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Time Management in College vs. High School

High school is busy. Between homework, club involvement, sports, band, show choir, the school musical, attending sporting events, and keeping up a solid social presence, the high school lifestyle can be hectic. But college? College is busier.

There is a general understanding that for every 1 hour of class time, there should be 3 hours’ worth of homework. Add to that: making new friends, finding your way around campus, trying out all sorts of new clubs,  extracurriculars, participating in sports or intramurals, doing your own laundry, and adjusting to a new overall lifestyle. Yeah, college is pretty hectic too. But plenty of people make the adjustment and quickly learn that their college years will be some of the best years of their life. College is fun. Fun and busy. So how can you expedite the adjustment from high school to college so you can stop “barely surviving” and start thriving?

  1. Time Management

Properly managing your time is key to thriving in college. Time management involves having a good schedule and sticking to it.  How can you best manage your time in college?

  • Organization

Get yourself a good planner – the bigger, the better — and keep track of your non-recurring calendar events there (I’ve had both large 8x11 planners and mini book-sized planners, and I’ve found the larger planners work better for me, but honestly it is up to you what size you want to get).

  • Set a Schedule

For your recurring events (i.e. classes, weekly meetings, a set work schedule), make a table or spreadsheet where you can block off sections of your day where you have those commitments. That way, you’ll have a visual of what your days/weeks are going to look like throughout the semester. I’ve done this every semester while I’ve been in college and it’s been a huge help since every day of the week in college is so variable.

  • Viewable Reminders

A schedule is only useful if you can look at it frequently. Make sure whatever schedule you’re using is within easy viewable reach for you. Try taping a weekly schedule on the inside cover of your planner or setting virtual calendar reminders on your phone. Anything you can do to keep your schedule front and center.

  1. Map Out Your Goals

Once you’ve got your weekly set-in-stone commitments mapped out, take a look at the areas where you have free time. College is more than just school work. Write in other things you want to accomplish throughout the week, month, and year.

Not all of these goals have to be super serious. For example, try outlining simple things like times to workout, planned nap times (yes, this is a thing in college…you have way more free time during the day than you do in high school, and chances are, you probably stayed up late the night before), time to grab lunch with friends, etc. Of course include the important things like study time for specific classes or time devoted to work on projects, but make sure to bake in time for the fun stuff too. It’ll help keep you on track with everything academic-related if you build in times for some breaks too.

Once you’ve got your week mapped out, it’s easy to keep up with all the commitments you thought were important enough to add to your schedule. This is an easy way to keep on task throughout the week and not fall behind in classes amid a hectic academic, athletic, work, and social schedule. With proper planning ahead of time, you won’t feel as stressed in the midst of your busy life.

College is often portrayed as an impossible balancing act between sleep, a social life, and classes; you can choose only two, and the third one suffers. In reality, you can definitely create a healthy balance between all three. This just requires some careful planning and time management. Now, go get yourself a good planner, make your schedule, and start thriving!