Nontraditional students today make up as much as 73 percent of the college population, according to author Susan Choy. Many of these busy students work full time, attend a college or a university online, and have dependents. The ability to balance school with real life is essential for them, but that’s often easier said than done. If you’ve found yourself in a juggling scenario between schoolwork and other responsibilities, these time management strategies can help to ensure your academic success.
Your schedule is probably complicated even without attending classes. Between work, parenting, and running a household, it may feel like there’s no time for dinner, let alone hitting the books. The key is strategic scheduling. Offset more taxing classes with courses that require less intensive study. Keeping a balanced class load will allow you some extra brainpower to focus on more difficult courses and help you avoid stress at the end of the term.
Plan It Out
Don’t assume homework hours will present themselves – plug study time into your calendar. Use a smartphone app to assist in logging every test and assignment due date. Be realistic about how much time you'll need to complete the tasks and key that in, too. According to an article by Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman in U.S. News and World Report, a good rule of thumb is to plan two hours of homework time for every hour of lecture time. It’s not just a tool for organization, either. Scheduling your academic work is a step toward a new lifestyle. As Betsy Takeda-Tinker, President of Colorado State University-Global Campus says, “Placing specific dates and time on a calendar helps to emphasize that school is a priority and a commitment.”
Break It Up
It’s easy to procrastinate when your plate is already full, but between work and family – not to mention your health – you can’t afford to pull all-night cram sessions. Yet the odds of having a full day to devote strictly to studying are next to nil. Be savvy with major assignments by starting early and breaking them up into manageable chunks of work. Approach projects realistically – if you’re working on a major paper, assess how much time it will take to research, write, edit, and finalize the finished product. Don’t forget to build in extra time for unforeseen glitches like the Internet going down or your printer not working.
Opportunities to review for a quiz or read another chapter are more available than you might think; you just need to be ready. Your body might have to be at your daughter’s soccer practice, but your brain can be reviewing lecture notes while she’s off kicking. Family homework time is another win-win. While your son is studying for his spelling test, you can do your own work right beside him at the kitchen table. If you commute to work, don’t use the dead time to zone out to music. Bring your book on the bus or metro for 30 extra minutes of homework instead. Little bursts of studying add up, so seize every opportunity to break out the books.
By Stacey Kole for the University of Arizona Global Campus
Driscoll, E. (2013, August 28). Balancing Act: Tips for College Students to Manage Their Time. Retrieved November 20, 2015
Jacobs, L., & Hyman, J. (2009, October 14). Top 12 Time-Management Tips. U.S. News and World Report.
Lytle, R. (2012, March 22). 5 Apps That Can Help Students Manage College Life. U.S. News and World Report. Ross-Gordon, J. (n.d.). Research on Adult Learners: Supporting the Needs of a Student Population that Is No Longer Nontraditional. Retrieved November 20, 2015.