When you leave for college, you will most likely leave behind the very rigid structure of your high school life. You were likely involved in more activities than you had reasonable time for just to get into college. With so many activities, your daily schedule was likely filled to the point that you didn’t even have much free time available to you.
When you get to college you will have classes, and you might sign up for a few activities. But one thing that you will quickly realize you have is free time! That may seem like such a welcome relief from your overfilled schedule of high school.
As your free time starts to build up in college, it’s easy to feel lost and unfocused. Coursework may start to fall by the wayside in exchange for more enjoyable activities. There are, however, a few time management strategies that can help you have a more productive college experience.
Plan Out Your Semester
One of the many ways college is different from high school is the importance of the syllabus. You may have gotten a few during high school, but they may have been only loosely followed. In college, however, the syllabus is the key to your success in just about every course. It is the game plan for your entire semester. Your daily readings and/or practice problems are listed, as well as major papers and assignments.
Your professor will most likely remind you after each class what your daily assignment is. However, these friendly reminders can often lead to your syllabus remaining untouched in the back of your class folder.
Then, a week before the semester is over, you are reminded that the paper you were supposed to be working on all semester is due. You haven’t started it. Now what do you do? On top of studying for finals, now you need to find time to complete a substantial paper.
To avoid this stressful situation, take the time at the beginning of the semester to copy all of the assignments for each class you are taking from the syllabus to a planner or calendar. Writing down the assignments makes you more aware of them. Not only have you read them, but you have also repeated them to yourself through writing. This will help lock them into your memory.
Bring Back Structure
In college, a lot of the way we plan our daily lives is essentially up to us. Instead of six to eight hours a day spent in school and the remaining hours devoted to extra-curricular activities, eating, and sleeping, you might only have two or three hours of class each day.
You might have some readings or assigned problems to tackle each day, but those usually won’t take up too much time if you keep up with them. You may be tempted to let those small assignments pile up and complete them in a marathon work session. But that can spell disaster, especially if you underestimate how much time you will need or if something unexpected comes up.
Your best course of action is to make a schedule and hold yourself to it. Get into a structured routine, but make sure you leave time for fun. Adding structure back into your life can help you manage your time and hold yourself accountable.
When Time Management Strategies Aren’t Enough
College can be an amazing and rewarding experience if you are able to manage your time. You can get your work done and still have time to spend on extracurricular activities or with your new friends. However, sometimes time management strategies just don’t seem to work, and you may feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do.
If you are having trouble navigating the immense freedom and responsibility of the college experience you may find that speaking to a professional can help. Your school likely has a counseling office to provide you with some general assistance. However, the amount of time they are able to spend with you may be limited.
If you feel like you could use some additional help managing what should be one of the most exciting times of your life, give us a call. One of our trained therapists can help you navigate this stage in your life so you can have an exciting and rewarding college experience.