time. Again, if you choose this as a new year’s resolution, be sure to set measurable goals and track your improvements.

  5. Make healthy eating choices.
    Anyone with a full schedule knows how easy it is to fall into unhealthy eating habits. However, with a little planning, you can eat healthier. Healthy eating starts with smart grocery shopping as well as planning your meals and snacks. When setting health goals, name specific food to eat less of or stop buying. You don’t have to cut out sweets or fast food, but you can set limits for yourself.

  6. Prioritize physical activity.
    Adding more physical activity to your routine can actually increase your energy for your busy days. For the sake of measurement, include a desired number of workouts or a total movement time per week in your physical fitness new year goals. With some physical activity, you can also set goals for speed or reps.

  7. Get more sleep.
    How much sleep do you get on an average night? Do you have a regular sleep routine? Do you stay up late and then wake up early to finish your work? To achieve your goals for school, you need to approach each day with a fresh mind. That starts with a full night’s sleep. Remember you don’t have to get there right away. Instead, work up to 7 or 8 hours. Begin by removing habits that might be making it harder to fall asleep or causing you to wake up in the night.

Help with Achieving Your Academic Goals

If you need guidance or support on creating a plan to achieve your academic goals, ask your academic advisor for assistance. They can help with items on your new year’s resolution list that include goals like to stop procrastinating, earn higher grades, and improve your time management skills, to name a few. Our faculty and staff are here to help you with making 2019 your best year yet!

by South University
December 31, 2018
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Practical Study Tips for College Students from South University Faculty & Staff

by South University
September 7, 2018
A photo of South University medical assisting student studying at a computer.

When you start classes, it’s normal to be nervous about how to study for a test or fit coursework into your daily life. Whether you’ve been out of school for years or you’re just unsure about beginning a new program, we’re here for you. To help you build good study habits, we’ve compiled our favorite study tips for college classes provided by South University faculty and staff, including:

  • Mark Fabbri, PhD, Online Programs, Psychology Chair
  • Alexandra Young, Academic Manager
  • Rachel Mitchell, MLIS, Director of Online Library Services

A photo of South University, Online Programs student studying at a computer. 1. Carve out time for studying in your day.

Mark Fabbri, our Online Programs Psychology Chair explains, "Finding time can be the greatest challenge to studying. We all have busy lives and sometimes putting studying on top of the list is difficult."

To address this problem, use a journal to track how you spend your day, noting when you’re doing something valuable versus simply passing time—but don’t count all down time as wasted. For example, Fabbri prioritizes playing Minecraft in the evenings because it’s his way to relax.

"I also have a grandchild to watch, parents to care for, my daughter's new novel to proofread, and I need to somewhere find the time to work and exercise," says Fabbri, who is currently working on adding another degree to his extensive credentials. "By looking at what I do daily, I was able to block out 1 to 2 hours a day to read and study early in the morning when I first get up. That also seems to be when I am most alert for studying. Everyone is different, but the key is finding the best time to study for your own schedule."

2. Be smart about the places you study.

Fabbri asserts that where you study is equally as important as when. "Removing distractions so you can focus on reading your text or articles needs to be a priority," he says.

Don't study in front of the TV or somewhere your children or housemates will distract you. Quiet libraries are often among the best places to study, as are coffee shops. If you study at home, play white noise or classical music (some of the best music for studying) to drown out distracting noises.

3. Make your study habits routine.

"Consistency is critical to success," says Alexandra Young, an Academic Manager at South University. "Do your school work at the same time and in the same place every day to start forming good study habits."

To stay on track, set regular reminders through South University"s online learning platform Brightspace or mark time off for repeat tasks on a physical calendar or agenda. Just remember—creating a routine isn’t easy. If you slip up, don’t feel guilty. Recommit to your routine the very next day. “It can take months for good study habits to stick," Young says.

A photo of South University, Online Programs student studying at a computer. 4. Study in short bursts.

Cramming in all your studying at once is not effective. "You will learn the material for your assignment then forget it,” says Young. It’s also not the best way to study for a test, as you might forget what you studied by the time the test is in front of you.

Young advises studying for 20 to 30 minutes at a time and then taking a 5-minute break, repeating this process 1 to 2 hours a day. "Set a timer for studying. Stay focused and don’t check your phone. If you struggle with getting distracted, use software or apps to block extraneous websites for set times," says Young. "During your break, stand up, walk away, and give your mind a chance to rest."

5. Plan ahead and start early.

Planning ahead leaves room for surprises, says Director of Online Library Services, Rachel Mitchell. "Waiting until the last minute depletes any margin you might need due to technical issues or unexpected circumstances," she says. "It's possible you'll need clarification on an assignment or reading. When you procrastinate, there's no time left to hear back from an instructor, colleague, or tutor."

Mitchell suggests noting important course dates in your calendar and setting deadlines for yourself ahead of those dates to give yourself that extra wiggle room. She also likes psychologist Tamar Chansky's recommendation to "set up the launch pad and walk away." The idea is that if you set yourself up for a task beforehand, you're less likely to procrastinate later. "Before your study session, get out your computer, pen, paper, whatever you need," says Mitchell. "Take a quick break and then come back to everything all set up and ready to go."

6. Ask for help.

Admitting you don't know something can feel intimidating, but South University makes so many resources available to you--including tutoring, the library, instructors, and writing centers.

"As soon as you have a question, reach out! Asking saves you time and energy," says Mitchell.

"If you’re unsure about an assignment, contact your instructor right away. Anytime you need help with research, citations, or finding information on a topic, contact the library. We are here to help!"

Young agrees, adding that Admissions Representatives and Academic Counselors can also help with questions about how to study in college. "If your graduation team knows your concerns, they will be better equipped to point you in the right direction."

Get moving on your academic success!

Students can find contact information in the Campus Common for their Admissions and Academic support teams, instructors, campus or online libraries, and other resources that can help you build your college study skills.

If you’re interested in learning about South University and our programs, request information or call 1.888.444.3404 today!

by South University
September 7, 2018
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Faculty Tips for Reducing Stress as a Student

by South University
April 11, 2018

Often, we think of individual events or issues as the cause of our stress. The stress of completing our coursework, paying a bill, or a problem at work is seen as unique. In reality, stress can be cumulative, crossing over from your job to your personal life and even to your classes. In this blog, we'll look closely at cumulative stress and explore several techniques you can use for managing stress.

What is Cumulative Stress?

Stress is the body's response to any demand made on it, and light stress—when you believe that you can cope with the demands you currently face—can actually be motivating and energizing.

However, as various causes of stress start adding up, the total cumulative stress you feel increases. Such causes might include:

  • Deadlines and commitments (like assignment due dates)
  • Financial problems
  • Relationship troubles
  • Health problems
  • Work problems

So, what happens when cumulative stress is left unchecked and the stressors in your life remain? While we may hope to let stress roll off our backs, it's more likely you're piling on the stress and carrying it everywhere you go. Over time, cumulative stress can lead to health and psychological problems such as:

  • Headaches
  • Indigestion/nausea
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Poor judgement and memory problems
  • Nervousness/anxiousness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem

Tips for Managing Stress

Now for the good news: stress can be managed. Beginning right now, here's what you can do to significantly reduce your cumulative stress.

  1. Be healthy: Start by looking at your daily life. Track how much physical activity you get, what you eat, and how much you drink alcohol or smoke. Most of us speed through the day so fast that we don’t realize what our day actually includes. After taking a good look at ourselves, we can see how to become healthier. It could be as simple as eating more vegetables or a bowl of oatmeal in the morning. Even a daily walk will help.
  2. Have fun: Laughing is good for you, so find time to have fun and to laugh. It's also important to stay positive. Finding the good in the world, even when faced with significant challenges, will lead to reduced stress.
  3. Relax: To relax and reset, you need to take breaks, not just from work but also in your personal life and your school work. We don’t mean a 6-month vacation, just a few breaks during the day, where you leave behind life's problems for a time, possibly by doing one of the following:
    • Read a book (other than your text). There is nothing like diving into a good mystery, fantasy, or romance novel—or even your favorite magazine—to separate you from daily stress.
    • Play a game. (Remember, there is a difference between taking a break and procrastinating, so don’t use your breaks as a way to delay work.)
    • Exercise. Take a short walk, stretch, or do light aerobic exercises to revitalize your body. During the exercise, let your mind think about things other than what is causing your stress.
  4. Use your time wisely. Everyone talks about time management as if it's some complicated process that only high-priced consultants can figure out. That's simply not true. Start by keeping a journal for a few days on what you do throughout the day. You’ll be amazed how much time is spent on things like looking for clothes in the morning, finding the kids' library book, or playing your favorite video game.

    From there, find ways to streamline or cut back on things that take too much time. An hourly schedule might not be needed, but a calendar of daily chores or appointments could likely help you organize your time at home and work. Within your schedule, prioritize your coursework by putting aside time, not just for the assignments, but also to study and complete your readings.

The More You Know...

Improving your ability to deal with stress and knowing that stress be carried from one environment to another (i.e. job to home) may have a long-term impact on improving your resilience and your health. If, before or after trying these tips, you'd like to talk with someone about your stress, contact your Academic Counselor or Student Affairs to ask about the resources available through the South University Counseling Center.

About the Author

Mark Fabbri Ph.D. is the Chair for Psychology Online at South University. Dr. Fabbri has been teaching for South University since 2006 and lives in Michigan.

by South University
April 11, 2018
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Going Back to School as an Adult - Overcoming Your Fears

by South University
April 9, 2018

Earning a degree is no doubt different for adult learners than for those fresh out of high school, but being an adult learner has it positives. At a younger age, maybe you were less confident about what you wanted or had to delay degree completion for personal reasons. Now, you’re at a different time in your life with more defined career goals, life skills and experience—all things that will come in handy in as you pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree.

If you are looking start or finish your degree but have fears about going back to school, know that it is possible to achieve your academic goals. Below, we compare four common concerns of potential students to the realities of going back to school as an adult learner.

Myth #1: You Don’t Have Room in Your Schedule

Balancing a job, family, friends, and school won't be easy, but many before you have a found a way. With the right amount of planning, you can too. When talking with school representatives, ask how many hours you can expect to spend in class and doing class work. Then, create a plan for how to divide your time each day. Simply knowing you have a plan can go a long way.

Beyond this plan, you'll need support from those around you. Before you start classes, let your family know that they'll have to pitch in a little more while you’re in school. Then, talk with your friends about why you’re continuing your education and how much this means to you, so that they can offer emotional support and will understand if you miss the occasional get-together.

If earning your undergraduate or graduate degree could enhance your current career, share your plans with your boss. Hopefully, they’ll offer encouragement and maybe flexibility in your work schedule. (Plus, there's always the possibility of tuition assistance.) During classes, one way to save time is by relating your schoolwork to your job where possible. For example, for a class assignment, you might choose to create a business proposal that could be reused for your job.

Myth #2: You've Been Out of School Too Long

In reality, your life and work experience will likely benefit you as a student. Instructors appreciate adult learners who ask informed questions and bring real-world examples to class discussions. Besides that, if you've participated in continuing education courses, learned new software, or had to prepare for presentations at work, then you’ve already been using many of the same skills you’ll need in school.

Today, nontraditional students are becoming the norm and schools often design undergraduate and graduate degree programs with adult learners in mind. As you research schools, ask how many adult learners are currently enrolled. See if they offer an orientation class to ease you into the swing of things or provide support staff who will be readily available to answer your questions. Once you’re in school, get to know other adult learners; you can swap study and scheduling tips, and make valuable contacts for after you graduate.

Myth #3: You’re Not Skilled Enough with Computers or New Technology

Orientation classes can help you get up to speed on the software you’ll need, and schools commonly offer software tutorials, tutoring, and webinars for those who want extra training. Even in online programs, these days, online classrooms are designed with ease of use as a key goal for everyone, regardless of technological expertise. So many careers require computer skills today anyway, so, while it might sound stressful, brushing up on your tech knowledge will be good for you.

Myth #4: You Won’t be Able to Manage the Cost of Your Education

An important aspect of returning to school is knowing what return on investment to expect from your program. Tools like the government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook can offer helpful details about the value of education in specific fields. Beyond this, try finding programmatic alumni stories and talking to your manager and others in the field to understand how a degree might help you.

If you’re worried about the cost of degree completion, make sure you explore all options—including federal financial aid, employer tuition assistance, military benefits, and scholarships from private and public organizations. By transferring credit from past college experience, you may be able to save time and money. As you narrow in on your top schools, take the time to talk to their finance counselors about transferring credit and other options for making a degree program more affordable.

Moving Forward with Confidence

Remember, age can play in your favor when going back to school. Life and work experience often teach lessons and skills that young students rarely possess, things like time management and not being afraid to seek help when it’s needed. As an adult, you’re likely more organized, responsible, and motivated to get your degree.

Along with offering a full array of academic resources and dedicated support staff for every student, South University's campus and online programs are designed to accommodate the schedules of busy, working adults. To learn more about how we support adult learners across all undergraduate and graduate degree programs, contact us today.

Note: This blog was originally published October 6, 2016 and updated April 9, 2018.

by South University
April 9, 2018
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How to Enjoy the Holidays and Still Get Everything Done

by South University, Online Programs
December 18, 2014

Throughout the holidays, many students find it difficult to juggle their education and family obligations while still leaving time for much-needed time for rest and relaxation. As a result, writing papers, completing assignments or reading ahead can be an unwelcome source of stress or anxiety.

While there is no precise formula to determine what balance is right for you, being a student doesn’t mean you have to give up quality time with your loved ones during the holidays.

Relaxing during holidays

4 Keys to Success

When it comes to dividing time between work and play, here are some simple steps that you can take to have a memorable and productive holiday season.

Time management. It may sound cliché, but no one is more responsible for how you spend your time over the holidays than you are. Plan ahead, set realistic goals, prepare for the unexpected, and schedule time for the things that are important to you. For example, if it works with your schedule, study in the mornings and then bake, wrap, build snowmen with the kids, and watch holiday classics in the afternoons or evenings.

Push forward and avoid falling behind. Don’t let your schoolwork pile up over the holidays. Breakdown assignments into manageable segments. Try working for a set amount of time at the same time every day. Making schoolwork part of your regular routine gives your family a good sense of when you’ll be available for fun, festive activities.

Have a positive outlook. Try to think of coursework as time you are investing in for yourself, your future and the good of your family.

Include your family in your study routine. Encourage family members to quiz you with flashcards, post a calendar of your reading list or study schedule in a visible place (i.e. on the fridge), share what you’re learning or challenges you encounter, and communicate goals, objectives, and accomplishments.

6 Tips for Surviving the Holidays

We all know that the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. When you start feeling overwhelmed, here are 6 ways to stay motivated, focused, calm, and balanced.

1. Take a deep breath.
2. Be present in the moment.
3. Exercise your mind and body.
4. Be grateful for what you have.
5. Volunteer—give the gift of time.
6. Recognize that others can be stressed too. Have patience. Smile. Forgive.

In a Nutshell

Although education is a stepping stone to enrichment, creative partnerships, and professional opportunities, studying for a new career involves a lot of time, effort, and preparation. Over the holidays, your schoolwork doesn’t need to consume or define you, but it should be something you make time for and take pride in!

“Enjoy the journey. This is not a dress rehearsal.” ~ John Savage

by South University, Online Programs
December 18, 2014
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