New Year’s Resolutions for a Brighter 2013!

By Alison Home, on 1 January 2013

In January, people all over the world make New Year’s Resolutions to eat healthily, to exercise more, to watch less TV, to save more money or to be nicer to their families. These are all great resolutions! However, at UCL Horizons we have some suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions that YOU could make to help you do well at school and to improve your chances in the future.

Our top five New Year’s Resolutions are:

  1. Read a quality broadsheet newspaper AT LEAST once a week: this could include the  Guardian, the  Independent, the Telegraph,  The Times or the Financial Times (for all the future Alan Sugars!). You don’t need to buy a copy of the paper every week – your local library or school library might subscribe, or you can use the newspapers’ websites (all free except for the Times and the Financial Times).

Why this is a good idea: it is important that you keep up-to-date on current affairs, to know what is going on in the world around you. Universities like their students to have a good general knowledge about current affairs and politics, because it shows that they are interested in subjects outside their A levels and that they are capable of independent learning.

  1. Keep on top of deadlines: Buy or make a wall-planner for the year ahead and write in all your existing academic commitments – exams, coursework deadlines, projects and presentations. Then add all your extra-curricular activities – drama rehearsals, part time work, music lessons or sports practice. Finally, include all your social and family commitments – birthdays, family holidays and weddings. Use three different colours to make the different categories stand out. Add to the planner whenever you have a new deadline or event.

Why this a good idea: it is really important to keep on top of deadlines, to make sure that you have enough time to complete all your work without sacrificing your extra-curricular activities. Writing everything down, and updating your calendar regularly, means that you always know what you have to do and how long you have to do it.

  1. Join your local library: Find out where your local library is and go along to register as a member. Libraries provide free internet access and you can borrow DVDs and CDs as well as books. They will have access to magazines and journals, like New Scientist or History Today, which can be used to demonstrate an interest in your subject on UCAS application forms. Ask the librarians to show you material related to the subjects you are studying at school. Libraries sometimes run skills sessions, languages courses or other classes. Explore their facilities – what material do they have about careers, revision, or university applications?

Why this is a good idea: your local library is an amazing resource to support you in your studies. You can access material to help you write coursework, revise for your exams, or apply for university. The librarians can point you towards the most relevant information – they are much more reliable than using Google!

  1. Do something cultural: visit a museum or gallery, or go to the theatre. London has some of the best museums in the world and almost all are free! Try the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Tate, the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum, the Wellcome Collection and London’s Centre for the Built Environment. UCL itself has two museums – the Grant Museum of Zoology and the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. Check out Time Out for news about exhibitions and events. Going to the theatre can be expensive, but if you’re 16-25 you can join a lot of different schemes that help you to get cheap or free tickets for some of the best theatres in the world! Try the National Theatre Entrypass scheme or the English National Opera Access all Arias scheme.

Why this is a good idea: cultural experiences can be fun and rewarding for everyone, whether you are interested in science, history, art or drama. Visiting museums and galleries can help you to understand your subject in new ways – explore ideas about climate change and the environment in the Science Museum, or think about ancient civilisations in the British Museum. Universities like to see evidence that you have engaged with cultural events and institutions, because it shows that you are interested in subjects outside of your school work, and that you are good at independent learning and development.

  1. Get on the career ladder: take some sensible steps to start thinking about your future career. If you don’t already have a CV, make it a priority to write your own – include your educational experience, extra-curricular activities and work experience, with a short personal statement highlighting your skills and qualities. There is more information about completing a CV on the Help4Teens website. Once you have a CV, try to arrange some work experience, shadowing or an internship in an area that interests you. Find a Connexions centre near you and check out their careers resources, or make an appointment with your school careers advisor.

Why this is a good idea: it is never too early to start thinking about careers. Speaking to a careers adviser can help you to think about the sort of things that you enjoy doing, and how these might relate to your future work. Some jobs require specific degrees – and these often have requirements for specific A levels (for example medicine requires chemistry and sometimes biology), so you need to think about possible careers when you are choosing your GCSE and A level subjects.  If you have an up-to-date CV, it is ready to send to people when opportunities arise, and you won’t miss out on great chances!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?


This post was written by Charlotte Riley