Time management in college may sound like something hard to achieve when first heard, especially when you’re starting your first year at university. It takes some time to get to know the different approaches to the subjects you’re studying (if they are going to be mostly theoretical or practical, when are the exams going to take place, which is the project deadlines,etc.), and you can’t help but wonder whether you’re going to have enough time to study when you want to combine your degree with a part-time job or an extracurricular activity.
For this reason, it is probably not a good idea to overschedule yourself in your first year by joining the local tennis and karate clubs while working night shifts at a fast-food restaurant and taking private French lessons three days a week. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your new environment and see for yourself whether you would have enough time or not to include different activities you’re interested in your weekly schedule without it having a negative interference in your studying time, social life and most importantly, your well-being! To cut back on sleep or to stop seeing your friends just to fill in your self-imposed obligations will have a very negative impact on both your physical and emotional health long-term.
So, what is the best way to start your academic year on a good footing, to be prepared for everything? A good idea is to buy an annual agenda or a calendar to hang in a place where it can be easily seen once the academic year starts, and write down any new relevant information you receive (such as the date of a conference, an assignment deadline, when the midterm exam is going to take place) as soon as it is given to you. If you leave it for later, you might simply forget about it and have an unpleasant surprise later. Try to discipline yourself into annotating every task or event whenever they pop up. Don’t worry; you’ll get the drill soon!
Another good tip is to stay tuned for the new subjects you’ll be studying. You should always pay attention to your lectures, for it will be easier for you to review the contents later. It is always best to figure out which are the most challenging subjects for you. That way you may create your studying schedule basing yourself on those issues which require a greater dedication from you, and those which are less demanding. One mistake many students make during their academic life is leaving subjects they are not very good at or that they don’t like very much to study to the very end, which may cause them a lot of complications later.
To avoid falling into that trap, acknowledge soon which are the most sensitive subjects for you and try to study them more regularly. There are some things you can do to improve your performance in a complicated subject: you can always ask your professor for a tutorial, ask a friend who understands it better to give you a hand or even opt for studying in a group with your classmates.
In case you indeed see yourself combining your university degree with a job and any other extracurricular activities, you’re going to have extra responsibilities you’ll need to carry out. If you really need a job in order to support yourself or even if you just wish to acquire some work experience for your future, be realistic.
Take into account how much dedication time your studies require. Usually, art and humanities students have more time to spare than those who have chosen, for instance, engineering or scientific degrees. Look for jobs which offer more flexible timetables rather than fixed ones.
Even though the combination of studies with work or other activities will help you become more organized and develop valuable life skills, it is probably not a good idea to allow them to take more than 20 weekly hours of your time. It’s not only about having problems to catch up with your projects and assignments later; you should always make sure you have enough time to rest and to hang out with your friends!
However, the thing which most students worry about is how to prepare for their college exams. This may seem even more nerve-wracking for those who, besides all the required reviewing and studying, must comply with their weekly working hours or, for instance, with their piano lessons or volleyball practice. In case this situation applies to you, make sure you learn well in advance exactly in which dates your examinations will take place.
Take advantage of that fantastic agenda or planning item of your choice and set a daily studying schedule for yourself with enough anticipation; for example, if your exams will be at the end of January, try to start reviewing your notes at the beginning of the month. It doesn’t need to be anything extreme; usually, a couple of hours every day will suffice. This way, you’ll gradually build up a routine so that it won’t be harder to dedicate more studying hours as the exam dates approach. Besides, if you study a little every day, you’ll end up assimilating a right amount of information without having to make a pantagruelian effort and still have time to attend your outside-uni duties!
If you follow these simple tips, you’ll have no trouble balancing your university degree with any other activities you’d like. Even though it seems difficult at first, it is quite far from impossible. You just have to believe in yourself and stay motivated. Take it from a Modern Languages student who has just completed her first year with all subjects passed while working part-time doing administrative tasks for a fueling company, taking ice-skating lessons and still maintaining a “decent” social life!