Creating and Maintaining a Schedule is the Key to Success

In high school, students are often scheduled to the max and don’t have to give much thought to time management. Between 6-7 hours a day in class, plus after-school hours at extra-curricular activities and/or a part-time job, plus hours spent on homework, most high school students don’t have the luxury of worrying about what to do with their free time.

College schedules, however, are quite different. Students often have large gaps of time between classes and on some weekdays, they may have no classes at all. While college students can also have a busy work and extra-curricular schedule, they still often find themselves with more unstructured, unscheduled time than they had in high school. If college students fail to balance their free time with their class/work/extra-curricular time successfully, they may find themselves falling behind academically. Below are a few time management tips for college students.

Create a Schedule

In high school, students have something scheduled for nearly every hour of their weekday, with parents and teachers telling them where and when they should be in a certain place. College students are responsible for scheduling their own time beyond class, work, and activities, and no one is telling them when they have to be where.

Using a calendar (see below), students should map out each hour of their day – when they will be in class, when they are scheduled to work, and when they have committed to activities. Once these essential activities have been scheduled, the student will more easily be able to see where she has “gaps” in her time. These free hours should be scheduled as well, and not with “take a nap” or “play video games.” Schedule these free hours during the day with tasks such as meeting with professors, going to the tutoring center, or doing library research, and students may be surprised at how much leftover time they have for video games or other activities at night or on weekends.

Read the Syllabus

If professors have provided a detailed course syllabus with listed due dates for course projects, students should list these due dates in their calendars. And to avoid having to stay up all night before a project is due in order to finish it, students should use their calendars as a way to help them break down a project into logical steps.

For example, a student could schedule two in-between class or work/activities hours for research on a project that is due in two weeks. The next week, the student could then schedule one or two of her “free” hours for reviewing research and writing the paper or working on a draft of the project.

Be Smart About Using Smartphones

That nifty cell phone can do more than just make phone calls, send texts, and hold music downloads. Most smartphones have a calendar function that can be integrated with and updated from both the phone itself as well as a personal computer.

Even without a smartphone, students can use an old-fashioned datebook calendar to help them create and keep a schedule. Most colleges and universities offer a free calendar to students at the beginning of the fall semester that typically lists college holidays and other events.

Get Help With Time Management

Colleges and universities are sensitive to student difficulties when managing time, and many have instituted courses devoted to time management (a student should check with her specific institution to see if such a course is required or optional). Other universities include time management as a unit of a required “university studies”-type course for first year students.

If a student feels she is having trouble managing her time and coursework on the topic isn’t an option, colleges and universities have a variety of resources that can help. Seek out the assistance of a tutoring center or other student services office – these offices frequently offer workshops on effective time management for college students.

Balancing schoolwork, a job, and a social life can be challenging for college students. However, with just a little attention to time management, students can balance their hectic schedules and be successful college students.