Improving Academic Performance

Decoding College: Tips for Time Management [Part 1]

Posted by Morgan Bissett-Tessier on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 @ 03:38 PM

time management college students

So, you’ve survived four years of high school; Congratulations!  Just as you’re getting comfortable, the world and its karma throw you into a completely new environment called college.           

That’s right. You’re a confused freshman once again.  All of a sudden you have no clue.  “What’s going on, where to go, how to make friends, and where in the world are my classes?!”  Not to mention the lack of parental control and the copious amount of “free” time.  It can be overwhelming, to say the least.  I’m here to tell you that there is a helpful tactic in deciphering it all.  TIME MANAGEMENT.  Here are a few tips to make sure you make the most of your time in college, without flunking out. 

SET GOALS…and WRITE THEM DOWN.   

We all know the fantastic feeling we can get out of crossing something off the To-Do list.  But the existence of such a list isn’t just a boost of confidence, it keeps us organized.  Otherwise, you may find yourself spending all of your time wondering how to get everything done instead of doing.  Setting reachable, daily goals for yourself will allow you to organize the chaotic world of college and your time in a way that aids progress and achievement.  We all love to cross those goals off the To-Do list, so make it a priority to create a new list for the next day each night before you go to bed.  Just think of how many tasks you’ll get to accomplish! Now that’s something to look forward to. 

GET A PLANNER…and USE IT.

Now that you’ve decided to set goals and make daily To-Do lists, where are you going to write it all down?  In a planner! Especially when dealing with a new class schedule, club meetings, and activities that aren’t programmed into your brain yet, it is immensely helpful to have one place that displays every obligation you have.  This way, you can keep track of plans and work around them.  Without a planner, you WILL forget things.  College is stressful enough; don’t let yourself make it any harder. 

BLOCK AND BALANCE YOUR COURSES. 

When building your schedule for the next semester of college, it’s important to note that blocking courses back to back instead of spreading them out over the course of a week is the most effective use of your time.  As a freshman, you may not like this idea; one or two classes a day sounds pretty awesome.  But in reality, you will spend those awkward amounts of time between classes on Facebook or eating a long lunch.  If you can schedule classes back to back on two or three days in a week, you will find that you have larger chunks of time better suited to studying.

Also, make sure you’re balancing courses and not spending too much time focusing on one and neglecting others.  It is important to know where your strengths and weaknesses lie in each subject area and to plan your time accordingly.  A good rule of thumb is for every 1 hour of class, commit to two hours of study time.  Although this may seem excessive, if you follow this guideline, things like midterms and finals will be much easier to conquer. 

OWL? OR ROOSTER?

It’s important to be honest with yourself when determining your best times to study and focus.  Some of us are night owls while others are more productive in the morning hours.  Although many times we’d like to think we could wake up at 7am and finish all the homework we didn’t do the night before, that’s not a good idea if you just aren’t a morning person.  Just because your new roommate studies at 4pm doesn’t mean that will work best for you too.  Listen to your body’s natural biological clock! It’s important to be honest with yourself and schedule study time appropriately.

GET HELP BEFORE YOU REALLY NEED IT

Most teaching assistants have office hours all semester.  They are free to attend, and you can ask questions in a quiet, 1-1 environment.  As the year progresses, you could probably go every week, perhaps more than that, and get free, private tutoring from your professor – because almost nobody seems to take advantage of these office hours until right before a big test, midterm, project, or final.  Similarly, many colleges offer free private or small group tutoring at places that have names like “Academic Resource Center,” etc.  The same story goes for these resources as well.

Don’t be afraid to use these services. The earlier, more proactively you use them, the quicker you’ll understand the material, and the less time you’ll need to spend rushing around before a big test.  Time invested now will save time later, and you’ll almost always end up with a better grade in the class.

If you are a college freshman feeling overwhelmed, let me tell you a little secret: you’re not the only one.  Making good use of your time and staying organized is a big part of becoming a successful university student. 

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO OF DECODING COLLEGE: TIPS FOR TIME MANAGEMENT 

Note: We really liked the below article and leveraged it as a source in this blog post
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