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Realistic resolutions for the new semester

New semester, new goals. But before you build your own plans as high as the clouds, it’s better to concentrate on what’s achievable, says our columnist. And he has a few suggestions.
At the beginning of the new semester, students like to plan a lot. Too much, if you ask me as a student advisor. Resolutions like “I won’t miss a single lecture” or “I will study for four hours every day” initially sound sensible and ambitious. But such huge projects usually don’t last long.

The experience shows: After just a few weeks or even days, students give up their new habits. Not because they are lazy or incompetent, but because they take on too much at once. Their resolutions are too bulky and therefore have little chance of survival in the chaotic everyday university life.

Plan your day in advance

Make it a habit to plan each day in advance. Not in detail, just roughly: What times are your lectures? When do you meet with your study group? What other dates are coming up? In this way, you create a clear foundation that you can use as a guide. Five minutes in the morning or evening before are enough for such planning. Speaking of five minutes…

Study for five minutes every day

You don’t have to plan to study for several hours every day – five minutes is enough. Why? Because you reduce the entry hurdle so much that you hardly have to muster any motivation. You can definitely manage five minutes. And if you absolutely don’t feel like it anymore, just stop and you’ve reached your daily goal. The trick, however, is that you’re unlikely to give up after five minutes. But think to yourself: “Now I’ve gotten over myself and started, then I can carry on.”

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Make it relevant to application

Many students quickly lose interest in learning because they don’t know why they should bother with the boring lecture material. Therefore, make sure that you have a general idea of what the content is good for in each subject. Ask your lecturer what the practical use of the model is, or ask your professor for an application example for the theory just presented. Alternatively, you can do your own research (Google et al.).

Read a text in English

Lectures are increasingly being held in English at German universities. And you will have to work with English-language sources at the latest as part of your bachelor’s or master’s thesis. So get used to the global scientific language now and read texts in English regularly. It doesn’t necessarily have to be papers from your subject area – entertainment literature, English newspaper articles or the international offerings from German media companies are ideal for building a new English routine.

Expand your network

Nothing shapes a person more than their closest social contacts. And it is precisely at this point that you can take a decisive developmental step in your new semester. Resolve to continually expand your network and look for new acquaintances. Talk to new fellow students, look for new learning partners or network with like-minded people via career networks such as LinkedIn or XING.

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Set aside time for reflection

When stress increases during the semester, many students throw their new behavior patterns overboard and switch to autopilot. They then walk into the lecture like a zombie and stupidly memorize flashcards again. Smart, reflective behavior is over. To prevent this from happening to you, you should set aside a small, fixed amount of time each day to think. During this time, ask yourself: How are my studies going right now? What can I do to improve my situation? What should I do differently? Such a small time investment is valuable for your personal development. A few minutes are enough.

picture shows note with goals

Good luck in the new semester!

At the start of the semester, you can see many students in a very tense state. They set high goals for themselves and want to prove to others (and especially to themselves) how strong and capable they are. In general, there is nothing against high goals – but if you overdo it, you’re just blocking yourself. Instead, set small, realistic goals and work your way forward step by step. You don’t have to get an A on every exam; it’s enough if you make a plan, study regularly and go through your studies with your eyes open. If you want to surpass yourself in the new semester, you shouldn’t take on too much. It’s better to do just a little bit – but every day.

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