Time management can be a common problem for any student. But throw work, children and social activities in the mix, and the web of daily responsibilities becomes even more intricately woven. Your family can barely sit down for a meal together at home as it is, so the added stress of weekly assignments to complete and exams to study for can easily become overwhelming.
Well you’re not alone in attempting to balance a chaotic schedule with earning your degree. In fact, 72 percent of college students maintain steady jobs throughout the school year, 20 percent of whom work full-time, according to a 2011 study by the U.S. Census Bureau.
We scoured the web for expert advice and polled some current Rasmussen College students who can identify with your time management struggles to learn some important tips for staying on top of assignments and exams in the midst of busy schedules. Take a look at these six quick tips for getting a grasp on the busy life of a working student.
6 time management tips for college students
TIP 1: Read your course calendar
Sometimes the best advice is among the simplest: One of the first and most important steps in achieving successful time management in college is to read your course calendars carefully.
“[A course calendar] is your best friend,” says Matthew Schlager. If you know the due dates for specific assignments and the time frames for quizzes, papers and exams, you’ll be able to spread out the necessary school work. “My motto is, ‘Due on Sunday doesn’t mean do on Sunday,’ ” Schlager adds.
TIP 2: Plan ahead
Kristin Jones’ advice serves as a great companion to Schlager’s: Jones urges the importance of planning ahead. “I would look ahead into each week to see what assignments were due,” she says. She’d then plan out her week so that she was doing something for the class every day, alleviating the intensity of the workload. “It’s very hard to catch up once you get behind,” she says.
Whether you get a good grasp on your coursework for the entire semester, or simply for the next week, creating a plan will balance your workload and minimize the possibility for those dreaded, but sometimes necessary, all-night cram sessions.
TIP 3: Make schedules
It can be easy to procrastinate in college—there is an unintentional consistency of letting the clutter of late work nights, dinner plans and school plays postpone your schoolwork. This often results in completing assignments in the wee hours before they’re due.
Frank Ortiz suggests the effectiveness of taking charge and giving yourself some guidelines. “Make schedules. Print the weekly assignment sheets and check them off as you [complete] them,” he says.
Billy Moore agrees: “Stay dedicated to the time that you set aside for your school work,” adding that it’s often helpful to schedule a bit of extra time in that window for unexpected questions or technical issues you may come across.
TIP 4: Make checklists
Printing or writing out checklists for each class or each day of the week can be a helpful way of remembering everything you need to get done. “You can check [each item] off after you’re done with it,” says Ashley Esquibel, who uses this method with her school work.
Charisse Nicole keeps a virtual notepad open on her computer with each week’s checklist. “I leave my notepad up all week and check things off as I go along,” she says. This not only helps her see how much she has left to do, but it also allows her to appreciate each little accomplishment along the way.
TIP 5: Stay organized
Keeping your school work organized can be a huge factor in saving you some time throughout the week, especially if you’re taking more than one class at a time. If you have separate binders, notebooks and folders for each class, you’ll quickly be able to find that sheet of notes you need for next week’s test or the printed article you planned to reference for your big research paper.
Avoiding clutter isn’t just important when organizing your notes and hand-outs. Be sure to keep your computer desktop organized in a way that always allows you to locate the files you’ll need for each particular class.
TIP 6: Be healthy
This may seem like the kind of advice you heard from your mother and now pass down to your own kids in the form of warm socks in the winter, sunscreen in the summer and daily vitamins year-round, but it can actually play a huge role in successfully managing your time while in college.
Practicing regular exercise can keep your energy levels up, resulting in a more engaged mind when doing school work. Many also assert that getting adequate sleep at night can save college students time—this not only helps you avoid the time taken for afternoon naps, but it also can increase your alertness and decrease your stress levels.
Put these tips to use!
Take the advice of students who have been there and see if you can calm that chaotic schedule for a stress-free college degree. For more help managing your time while in college, check out some specific study tips from straight-A students and helpful advice on staying organized in the midst of a busy schedule.