When thinking about bringing in the New Year, the first two images that pop into my head are a massive crowd and a countdown from 10 to 0.

For many, a brand new year represents a brand new start: the beginning of an education; a military assignment; raising a family; beginning a new job; making new friends; starting a new relationship. And, of course, making good on all of your New Year's resolutions. OK, maybe most of your resolutions.

As we usher in 2012, I wanted to share 10 potential New Year's resolutions for students in online degree programs. As a tribute to New Year's, let's count them down from 10 to 1:

10. Don't leave studying to the last minute.

Quick tip: No secret, but it's difficult to consistently uphold, with work, family and/or military obligations on your priority list as well. The key is studying ahead of time for a few minutes at a time. This way, you don't need to cram studying a few chapters into a few minutes. You'll retain more if you study ahead of time as well.

9. Make to-do lists.

Quick tip: Online learners typically live extremely busy lives. Making to-do lists will prioritize the day's events, keep you more organized and help you appreciate what you've accomplished. It's a great feeling to cross items off.

8. Eat healthier foods.

Quick tip: No, it's not directly related to your school work, but eating better helps maintain a healthy lifestyle, which ties into completing your school work on time.

7. Ask questions.

Quick tip: If you don't understand an assignment or topic, ask your professor about it. The last thing you want to do is assume the assignment should be approached one way, when an alternate approach is expected.

6. Get more sleep.

Quick tip: Being more alert, fresh and energized could affect your school work and focus in a positive way. It's amazing what a good night of sleep can do for you the next day.

5. Turn off the iPod when studying.

Quick tip: Unless you have hard data suggesting your grades improve with the iPod speakers on full blast, consider studying without the tunes. This is not to suggest eliminating music from your life. Incorporate music when appropriate, like during breaks and on your free time.

4. Curb your stress.

Quick tip: Part of feeling less stressed is being more organized. Making a to-do list can help you fend off stress. The stress you'd normally have won't feel nearly as overwhelming.

3. Take a break.

Quick tip: Reward yourself for completing half of the tasks on your to-do list, for example, by taking a 30-minute break and watching your favorite TV show. After completing everything on the to-do list, relax for the remainder of the evening.

2. Laugh more.

Quick tip: OK, so you can't force yourself to laugh, but studies have shown1 that laughter is healthy for your physical and mental state of mind. It's a refresher and relaxer of sorts. Being in the right state of mind while writing papers and studying is important to your overall academic success.

1. Tackle assignments in chunks.

Quick tip: If a lengthy assignment seems overwhelming, break it up into separate, smaller items. This can really be effective in approaching papers if you work ahead. You can re-write and edit your content as you go along. It's unrealistic to think you can sit down and write a well-researched term paper in an hour. Instead, work on the paper weeks in advance, and try to write 300 words or so at a time.

What are your New Year's Resolutions? Share your resolution in the comments section below. And Happy New Year 2012!

1 https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter#1