Welcome Back! 5 Tips for a Successful Academic Year

It’s that time of year again! The campus is buzzing with the excited anticipation that a new academic year brings. Whether you’re a first time college student, a returning student or a student heading on a pathway to graduate — here are five proven steps you can take to set yourself up for one of the best academic years ever.

  •  Set SMART Goals
    Commonly attributed to Peter Drucker's Management by Objectives concept, the SMART system helps you create clear and reachable goals.
    Specific (simple and significant)
    Measurable (meaningful and motivating)
    Achievable (attainable)
    Relevant (reasonable, realistic, and results-based)
    Time bound (time-based and time-sensitive)
    Make a list of specific, meaningful, and measurable goals for this academic year that you can reasonably achieve. Make your goals relevant to your long-term career plans.
    For example: “My goal is to achieve a merit grade overall this year”
    To make this happen:
    A. “I will block out 20 hours of study time every week
    B. Faithfully adhere to my schedule
    C. I will create a separate binder for each of my classes that I will fill with thorough and
    organized notes
    D. I will review these materials before submitting every assignment”
    Read your SMART goals every day to reinforce your commitment and hold yourself accountable for following through.
  •  Get Organized
    Find a weekly or monthly scheduling solution that works for you, whether it’s a digital app that helps you manage your class schedule, teacher contacts, and upcoming assignments or a poster-sized month-at-a-glance whiteboard or paper calendar. Input all the important assignment dates as you receive them into your tracking tool of choice. Putting everything you need to do on a daily basis in clear view helps you stay motivated and focused on your goals.
    3. Connect with Your lecturers
    Be proactive about introducing yourself to your new lecturers. Drop in during office hours to ask questions about the course and share your academic and career goals. A warm relationship with your lecturer goes a long way toward helping you be successful, not only in their courses but also down the road when you need a letter of recommendation after graduation a trainee ship or an internship.
    4. Take Advantage of School Resources
    In addition to familiarizing yourself with the free information available to you at the campus libraries, computer labs, tutoring and writing centers, be sure to attend any orientations your school offers for new students. Here at RIC, we devote several days to helping our new students feel welcome to fully
    acclimatize them into college life and to connect to our college community all part of the transition into college life.
    5. Prioritize Your Health
    Developing excellent self-care skills in college will help sustain you throughout your academic years and set a solid foundation on which you can build your future.
    – Nourish your body with healthy foods, even if it means scheduling time on your calendar for grocery shopping and cooking.
    – Carve out blocks of time for regular exercise. Not only does it help you maintain a healthy weight in college, exercise improves memory and focus and relieves stress.
    – As tempting as it will be to skimp on sleep, don’t do it. Research proves that young adults need at least 8 hours of nightly sleep for optimal functioning. Trying to catch up on the weekend by sleeping in till noon does not make up for a deficit.
    – Schedule “down time” in which you read, scripture, meditate, take a gratitude walk, or just sit in nature and reflect. This is just as important as studying and helps you stay balanced and centered so you don’t burn out or lose perspective.