“I simply didn’t have time.” That would probably be the greatest excuse I hear from college students. I always ask the same question, “Where have you been spending your time?”
Recently, a colleague told me that it would be impossible for a student to study for the suggested amount of time. They needed to remember their social life, clubs and have the full college experience. I don’t deny this. I wouldn’t want to give up my social experiences I had in college, but one needs to recall the main purpose of a college education -to get the education!
Before any student starts off for school, a few moments should be spent in planning their semester and especially putting in their study time.
- First, look and see how you are spending your time now. If you are not in school, think on your last semester. How did you spend your time?
- Second, look at your goals and values. What is most important to you? Does your schedule reflect those values?
- Third, how can you improve? How do you need to adjust your schedule to meet your goals and values?
When starting college, incoming students don’t realize that the time commitment is going to increase substantially. It is recommended that for every one hour in class, two to three hours of study time should be spent. These hours should be split between preparing for the lecture through homework and looking ahead at what will be covered and summarizing or reviewing what was learned in the class.
On a blank schedule: First, put in your schedule of classes. Second, add in your work schedule. I advise students to add these two times first as they are generally not negotiable. These times are set.
Now look at some of these:
- Add in your study time -labeled for each course. (For instance, if I were taking math, I would have my math class labeled. Then, I would add two more hours of ‘math study time’.
- Add in sleep.
- Plan leisure.
- Don’t forget meals and exercise.
What if you don’t need all of the scheduled study time? Do something fun!
Here are some other items to think about when doing your schedule:
- How do you spend your time between classes?
- Do you have a favorite time of day to study?
- Are you realistic in your time expectations and in your expectations for yourself?
- Have you allowed space in your schedule for emergencies or contingencies? (For instance, what if your lab assignment takes two hours instead of one?)
- Plan ahead. Look at your syllabus, highlighting any big exams and projects. Break them into smaller pieces.
- Be sure to reward yourself. Movies. Restaurants. Socializing. Reading. Gaming.
What do you do if your schedule simply isn’t working out as planned? Look at some of these items and see if one of these items may be causing the problem?
- Too much TV or video games.
- Socializing with friends is taking up too much time.
- Facebook or social media.
What other barriers have you found and what solutions have you discovered?
By Tracy Atkinson
Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.