Time management and organization are key skills to college success. College is much different than high school. In high school, your schedule is planned out for you and you know you’ll be in school pretty much between the hours of 7:30am and 3:00pm. In college, your schedule can vary drastically. You might have a class schedule that resembles something like this:
English: M/W/F, 8:00am – 9:00am
Psychology: M/W/F, 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Biology: T/Th, 12:30pm – 3pm (Labs on Wednesday from 11:00am – 12:00pm)
Statistics: T/Th: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
As you can see, you may have several hours of “free time” between your classes. In order to maintain your GPA (especially if you’ve got a merit scholarship that you would like to keep during your entire college career), you have to be able to put in the time to study, but you also want to be able to keep up with your work schedule and a social life. To manage your time effectively, using a calendar and/or a planner will be key.
If you have a smartphone, you have a calendar at your fingertips that you carry with you everywhere you go. Use it to your advantage! Here is a sample of what a week might look like for a typical college student.
In those extra blank spaces, you can add in time to hang out with friends, go to the gym, or do a service project. Being very specific about what you plan to do with your time will help you to initiate and follow through with your tasks. If you really want to, you can also schedule the time you go to bed and wake up every day, but not everyone needs to do that. Make adjustments to your schedule as needed based on what you need.
Some students struggle with not budgeting enough time or even too much time for a particular task. In this case, you may need to try an experiment and keep track of some data for a week or two to get a sense of how much time you need to devote to a particular activity. One thing you can do is create a chart of your tasks, estimate how much time the task will take you, then record how much time you actually spent on the activity from start to finish. There are also apps that can help you manage your time, such as 30/30, Remember the Milk, and Focus Booster.
High school is a great time to start practicing some of these strategies to help you ease the transition to college. If you can master this before you leave the fall of your freshman year, you’ll start college off in a much better position because you’ll have developed an essential skill for not only college, but for everyday life.