How to Stay on Track With Your New Year's Resolution to Earn a Degree


Your decision to earn your degree is one of the most impactful New Year's resolutions you can make. If you're concerned about the challenges you'll face in the months and years ahead, read on to see how you can keep on track through careful planning, motivation, and creative thinking.

Resolve to Succeed

Are you an atypical college student? If you're a little older— remember that you're never too old to go back to school. If you've taken a more circuitous route than most to reach those ivy-covered halls, you can get back in the swing of being a student by using these suggestions to keep you focused, motivated, and on track to graduation.

Make Realistic Plans

With work and family responsibilities, you won't have the same kind of time and energy to devote to your studies as a traditional, full-time student. That's why you need to have a realistic idea of how many courses you can take on. If you can only take one course per semester due to work and family obligations, don't sweat it! Each course you complete brings you one step closer to your goal.

Planning tools, such as calendars and agendas, can help you achieve your New Year

By no means should you feel discouraged. Instead, plan ahead to avoid or overcome obstacles. If you're new to distance learning, for example, make sure you familiarize yourself with the conventions of the online classroom. Set study goals for yourself, so you can make the most efficient use of your time and keep up with your classes.

Visualize Your Success

Given the right motivation, your determination should be enough to get you through any challenging coursework that might come up. So make it a point to focus on what will happen when you keep your New Year's resolution by:

  • Picturing your diploma with your name emblazoned on it, the fancy calligraphy on the parchment testifying to your strength of will and your tenacity.
  • Deciding how you'll celebrate with your loved ones on graduation day.
  • Thinking about the opportunities that will open up for you once you've earned your degree.

Write down the details of how your degree will affect your life and make a habit of reviewing your goals daily. This will make them more real to you, inspiring you to be relentless when it comes to pursuing your degree.

Your studies are just one component of earning your degree; set goals to help you find your motivation.l

That said, motivation involves more than just visualizing unbridled success. Like Ebenezer Scrooge reckoning with the Ghost of Christmas Future, your desire to avoid failure can keep you on track to graduation.

If college is a long-deferred dream, remind yourself how you'll feel if you don't make it come true. While no one wants to dwell on the negatives, success can be spurred on as much by what we wish to avoid as what we wish to gain.

Involve Family and Friends

Most likely, your loved ones are very proud of your academic efforts and want to help you—if only you tell them how. So enlist the help of your ''home team'' when it comes to boosting your morale and supporting you as you earn your degree.

For example, your spouse could watch the children while you study. Or, maybe your son or daughter could do extra household chores to lighten your load. Additionally, consider having your little ones accompany you on adventures to the library. As long as they're old enough to respect the quiet venue, you can even appoint them as junior research assistants!

Your family can help you get your degree, like this young research assistant accompanying you to the library.

Keep in mind that your family dynamics may change when you add your coursework to the mix. However, the same coping techniques you use to maintain work-life balance can help you and your family deal with the changes.

Tailor Learning Options

There are more ways to learn than just poring over textbooks or memorizing your lecture notes - so find learning opportunities that are tailored to your learning style. For instance, video lessons may be more engaging to you than written materials.

Take advantage of nontraditional resources, like online college courses, to give you more scheduling flexibility. And consider using tools like calendar apps and online task managers to help you better manage your time and attain your goal.

The more obstacles you avoid, such as a commute to a college campus after a long day at work, the greater the likelihood that you'll succeed.

Careful planning and tailoring learning opportunities can help you keep your New Year's extensive library of online courses can help you keep your New Year's resolution. You can learn at your own pace, whenever it's convenient for you. With college credits transferrable to over 1,500 institutions of higher learning, you'll be closer than ever to getting your degree!

By Michelle Baumgartner
December 2018
college motivation

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