New Year's has passed and college students are back at school. With homework assignments and looming tests, club meetings, and sports seasons, you may have lost track of the resolutions you pledged before the semester swept into full swing.
[Follow three steps toward college resolutions.]
But while college students might be busy, they also have a leg up on the rest of the population when it comes to meeting resolutions: access to free campus resources. Your school likely offers myriad tools for free or at very low prices. (And, depending on your tuition and fees, you might already have paid for some of these services, so it makes sense to get some value out of mandatory payments.)
[Make these resolutions to get more money for college.]
If these are some of your goals, let your school help you reach them by capitalizing on campus resources.
1. Get in shape: It's a common resolution for people of all ages, and if better fitness is one of your goals for 2012, consider taking advantage of your on-campus gym. At many schools, including Arizona State University and Indiana's Purdue University, students are automatically charged a standard gym fee within their semester bill, meaning there's no additional charge to use the basic on-campus fitness facilities.
"I get comments anecdotally from people about how they wish they would have taken advantage of [the gym] as students," says Michelle Jung, assistant director of fitness and wellness at Arizona State. "Now that they're in the real world, they realize how expensive [traditional gyms can be.]"
2. Start eating right: As any seasoned dieter knows, there's more to weight loss than hitting the gym; good nutrition is key, too.
[See how dining halls help students fight the Freshman 15.]
Whether you want to lose weight or just be healthier, consider your school's student wellness program, which might offer sessions and training. If you're looking for clinical help, there may be free options for you as well. At Emory University, for example, students can attend 15 free nutrition counseling sessions each year they're enrolled.
3. Cultivate financial responsibility: Don't wait to hone your financial know-how until after you graduate when you may be saddled with more expenses, bills, and possible student loan repayments. Check to see if your college offers financial literacy courses or training sessions, such as the ones at the University of Southern California, led by Gabe Albarian, an M.B.A. student and author of Financial Swagger.
In his sessions, Albarian counsels students on topics from understanding credit history reports to budgeting. Students at any school can practice setting a weekly budget by taking out a set amount of cash—$50, for instance—and pledging not to spend anything else.
It's a simple task, he says, but a crucial one to master during the college years. "So many of these basic lessons are a foundation upon which other future transactions are built," Albarian says.
4. Find peace: Students may be more stressed than in years past, according to one study released in January 2011. "The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010" found that only 52 percent of more than 200,000 first year students reported feeling at least "above average" in terms of emotional health. That report tallied the lowest levels of emotional health in the survey's 25-year span.
If you're struggling, check to see if you're eligible for a free appointment at your school's counseling center or clinic. Many colleges and universities, including St. Olaf College in Minnesota and Eastern Michigan University, allow students to attend mental health counseling at no cost.
5. Get hired after graduation: You're in college to get a degree, so make the most of the resources while you're paying. Take advantage of your school's career center, whether for services such as drop-in résumé help for which students are eligible at the University of California—San Diego or for video-taped interview training offered at schools including Pennsylvania State University—University Park.