Make 2017 the Year to Start or Finish Your Degree

Each year, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and vow to keep them. Eat better! Exercise more! Get organized! While these are all attainable goals, the reality is that many of us lose sight of them within a month or two. Why is it so difficult to keep resolutions? People often become overwhelmed if the goals they set are unrealistic, lacking specific steps to achieve them or both. If starting or completing a college degree is your goal in 2017, here are a few ideas to help keep that goal alive throughout the year.

Take small steps. Once you have chosen the college that meets your needs, schedule an appointment with an admissions representative to get more information. During the meeting, ask about the degree requirements, tuition costs, and potential career opportunities upon graduation. If you were previously enrolled in school, but did not complete your degree, the admissions representative can help determine which credits will transfer, or which additional classes will be needed. Schedule time to speak with the school’s financial aid advisor who can answer questions about financing and using your GI Bill. Does your school hold the Military Friendly® designation? If so, it means that the school has been “recognized for exhibiting leading practices in recruiting and supporting post-military students.”

Create an action plan. Determine what steps you can take today that will have a positive impact on your education. Develop a calendar that includes important dates and deadlines, such as when to register for classes, due dates for midterms and final exams and deadlines for tuition payments. Appoint a close friend, trusted advisor or family member who is willing and able to hold you accountable to your educational plan. Check in with them often to help keep you on track.

Remove distractions. Part of your action plan involves removing distractions, which can prevent us from achieving our goals. Finding a quiet place to study, unplugging from technology, or simply sitting in silence for five minutes and focusing on your present state of mind can help recharge your batteries and drive you forward, rather than backward.

Schedule fun to avoid burnout. Juggling school, work and family is a balancing act. If you find yourself pouring 99% of your time into your studies, be sure to take a break. Meet a friend for lunch, take the kids to the movies or hit the gym to recharge. Your education is an important part of your life as are the people supporting you to reach this goal.

Celebrate! Finally, celebrate your successes along the way. Whether you “aced” a difficult test, finished a complicated class project or met an impossible deadline, don’t wait to pat yourself on the back at the very end. Completing your degree is not only about the end result, but the journey you take along the way.

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