Strategies to Better Use Your Time in College: Tips to Get Ahead and Stay Stress-Free
The College Life
College offers a completely different routine and schedule than most freshman students have ever experienced. Unlike high school, you may not have to get up until noon for class. You have plenty of time outside of class to do homework, and it’s all up to you to find strategies to better use your time in college, since no parents are hounding you about whether your assignments are done. This amount of freedom and flexibility is great for some students, but others may feel overwhelmed by the task of getting everything done on their own. There may be weeks where you have absolutely no major assignments to work on, giving you plenty of free time. However, if you slack off during these times, you can expect total chaos during the week where you have two tests, a quiz and three papers due. With the right scheduling skills, you can easily create a more convenient and relaxing schedule that prevents caffeine-fueled all-nighters and hectic days at the library.
Create an Organized Schedule
Most college students are familiar with “syllabus day” – it’s the first day of each class at the beginning of a new semester where the majority of your time is spent discussing the assignments and expectations for the course. Since you won’t likely have any major assignments during that first week of classes, you should set aside time to create a schedule. Choose one point of reference for all your scheduling needs, preferably something that you can keep with you at home and in class like a small planner. At the beginning of the semester, write down every assignment for each class. For major assignments like tests, papers or presentations, add a reminder that the assignment is coming up two weeks before the due date. As the semester progresses, you should look at this schedule at least once a day to make sure you’re keeping on track. The two-week notices will help you remember to get started on your assignment now so that you won’t be completing it at 4am the morning that it’s due. This is one of the key strategies to better use your time in college that will prevent handing in late or rushed assignments.
Disconnect for Concentration
It’s often hard to focus on just your studies. In order to keep your mind on the task at hand, set aside certain times where you have to disconnect from the rest of the world in order to get your work done. While you’re writing a paper, stay off the Internet unless you need it for research. Keep your Facebook or email closed, and don’t chat online with friends or family. Turn off your phone and the tv, and go to the library if your room has too many distractions. It won’t be easy at first, but you’ll be surprised how much faster you can write a five-page paper when you aren’t pausing to send a text or reply to an email every five minutes.
Make a to-do list for the next day each night before you go to bed. Plan out what assignments you need to get done. If you have a major assignment due in the next week or two, include a small task you can do like picking up books at the library, writing an introduction to your paper or making flashcards to help you study. Not only will this help you keep up on your homework, it’ll also be much less stressful since you’ll already have most of the work done on major assignments when their due dates arrive. If you need to, you can also create a schedule for the day that motivates you to complete your assignments. For example, you want to go to a movie that night, so you commit to reading the 50 pages required for your English class before you can go to the movie. This is one of the strategies to better use your time in college that helps you stick to your schedule and motivate yourself with a kind of reward for getting things done on time.
A Few Reminders
Sticking to a schedule in college will be a challenge, but in the end it’s more rewarding. You’ll have more time to spend doing what you want, and when you do have free time, you won’t be stressing out about all the work you have to get done. These strategies to better use your time in college help you spread out your assignments rather than letting them creep up on you, which is the key to avoiding major disasters when it comes to homework and grades. Stay on top of things and commit to breaking the stereotype of the frazzled college student pulling an all-nighter at the library.
In closing, remember these fun tips when making your schedule:
- Schedule breaks for yourself. Between completing assignments for different classes, schedule a walk, a short nap or a half-hour of TV, whatever will help relax and rejuvenate you.
- Don’t forget to schedule in fun. While you’ll have to accept that you can’t go out every night, allow yourself some time off. You don’t want to get burned out by not allowing yourself any free time.
- Get some rest! It’s very important that you get enough sleep every night. Not only will you feel better, you’ll also perform better in school if you give yourself enough time to rest each night.