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As the second semester of the academic year begins at Arizona State University, many freshmen are facing the reality that they need to build up an important skill for college life: time management.
Many freshmen are overwhelmed by the unstructured nature of the semester, according to Sarah Bennett, an associate director at University Academic Success Programs.
Bennett runs time-management workshops for students, and this time of year she often works with freshmen who are on academic probation.
“Many students are used to having somebody say, ‘Don’t forget this homework is due on Friday.’ In high school, your teachers are reminding you about assignments and you have your family asking you, ‘Have you started working on this?’ ”
But not in college.
“For a lot of students, that’s a shock,” she said.
Some honor students can be susceptible to time-management issues because in high school, they didn’t have to spend a lot of time studying to get good grades, Bennett said.
“If they didn’t have to put in a lot of effort, they don’t realize the amount of time it takes to study for a course,” she said. “That time element is something new for them.”
Bennett said much of the advice in her workshops is common sense.
“But when they’re actually hearing it from somebody, it can be enough to get them to change their habits.”
Here are some of Bennett’s tips for managing time:
1. Go to class. Bennett said that many students don’t realize the impact that attending class has on their long-term success in courses. She’s now working with students who failed the one-credit introductory courses in their college because they believed it was so easy, they didn’t need to go.
2. Turn in all assignments on time. Too often students think the “little” assignments do not matter, she said. Points for assignments quickly add up, and students are surprised when they end up with a B in a class after getting all A’s on the exams, simply because they did not turn in the homework.
3. Map out study time. The general rule is two hours of study and homework time for every one hour of class per week. Treat study time like a class.
4. Study smarter. The amount of time recommended to study and do homework can seem overwhelming, so students should break it down into smaller chunks. Spend 15 minutes between classes rereading lecture notes from the previous class. The material will be fresh, and additional notes and questions can be added.
5. Put all due dates in your calendar. As soon as they get their syllabi, students need to write down all due dates for all assignments for all courses in the same place, Bennett said, noting that students should never be surprised by an assignment.
Students can get quick help with that last tip, thanks to a fellow ASU student who invented an app for that.
Last semester, Tad Crother, a senior who is majoring in business sustainability, launched Shlacker, a free app that automatically populates the user’s calendar with assignment due dates based on ASU course syllabi.
He thought up the idea when he was a freshman and had to manually input every class assignment date into his laptop.
“I was wishing there was something that could do it for me,” he said. “But I don’t have a tech background at all so it took me a year to acquaint myself with the tech industry.”
Crother learned some coding but ultimately outsourced the development and was able to release the free app in 2017. It was downloaded nearly 2,000 times.
“It started out as a hobby more than anything else,” he said. “The more I learned, the more excited I got.”
Crother had to practice time management himself. In addition to developing Shlacker, he’s a full-time student and also works in marketing and event operations for Uber.
“The app didn’t feel like work because I was excited about it,” he said. “I spent all my free time on it.”
Crother said that students have told him the app is helpful in remembering to study for upcoming tests.
“And being able to realize a couple of days out that you have an assignment due means you’ll never miss one,” he said.
“Missing just one assignment can change an entire letter grade.”
Top photo courtesy of Pixabay.