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The student's resolution

By William Candlish

Tuesday 6 January 2015 Student journalists

It’s that time of year again where we decide our New Year’s Resolutions. Here NUS Journalist William Candlish gives tips on how to be a 'better' student in the 2015.

In the words of Barry Manilow: 'Looks like we made it!'

Many of us will have made New Year’s Resolutions to better ourselves, many of which would have been dismissed by midnight on 1 January. Some swear to quit smoking or exercise more. Others strive to cut out fatty foods or maybe even learn a musical instrument.

For me, however, the resolution is the same as last year (and the year before): to be a better student. There will undoubtedly be other students with the same resolution as me, so here are five tips that will help you to realise that goal.

1. Ration your nights out

Yes, I know, university should be fun... but your degree must come first. So before you head out with friends for a night of drunken shenanigans, ask yourself: Do I have something I need to be doing? If the answer is yes, you should probably stay in.

Don’t think, 'Oh I’ll get it done tomorrow.' If you wake up with a hangover you’ll be lucky to leave your bed let alone do your work. I’m not saying to never go out, but to ration your nights out. If you don’t, you risk losing your degree along with the memories of the night before.

2. Get more sleep

Being tired leads to low levels of concentration, so getting enough Z’s is important. Sleep deprivation can impact our education because we are not absorbing all of the information we need to successfully do our work.

Getting enough sleep is the most simple and effective way to become a better learner and is critical for our long-term success (and health!) So why not get the head on the pillow a bit earlier?

After all, who doesn’t love a snooze?

3. Attend lectures and seminars

If anyone thinks that a lie-in is what I meant by my last tip, you are sadly mistaken. Get up and go to class! Lectures and seminars cover the content that you are going to be examined on, so why risk falling behind and having more work to catch up on?

Potential employers in the future may ask your lecturer for a reference as well, so it’s best to be in their good books.

4. Limit how many shows you watch

When deadline day is approaching, the television you can watch on your laptop is much more appealing than churning out the end of an essay. If you need a break by all means put on your favourite show, but don’t watch it for hours on end.

This is procrastination at its finest. You will still have to hand in your assignment, but it will be rushed and probably not your best work.

If you’re the type of person who can’t watch an episode of Game of Thrones without watching the entire series – stick to live TV and avoid the temptation. Who knows, watching daytime television shows may just drive you back to the textbooks.

5. Finish your assignment at least one day in advance

This may sound far-fetched to the majority of students, but you could be making your life so much easier by following this tip.

Our most stressful times in education are when major assignments are due so this isn’t when you want to be starting a project. If you plan to finish early, you won’t be under as much stress and – more than likely – you will earn a higher grade.

Picture it: all of your classmates are at home stressing about tomorrows due date and you’re out enjoying yourself.

Lucky you planned ahead, eh?


My name is William Candlish and I am a second year HND media student at Glasgow Clyde College. It is my hope that in the coming months I will manage to secure the grades that will allow me to progress on to university to study journalism.

I will be writing for the ‘Students in the Community’ theme. I wanted to write for this theme as there are lots of big events in Scotland in 2014; the Commonwealth Games will be in Glasgow, the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, and the independence referendum in September; and students are already actively engaged with these events through volunteering and debating. These are huge events, especially the independence referendum, and so student involvement in the debate will be heavy and very influential.

I wanted to become an NUS journalist because it is a great opportunity for me to expand my written portfolio, get some of my work published and to tell people about some of the great things that students in my community are doing.