Some students find the transition from high school to college challenging on their time management skills. In high school, your parents and teachers structured much of your schedule, but in college, you have greater freedom and flexibility. Learning how to properly manage your time is essential for getting the most out of your college experience while still getting good grades.
It would be nice if there were more than 24 hours in the day so you could get everything done. However, by getting organized, you often can find a few hidden hours in your day. At the beginning of each semester, look at the course syllabus for each class and make an overview of the semester. Use a calendar or organizer to fill in significant events, such as projects, presentations, meetings and exams. This helps you plan ahead and avoid forgetting any due dates. It also helps you to know when the busiest times are so you can plan your study times to be most effective for each class. Being organized can help you balance your recreational activities as well so you don't end up throwing a party during your busiest week of school.
Constantly putting off studying can interfere with your ability to learn and remember, setting yourself up for academic failure, according to the University of Pennsylvania. Instead of waiting until the weekend to do all your work, use odd hours during the day to study, like a one-hour break between classes. If you start using free periods during the day to do homework or study, you'll have more free time for recreational activities later. These small blocks of time can actually help you retain information better without burning out, too, as your ability to concentrate on a particular subject tends to decrease rapidly after about two hours of straight concentration. Resisting the temptation to procrastinate also reduces stress as you are more likely to complete assignments before the last moment.
Prioritize Your Time
To succeed academically and have time for recreational pursuits, you need to prioritize. According to Clemson University, plan to study two to three hours per week for every hour you spend in lecture, but break up your study time into frequent, relatively short bouts of time. This is another instance where a weekly planner can really help. After determining your regular academic, work and social commitments, assign specific study times for each class throughout the week. Prioritize which subject to work on based on the difficulty or time commitment of the assignment and whether you'll need outside help. This can help you avoid a marathon cram session and keep you from spending more time preparing for a simple quiz when a major project is due in another class.
Each person has a different learning and studying style. You may prefer to study in the morning, together with a group or in a perfectly quiet environment. Based on your preferences, find a studying environment that best matches your learning style. This can make studying time more efficient, freeing up time that would otherwise be wasted on other pursuits.
- Clemson University: College Survival Skills: Time Management
- Bucks County Community College: Managing Your Time and Study Environment
- Duke University: Effective Time Management
- University of Pennsylvania: One of These Days I’ll Stop Procrastinating
- Cornell University: A Simple, Effective Time Management System
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