Whether a traditional high school graduate starting college or an adult learner returning for a degree, you should be prepared to spend adequate time outside of class studying. Finding the right balance between class time, study time, work and friends is part of the time management challenge experienced by many college students.

Ratio Recommendations

In her book, "College Study Skills," author Dianna L. Van Blerkom indicates that students should generally keep a two-to-one study-to-class-time ratio. This means you should plan to study two hours for each one hour of class time. If you have high performance goals or a particularly difficult class, higher ratios of three- or four-to-one are suggested. In its "Surviving College" student guide, the University of Michigan recommends a similar ratio, advising students to spend six to nine hours in out-of-class study for each three-credit course.

Allocating Time

Based on a conservative two-to-one ratio, a 12-credit class schedule dictates 24 hours of outside study. This may be difficult to manage, especially if you work. Effective time management is key. To avoid the constant pull of friends, parties, television and video games, block out specific study time each day. Keep a study log so you are aware of what you study and for how long. Log your daily activities for a few days to identify any unnecessary activities or time wasters that you could eliminate to increase study time. Keep to-do lists of tests, projects and major study activities.