Photo: Kristen Smith
Between classes, Facebook, exercising and attempting to keep up one’s personal hygiene among other commitments and distractions, keeping everything straight can be a challenge for college students.
Last Tuesday night the department of academic excellence and student affairs put on an academic success seminar that focused on time management. About 100 students took a half-hour out of their nights to attend the seminar in Parents Hall.
Chrystal Stanley, professional and career development services and academic achievement coordinator, said the seminar was primarily for first-year students because transitioning to college life can cause students to struggle academically.
“Adjusting from the high school environment to the college environment can be very challenging for most first-year students because for the first time in their lives they have a lot of freedom,” Stanley said.
She said one of the questions she gets asked most often from first-year students is how to turn empty spots in their schedules into productive time.
“I’ve had students say to me, ‘I only have two classes on Monday, what do I do with the rest of my time?’ because they’re so used to having classes all day long,” Stanley said. “Having a lot of extra freedom is a wonderful thing but sometimes having that much extra time can cause people to procrastinate, and that’s where efficient scheduling really helps.”
Michelle Laughlin, director of student disability services and co-presenter of the night, urged students to make a physical schedule. She said physical schedules help students stay on top of assignments.
Laughling asked the crowd of students, “When are you most likely going to start writing a paper?” Most students voiced that they would start the night before the paper is due or even the day of.
Laughlin said having a term schedule, or a “work-back” schedule, will help students break down projects into smaller tasks and determine which tasks should be higher up on the list of priorities.
“Come up with a schedule for the whole term,” Laughlin said. “Go through each syllabus and put in exams, papers and classes.”
She encouraged students to use different colors for different classes and to set goals to get assignments done well before they are due.
Stanley said it does not matter what type of calendar students use as long as it keeps them organized.
“If you’re more likely to use paper and pencil, and if you like crossing things off as you go, use paper and pencil,” she said. “If you’re someone who likes the reminders that come with an online calendar, such as Google calendar or iCal, use that. It’s all about finding your personal preference.”
John Mcmahon, a first-year student and football player, said he found the tips throughout the seminar to be helpful.
“I definitely think it will help with my time management,” Mcmahon said. “The thing I’ll remember the most is how much time you have to spend on each thing in your schedule.”
Like Mcmahon, many of the students who attended the seminar were athletes.
Anthony Binion, director of student athlete success, said academic seminars are especially important for athletes because it helps them adjust to balancing two important schedules: their academic schedules and their sports schedules.
“It’s important to have good time management skills because athletes have a huge demand on their time as far as practice, as well as games, and then more importantly their academic schedule,” Binion said.
Binion said first-year athletes can become overwhelmed easily if they are not prepared to fulfill higher expectations both in the classroom and on the field.
“Many times they don’t understand it’s a big difference from being successful in high school and being successful in college,” he said. “But they need to learn to use these tools because they will be what students need to remain successful throughout their careers here at Drake.
Stanley said one of the biggest things she wanted all students to take away from the seminar was knowing how to manage all aspects of their schedules.
“I want students to understand the importance of small portions of time that they have during the day instead of focusing all of their study time in the evening,” she said.
Stanley advised students to not try to take on too many tasks at once. She also stressed that it is important for students to remember to take time out of their days to reward themselves.
“It’s tempting to become over-involved, but students should know that it’s OK to say ‘no’ to some things, especially your first semester,” Stanley said. “What’s interesting about what we present is it’s not rocket science. Everyone sitting in the room tonight already knew most of this, they just need the reminder every once in a while.”
The department of academic excellence and student affairs will hold another academic success seminar on Aug. 30 at 6:30 p.m. in Parents Hall. The seminar will focus on teaching students study skills that will help them at the college level.
Answers to the “Test yourself” questions:
1. You should spend 2-3 hours preparing for every hour in class.
2. Facebook is the biggest time-waster for college students.
3. The typical college student spends 24.5 hours per week on Facebook. They only spend 23.1 hours in class and studying combined each week.