Classes and work and clubs, oh my!
Homework, clubs and work leaves students struggling to manage their time. Photo by Priya Patel.

Classes and work and clubs, oh my!

Students begin their first week at college reviewing the syllabus in each class and returning home with little to do. By the time the second week starts, projects, club events and part-time work start to accumulate. Students have no idea how to fit all of their classes and activities into their schedule. As the semester goes by, their grades plummet.

Academic counselors advise students that time management is necessary for a successful college career. Without it, students may have difficulty balancing work, academics and extracurricular activities.The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences published time management tips on their academic advising page, which states that students should, “set priorities, set time limits, eliminate distractions and get enough sleep.”

Learning Resources Center’s Assistant Director Delana Gregg speaks about how high school students transition to college. “I think they already have a good idea about how to go to seven classes every day, do homework for all of them and complete extracurriculars,” Gregg says. “I think the change that students are unprepared for when coming to college is that difference between being in class every day, to being in class perhaps once a week.”

“Getting up earlier, being up later and doing more things wasn’t something I was used to,” biology junior Skylar Stewart says. “It was a transition, but it was also a learning experience, and because of that, I learned to adapt and stay focused.”

The time management section of the LRC website recommends that students should spend two to three hours studying for every class hour. This means that if a student is taking 15 credits, then they should spend 30 to 45 hours per week outside of class studying. “It’s so funny because my chem professors don’t go by that,” Stewart says. “They say, ‘for every class hour you spend in [my] class, you should spend five hours studying.'”

Gregg explains how a student can use that rule of thumb in a beneficial way. “To learn a new subject, you have to read, take notes and do practice problems, which may take an hour,” she says. “But going back and reviewing to make sure you understand the material is where that extra hour comes from. Doing that extra reviewing and engaging with the material is what helps students learn.”

What if a student does not need all the extra time to study? “It’s not about [how much] time you spend, but what you are doing in that time,” Stewart says. “I think that [studying two to three hours for every hour of class] is a little bit archaic, but the idea behind it is you’re supposed to be putting more time outside of class because that’s where a lot of the learning happens.”

Each student learns at their own pace. Some might take several hours to learn a new subject while some might absorb it during a lecture. “With practice, you can learn what your work schedule is and what your daily routine can be because it’s going to be different for everyone,” Stewart says. “Some people do everything at once, some need to get ahead of things. It’s just about finding what works for you.”