Originally Posted: Jun 28, 2011
Last Updated: Feb 15, 2018
You probably thought you were busy in high school. It is nothing like being in college. There will be days when you can't imagine how anyone graduates from college in four years.
But here's the thing: most college students don’t graduate in four years. Many students aren’t even planning on that any more, and less than 40% of students who begin college finish in four years. (Keep in mind that’s another semester, year, or two years or more that you will need to pay for, and not all scholarships and grants extend beyond four years.)
One of the critical elements in college success—and in later life—is planning your time wisely. The buzzwords are “time management.” You will feel better mentally and physically, you will accomplish more, and you will probably do better academically.
Take a few minutes and look at a typical week. List your most important time obligations. These are things like classes, required meetings, and work. Then look at related obligations, which include study time, assigned reading time, and meetings for organizations you joined. You might want to try mapping them out on a paper or online calendar. When you block these things on a week, what does it look like? Now, add the time before and after these events to be sure you get to where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. Your week already looks pretty full, doesn’t it?
Someway or another, you now have to squeeze in time for sleep, eating, exercise, socializing, and such. Even though it seems like an impossible task, you must force yourself to complete this exercise. Moreover, you will probably have to adjust it each week. Some of your time obligations will remain the same, but some will change. Other events will drop in and out of your calendar. If you are a sports fan, for example, you will probably want to schedule home games, and they vary from sport to sport.
If you take time management seriously, you will learn to build your schedule around the immovable objects in your life, and in college, they are your classes and subsequent homework. Beyond that, you will find your study time is the most critical element. Other things more or less fall in place and will give you an opportunity to feel that you have some control over your life.
The secret sauce in college time management is leaving yourself enough time to get to where you are supposed to be. A mistake that many people make is repeatedly underestimating the time needed to get somewhere. As a result, they are chronically late, anxious, and unsettled. That’s a dreadful way to go through college, so it’s better to give yourself a realistic amount of time to arrive at your destinations. If you get somewhere early, consider it a bonus and do some studying.