College Student Probs: How to Have a Smooth Semester

Juggling an 18-hour semester and other commitments –and sustaining a social life- has led me to hone my time-managing skills more than ever. Although I have more commitments than before, I still have free time and am no more stressed than when I didn’t have as many obligations.

Whether you think you’re doing okay, struggle with getting things done on time, or know you should do better but lack motivation, I’d like to share some things that have been extremely helpful to me in making the semester –specifically, classes-smoother and bearable. They may add some hours to your day:

• Use a planner- It can be a notepad, agenda, or phone app. The important thing is that you can organize your thoughts and look ahead to future assignments and other things you don’t want to forget, like grocery items to buy or a friend’s birthday. It also feels good to cross out or delete items once you complete them.

• Do the easy things first- Let’s say you have three assignments; one is busy work that will take 15 minutes, the other is a 20-page reading assignment, and the third is a packet of calculus problems. Let’s also say that the calculus problems will be the most challenging and time consuming for you. If you tackle these problems first, you’ll be a little worn out by the time you try to get to the other assignments. Instead, start with the easiest and knock those out first. That way, you don’t feel like you have that much left to do since you’re moving fairly quickly. Also, if you do run out of time, you would have less you didn’t do, instead of things you know you could have done like simple busy work.

• Work on projects a few days before they’re due- Never put off a project until the night before it’s due—or the day it’s due for that matter. Make sure you read directions in advance so that you can ask the professor any questions you have. Then you can feel more confident about what you’re doing. Also, separate portions of the project you’ll work on throughout a few days. It feels like less work, and it gives you goals to work toward for that day.

• Make outlines for papers- Try to write the thesis or main argument for the paper and three reasons to back it up as proof. Then, write the paper. This way, you’ll have a layout and you won’t lose your focus as much.

• Divide reading assignments- If you have 50 pages to read, if possible, read 25 pages throughout two days. Now that’s much more doable.

• Master skimming pages- They never taught you this before college, did they? A lot of times, you can get the gist of most readings by focusing in on sentences that seem like the main points; try to think of what the professor may ask if he/she were to quiz you on the reading and spend more time focusing on those sections instead of every single sentence.