Welcome to College:
Time Management 101
By Sam, age 18, Massachusetts
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
Welcome to College
2. Social Life
This was the sign pinned to the wall of the common room in my dorm suite. And, believe it or not, it has turned out to be ridiculously accurate.
What many incoming freshmen don't realize is that college isn't just another four years of school. College is an environment and lifestyle completely its own, and many freshmen get lost in the hustle and bustle.
The first thing new college students should do is GO TO CLASS. Most professors will have a "no questions asked" policy for one or two missed classes. It may seem like a blessing to sleep through that 7:00 am physics class with Boring McBoringston, but if you try to plan your semester around which classes you can miss when, you'll only be setting yourself up for a major academic disaster. It's the same when it comes to review days. Professors will usually set aside a specific day before a midterm or final to go over what has been previously learned in class. And while these may seem like "Get Out of Class Free" cards, because you're not learning anything new, reviews are extremely helpful. The review class is the last chance you have to ask your professor questions on material you might not fully understand.
One of the best things a college student can do to keep up academically is becoming best friends with their syllabi. A syllabus is an overall schedule of the entire course. It dictates when homework assignments and papers are due and when tests take place. A syllabus can also tell you how your grade in the class is organized, so you can figure out upon which assignments you should focus the bulk of your effort. By keeping the syllabi of all your classes accessible, you can easily organize the amount of time you need to study, and then use the rest of your day to relax or hang out with friends.
While we wish this part of academia had merely stayed back in high school, homework does exist in college. In fact, most of the homework professors assign involves a lot of reading, sometimes even whole chapters of textbooks. It's therefore best to not leave this reading for the end of the day. If it's almost 3 o'clock in the morning and you still have 40 pages of Prof. Johnson's History of British Literature to read, not only will you probably fall asleep while trying to finish it, but you'll also likely forget everything you've read (and therefore be unable to participate in the graded class discussion the next day). My advice is to plan specific parts of your day to do homework. If you know most of your friends have a class from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, get some reading out of the way while they're in class. Or, better yet, schedule "study parties" with your friends where you can all get together and do homework.
Homework and tests aside, college is a fantastic place to be. They don't call it the best four years of your life for nothing. But if you don't explore what's out there, you could be spending four years cooped up in your dorm room. Join a club or an intramural sports team. Check out a student produced play or go to that frat party everyone's been talking about. Find a spot on campus where you and your friends can hang out for hours on end. College is a wild experience. You're there to learn, but you're also there to live. So, make sure you balance study time with some fun time. Just don't get too carried away. Partying is fun, but if you're spending five out of seven nights gallivanting until 5 o'clock in the morning, your studies (i.e. the #1 reason you're going to college) are bound to suffer.
Sleeping is a very underappreciated part of the college lifestyle. Sleep is important. Very important. A college student should always try to keep a regular sleep cycle. This might seem impossible, with the cramming and the partying and all the stuff you have to do, but it's important to try. It's also best to avoid all-nighters. They might seem fun at first, but in the long run you will be overtired and miserable for twice as long as you stayed awake. Aim to get at least six hours of sleep every night. Seven or eight would be better, but aim for at least six. Trust me, your brain will thank you.
Weekends in college are a blessing. They offer 48 hours to do whatever you want, so don't take them for granted. You might think you want to party Friday and Saturday night until dawn and then sleep until 3 o'clock in the afternoon the next day, but you know, deep down, that's a bad idea. If you want to do something on both Friday and Saturday night, try and get all of your "serious" work out of the way as soon as possible, so it doesn't get in the way later on. Either that or expect to spend all day on Sunday doing homework.
College is a wonderful experience. But if you aren't careful you can overexert yourself and end up in a destructive whirlwind. You must balance what you want to do with what you have to do. Remember, you're paying to go to school, so you should try and get an experience out of college that's worth the money you're putting into it.