You might think the freedom to spend your time however you want in college, without parents telling you what to do, sounds great. But if you don’t budget your time wisely, you may struggle academically.
In college, the amount of time you spend studying affects your grades. The more time you spend out of class studying, the better your grades. Unfortunately, many students think they will have plenty of time to study later, so they can do whatever they want right now. Then, as other assignments also become due and other commitments arise, the time they thought would be there evaporates.
To ensure you study the right things, in the right amount, at the right time, follow these steps. Starting in high school helps the strategies become habit.
1. Plot Your Weekly Schedule
Use a weekly calendar that shows the hours of each day. Then:
- Identify your set time commitments that occur every week and write them in the calendar.
Look for blocks of time during the day to create “study blocks.” As a general rule, your time in class and your time studying each day for each college class should add up to at least 8 hours, or more if you are carrying a heavy course load.
- Work schedule.
- Other known commitments like club meetings.
- Seven and a half to 8 hours of sleep each night.
3. Block out leisure time so that you are realistic about the time you can afford to spend not studying.
- Study halls or gaps between your classes. In college, it will make more sense to stay near your next classroom than to walk back and forth to your dorm.
- When you get to college, you may have days when your classes end earlier.
- Available evenings and weekends.
2. Plan Your Study Schedule
Next, figure out the right things to study at the right time. You might want to use longhand and paper to do this; studies have shown that the act of writing an action item down helps you to take ownership of it as you effectively commit to getting it done.
- Start by laying out all of your class syllabi side by side.
- On separate sheet of paper, write the due dates for all the assignments listed and all quiz and test dates, for all your classes, in date sequential order.
- Highlight the assignments that are big and extra time-consuming.
- Use a different color to highlight upcoming tests and make note of assignments that overlap.
- Resolve conflicts in due dates and test dates by planning to study ahead of time over the preceding weeks.
3. Transfer Your Information.
Use an electronic calendar or app that will be easy to reference and adjust throughout the semester.
- Input your weekly schedule and study blocks as recurring items running throughout the entire semester.
- Next, input the assignments and tests from the highlighted list that you created.
- Finally, for each study block, input details on what you should study or work on, based on due dates and the conflicts you resolved in the previous step.
4. Stick to Your Schedule
Make a pact with yourself to stay disciplined. Sure, some things will come up that will require you to change your schedule. But don’t fall into the trap of convincing yourself there will be time later to do the hard work.