The new academic year comes around so quickly and each year, we want to make it the best. Whether you are in school, college or university, the new year demonstrates a sense of opportunity. New classes, new topics and new goals. Though, at the same time, you may be apprehensive because of past experiences and mistakes. Perhaps you had bad experiences with friends or your grades were not where you wanted them to be. Maybe, this year you have to make choices for the future and the unknown is scary.
Being a student can be extremely stressful, something many adults and alumni of the student world can forget. The working world is also an ocean of difficulty but in a different way. As a student, you are not only trying to learn the topics and content for your exams, you are also trying to make big decisions for the future. Which subjects to continue? What careers to pursue? Where to continue your education? Should you continue education? On top of your own questions, some find they are constantly bombarded with the opinions and views of family and friends.
As the new school year begins, it is time to take a step back and think about how you can make this year the best yet. Not only that, how can you make it a year that will symbolise less stress and more success? The steps are actually quite simple but requires some deep thought.
What do you want to do this year?
By this question, I do not mean what grades do you want to achieve or what subjects you want to read. Rather, what do you want to have experienced by the end of the year. While studying, we often become so consumed by achieving good grades that we forget to live life. Literally. We miss out on the opportunities of exploring the world, trying new activities and finding new hobbies because we are too busy studying. An important component of achieving good grades is to have a balance between life inside and outside school. Not only does it refresh your mind and give you time away from books, it also creates memories that you will hold onto as the year progresses and stress takes over.
What are your goals?
This year, what do you want get from studying and being at school/college/university? Having goals gives you something to look towards. Do you have certain grades you want to achieve? Is there a certain topic you want to grasp well? Do you want to pick up a new subject, such as a language? Ask yourself – what will keep me driven this year? Set yourself goals for both your education and personal life. This goes back to point 1 – include a balanced approach to your goals because while you are a student you are also a person. Keep personal development on the goals list!
Develop a routine
Students who are organised and maintain a routine are much more likely to do well, without feeling stressed when exams hit. Have a diary to map out when you will study each topic. Give yourself plenty of time to grasp each topic and always test yourself. Slot in adequate breaks and (going back to point 1) make time to do things that are new, exciting and refreshing. This will help keep the routine one that is appealing, keeping you focused on the goals you have for the year.
As students, we are always thinking of career options. These can be influenced greatly by the opinion of family and friends, as well as teachers. Ultimately, you can never truly know if you like a job until you are living and breathing it. While this cannot always be the case when you are studying, gaining some work experience in a field can be eye opening. It can help you decide if this is the career path for you as well as opening up new doors for other experiences. Try to volunteer regularly in a position that will give you insight into a job or take a week or two to shadow somebody who is in a job that you would like.
If an assignment or exam does not go to plan, try not be disheartened. Turn this situation into a positive by reflecting on what went wrong. Did you not prepare enough? Did you give yourself adequate time to practise before hand? Did you ask anyone to help you? Often, in hindsight we can see where we could have done better. Use this to help you focus towards the next project or exam you have so the disappointment of one event sparks you to be better in the next round.
Above all, the best way to make this school year the best one you have had is to ask Allah to make it the best. Keep yourself focused by turning to Allah and asking for his assistance and forgiveness. Studies should be a struggle that pushes you to be closer to Allah, not further away from Him. While there will be days when the stress gets on top of you, make it a firm habit in your life to turn to Allah daily to help keep you on track with your goals and aspirations.