Time Management

by Margaret Prothero

Students often expect to do the impossible: work 30-40 hours a week, have a social life, and carry 12 or more units.  Sharing the information below may help them manage their time more effectively.  Copy the information that is applicable for your students.  

Quite frankly, this is asking for trouble. You may feel it's possible, and during the first few weeks of the semester, it may be. But then the first homework is due, and shortly after a paper and three midterms are due. Then come more papers and more midterms, and around the twelfth week of the semester-long after the drop deadline-it seems the only thing to do is vanish. Many students vanish. The only grade they can receive is an F. Sometimes, a vanished student may return on the last day of the class and ask for an Incomplete, but that's not what the incomplete is for, and the student cannot be obliged.

Why put yourself through this? College is difficult enough without adding so much stress to your life. Here is a recommendation of how to arrange a reasonable schedule of work and school:

In Class
Study Time
* For this formula, "work" is defined as any regularly occurring activity that prevents students from either attending class or studying. This includes, but is not limited to:
Work-with or without pay
Family Responsibilities
Child Care
Athletic Practice
Travel Time
Social Life


Few people can sustain a long-term commitment to excellence if their fixed-time commitments exceed 54 hours per week. (Notice that the chart doesn't include emergencies like going to jail or having your car die or your house burglarized. These things also happen, and they take up time.) On the chart opposite, fill in the hours that are already devoted to "work." List how many units you are taking, add the estimated study time and see what your total is. Start the semester by making wise decisions regarding your time management.
Time Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
7:30 - 8:30              
8:30 - 9:30              
9:30 - 10:30              
10:30 - 11:30              
11:30 - 12:30              
12:30 - 1:30              
1:30 - 2:30              
2:30 - 3:30              
3:30 - 4:30              
4:30 - 5:30              
5:30 - 6:30              
6:30 - 7:30              
8:30 -              


Standards and Tips for Your Success as a College Student

Succeeding at school is not a matter of luck, but a matter of attitude, practice and organization. Here is a list of practices successful students follow. If you do these things, you will do better at school.

  1. Attend classes regularly, be on time, and stay for the entire class period. You can't really learn the material a class offers if you're not there. If your schedule is such that you will miss classes regularly (for instance, if they conflict with athletic practice), drop the class and take another. In any class, attendance is absolutely vital to get the instruction and practice you need to succeed.

    Missed classes cannot be made up, and you will lose points for each absence. If you are more than five minutes late to class or leave more than five minutes early, you are absent. Sleeping during class counts as an absence. Schedule appointments outside of class hours. Anticipate obstacles to getting to class on time and plan for them. Parking is a good example. It always takes longer to find a parking space than you think it will.
  2. Review your syllabus regularly. Nothing is more frustrating than missing an assignment just because you didn't look at the syllabus. Know what is expected of you and ask questions if you don't understand the assignment. Be aware of long-range assignments so that you can balance your workload in all your classes. Always carry a date planner where you can note assignments and due dates.
  3. Complete all assignments on time. Assignments usually are not accepted late.
  4. Come prepared with all necessary materials. Be in the classroom at the time class starts with a notebook open and pen in hand. Buy the textbooks immediately and bring to each class meeting. If you are unable to buy the book because of financial reasons, see the Financial Aid office about an emergency loan. If you are unable to buy the book because there are none left in the bookstore, inform the instructor. Always bring your book to class.
  5. Take Notes on anything you don't already know how to do. You will always be asked to apply what you learn in your writing assignments and exams. Be sure to have clear notes for reference.
  6. Participate in class activities. Small group and whole class discussions are important parts of any class. What you say will help others, and what others say will help you. Turn cell phones, pagers, etc., while in class. Talking to other students while someone is trying to speak or doing other activities not related to the class has a negative influence on classroom interaction.
  7. Take advantage of office hours. This time is set aside for you to contact the professor if you need help with an assignment or if you have questions or problems you need to discuss. If you are unavailable during the teacher's office hours, ask for an appointment at another time. Professors welcome the opportunity to get to know you better and to spend time one on one with you and the course material!
  8. Take responsibility for your education. The real difference between K-12 and college is that elementary and high schools expect you to be passive and college expects you to be active.
  9. Excuses don't solve problems. In fact, they often make things worse. If you have a problem, talk to the teacher or support services about it. If you need advice on financial aid, health services, etc., you may consult your Student Planning Guide or your teacher for referral. You are attending college to achieve your personal and professional goals. Don't let anything get in the way of your success.
  10. If you are registered with DSPS, let the instructor know right away so that they can determine if any special arrangements need to be made.

Study Tips

  1. Plan, at first, at least two hours of study time for each hour of class time. It may be that you will need to revise this later, either for more time or less.
  2. Schedule regular study times that stay basically the same from week to week. Establishing definite study hours will help you succeed in college.
  3. Plan at least one-hour blocks of study time. It often takes time to "warm up" during a study session. Don't try to study during commercial breaks or while you're watching TV; it's a waste of time. Don't plan on studying "in the cracks" when you have unexpected free time. They may not occur.
  4. Reward yourself for using study time effectively. For example, you might allow yourself a telephone call, a television show, a movie, or a snack after a period of study. You can also give yourself "mini-rewards" of 5 to 10 minutes of free time for every hour of study time.
  5. Try to schedule study periods before and after classes. If you study while the information is still fresh in your mind, the studying will be easier, and you'll remember it better.
  6. Work on your most difficult subjects when you are most alert. Studying at 2 in the morning, after getting home from work and you are exhausted, is wasted time. The material won't sink in.
  7. Balance your activities. Allow time for family friends, sports, entertainment, etc., in your schedule.
  8. Make your schedule realistic, so you are not always finding yourself with emergencies or crises that cause you to eliminate study time. This is a bad habit, one that is easy to get into.

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