Overscheduled and unprepared? Or partied and got nothing done?

Congratulations.  You’ve survived your first month of fall semester.  It’s been an awesome month, filled with events like Campus Fest and Family Weekend.  

As the semester progresses, you might find that you have a lot of homework: chapters to read, projects to complete and maybe even a few midterms looming.  It’s crunch time!  Your to-do list might seem a little overwhelming right now, but don’t freak out.  If you budget your time well, you can stay on task and still maintain your social life, too. 

 Time management is so important in college and staying on track in your classes now will really help you throughout the rest of the semester.  Do you know how to manage your time effectively?  I’ve compiled a list of some classic mistakes and poor study habits I’ve seen from other students (and a couple that I’m guilty of myself) and thrown in some tips on how to avoid them! 

No. 1 The Caffeine-Induced All-Nighter:  You might’ve tried this one out in high school.  Some students will wait until the last minute possible to study for an important exam or write a big paper.  Whatever their reason —work, other classes, other pressing issues — this rarely ever works out well.  Yes, with enough Red Bull, you can probably pull off a paper 12 hours before it’s due.  Will it be ‘A’ quality?  Probably not.  I’ve pulled all-nighters.  Last semester, during exam week, the final in my one of my honors classes was a paper on everything we had learned that semester.  A little intimidating, right?  Something we should’ve started early and worked on for several days, right?  A group of us waited until the afternoon before to begin writing it and met up in our common space, the “LOFT,” with our laptops.  We didn’t leave until sometime early the next morning.  Honestly, all-nighters sound good in theory, but if you’re pulling them every Sunday night, you should adjust your study habits.  Oh and here’s a little fact to keep in mind.  This was emphasized in my Educational Psychology class: your brain retains information better when you study it in chunks.  If you have a midterm coming up next week, try studying one chapter a day.  Your GPA will thank you.

No. 2 The Partied-All-Weekend-and-Got-Nothing-Done Scenario:  College is about decisions.  Make smart ones!   If you party all night Thursday, miss all of your classes Friday, then completely blow your weekend and show up late to class Monday with your homework half done, sporting a hangover, you can say goodbye to your good grades.  You can try explaining your predicament to your instructors, but they probably won’t be sympathetic.  Don’t fall into this trap.  There are a lot of safer, smarter ways to socialize and de-stress in college.  Join an organization or get a study group together every Saturday and order Cookie Jar.  Try this strategy: set up a reward system.  Get your friends from your residence hall together and hog the study lounge.  Turn off the TV, put your cell phones away and study for a good hour or two.  When you’re all done studying, break out the snacks and a good DVD.  Find a good balance between getting your work done and having fun. 

No. 3 The Overscheduled and Underprepared:  I see this one a lot.  Students overestimate their abilities to manage time.  They try to balance 18 credit hours, work, Greek life and sports teams; however, despite their best efforts, there just isn’t enough time in the day.  Trust me, I understand this one.  It’s so tempting to join every organization that looks fun or pick up hours at work and make a little extra spending money.  This semester, I’m juggling five classes, working an on-campus job, pledging a co-ed service fraternity and completing a 60-hour field experience.  I’ve decided to drop a couple of my favorite extracurricular activities to keep my sanity.  If you feel overwhelmed, try this tip: make a pie chart and plot out the different ways you spend your time.  This sounds dorky, but it’s pretty insightful.  Be honest with yourself.  Of course, there are 30 different organizations that look good to you, and it might seem like a great semester to jump into Greek life or play on a club team.  Just remember that you have to have time to sleep, too.  If the rest of your life is getting in the way of your classes, make some adjustments before you find yourself falling behind!

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