New Years? In late August? I’m sure that wherever you live, ‘Back-to-School’ sales and advertisements have found their way to the billboards near your neighborhood mall and on to your favorite radio station. They all point to the fact that summer is drawing to a close, yet again, and it’s back to the regular school routine as the new school year quickly dawns upon us.
To thrive this school year, here is a sneak peek at my Academic New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Consistent Improvement
Merriam-Webster defines “improvement” as “the act or process of making something better or the quality of being better than before.” The competition isn’t against smarter people in your class, it’s about striving to beat your yesterday (or last semester) self. As cliché as this may sound, it’s about being the best you can be, as God defines it for you specifically.
Obviously, improvement, whether academic or spiritual, can only be achieved with God’s help. Relying solely on our own wit and intelligence won’t get us half as far.
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, –Colossians 3:23
Whatever work God has given us, we should do it wholeheartedly and to the best of our abilities for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). God’s glory should be our motive.
And then there is the crucial word: “consistent.” Again, the trusty Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “of the same quality; especially: good each time.” This is absolutely necessary because it’s of no benefit if all this improvement is just a one-time thing. Long-term improvement occurs as we develop good, effective, and productive habits. For example, experiment and find out what studying techniques work for you, stick to them, and be persistent. This might seem like a daunting task, but it’s not about what we can’t do, but what God can. Rely on Him.
2. More Extra-Curriculars
Academics are good, but they can quickly steal your time and drain your energy. If we are not self-controlled, we can turn what was meant to be a good thing into a type of idol.
So, I find it absolutely necessary to balance out my life with extra-curricular activities. For example:
- Join a team – debate, sports, choir
- Exercise regularly
- Meet up with other believers for fellowship – a cozy living room or dorm room works just as nicely as a coffee shop
- Rest with a good book
- Volunteer for a local charity or ministry
- Spend time outdoors
But don’t bite off more than you can chew. Otherwise you risk burning yourself out and consequently being tired and unable to give 100 percent to any of your activities or keep up with your spiritual disciplines. Kevin DeYoung said it best: “Busyness kills more Christians than bullets.” So, pick a few core commitments, and do those obediently for the glory of God.
3. Deeper Friendships
The fast-paced nature of college life can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to do it alone. We were created to enjoy community and fellowship with other human beings.
Take the time these first few weeks to look carefully through the hallways and around the lecture halls to notice any faces that you could serve as a good friend to.
In our world, it easy to say we have hundreds of Facebook friends or thousands of Instagram followers. But how many of us can genuinely say we have a handful of good, reliable friends we can count on and vice versa.
Life-long friendships aren’t going to happen if our friendships are shallow. That being said, the most suitable candidates for deep and meaningful friendships are other like-minded Christians who will continually point you to Christ. Of course, that is not to say that we should live in a bubble with no contact with the outside secular world. The school campus is our mission field after all. The idea is that you’re better off with Christians playing the role of the ‘BFFs’ in your inner circle. Consider the example of Jesus. He, no doubt, interacted with unbelievers and social outcasts but he kept his inner circle tight (Matthew 17:1).
Join the conversation in the comments below.
Will you go in prayer and consider making your own list for the coming school year? If so, what is on your goal list?