Dealing with college life, handling a part-time job, attending classes and keeping up with class assignments is never easy. Few students find the workload simple to manage. While you probably like to believe that you’re smarter than most students, you don’t have superpowers even if you wish that you do! To get a better idea of how to manage the strain of the different activities pulling on your time, we’ve put together this article to help you.
Managing Work and College Life
Managing work life when you’re already in college is tough. Depending on what kind of work you do, there are different degrees of flexibility about work shifts and how these may impact your class schedule, study time, or personal life.
While it’s not always easy to get a job that’s flexible enough for your college needs, it’s critical that college work comes first. If you’re working so many hours to make ends meet that you end up missing classes, losing sleep, or skipping study sessions, lower grades will be the likely result.
Try to switch to part-time work with a more flexible schedule. That’s also the case if you find the type of work you’re currently doing to be too physically or mentally demanding. Not all jobs are the same in this regard.
Get Your Time Management Under Control
Being lackadaisical when it comes to time management isn’t going to work. It’s necessary to schedule your time in 15-minute segments, so it’s clear exactly where you’re supposed to be and what activity you’ll be undertaking in each time slot.
While being this strict with your timekeeping doesn’t come naturally to most students, the reality is that it’ll be difficult to fit everything into the college week otherwise. So, once you have a plan, stick to it.
Use Google Calendar to book out the time in your day. Set reminders in your phone to keep you on track for what you must do next. Also, schedule in downtime during each day to get some recovery. This is helpful to stay alert and focused in classes.
Some students choose to consume energy drinks or coffee for the caffeine kick. That can work, but it is also a bit addicting. If you end up needing it in the evenings to get through work shifts, it’ll be difficult to sleep when the day is finally over.
Never Skip Classes or Coursework
Each class for a given subject builds on what came before it. Missing or skipping a class intentionally makes it difficult to keep up with that subject. Be absent for enough classes and not only will your attendance record begin to suffer, but your grades will probably fall too. This will happen because you won’t know what you’ve missed.
Don’t rely on other students’ notes to catch up on the missed class. Catching up won’t be easy to do when already having a full day. If you felt that there wasn’t enough time or energy before, what makes you think you’ll have great energy or extra time later to maintain the original schedule and spend extra time in catch-up mode?
While avoiding falling behind is a solid plan, the exception to this is if you got sick and couldn’t attend classes. In which case, ask the faculty to provide notes for classes that you’ve missed. Some classes now come with accompanying notes or video clips which can be helpful.
What to Do If You’re Falling Behind
Falling behind due to illness, absence or not fully understanding the subject matter covered is a serious matter. Depending on what the difficulty is, it can sometimes be covered at college but other times, it cannot.
For instance, when missing some classes, the notes provided might be insufficient, leaving you with more questions than you can get answers. Alternatively, perhaps the subject is just too confusing right now and the lecturer doesn’t have the extra time to explain complicated topics again so you can fully understand them.
In these kind of situations, you’re quickly hitting a wall where the class moves onto more advanced topics and as a student, you’re adrift. The longer that continues, the worse the problem will become until it’s unrecoverable.
What’s the solution?
If you cannot get further assistance from the college, then getting private tutoring is the next option. Here you can be taught privately and confidentially online by someone who already understands the subject matter. They can explain it from a different perspective – sometimes in less of an academic manner – that is more readily understood.
A company like Superprof, which has a network of many thousands of tutors, is a great solution to solve knowledge gaps before they become catastrophic for your education progress.
Use Outsourcing, Batching or Cooperative Agreements
Dealing with chores and other regular tasks when you’ve got a crazy schedule is a difficult thing to manage. Other students often have the same problems as you, which is useful to remember.
There are different approaches to this problem. Here we cover three ways to deal with them:
Batching involves doing the task less frequently, pulling several batches of these tasks or chores together, and then completing them all at once.
The central idea with batching is to avoid the stop/start nature with your studies. Having to keep stopping to take care of nitty gritty details is a major distraction making it harder to finish studying on time. By stopping less frequently, more information can be retained, and you can close in for the night earlier too.
Be aware that some tasks can be batched more easily than others.
Outsourcing is the idea of removing the task from your schedule completely and giving it to someone else who usually does it for a fee.
While money is tight for most students, if the task doesn’t take much skill, or need you to be there in person, then it might not be too expensive to outsource.
A cooperative agreementis a deal made between two or more people. This could be a fellow student who agrees to do the laundry in exchange for your cooking on certain nights. If they’re a wiz with the washer, dryer and iron and you enjoy time spending time in the dorm kitchen, then it’s a good deal.
Cooperative agreements only tend to work as long as all parties are happy with the arrangement. Sometimes, it’s necessary to sweeten the pot. Maybe not by much, but when it seems like one side is getting a better end of the deal, then a little money can redress that perceived (or real) imbalance.
To be a great student, it’s not only necessary to have a brilliant mind. You also must be a good organiser, patient with what you find difficult to grasp, ask for help when it’s needed, and know when changes are required. When you become overwhelmed, the quicker you accept that things must be switched around, the better. This prevents falling too far behind and avoids getting into a funk that’s difficult to escape once you’re there. Given that college life is more of a marathon than it is a sprint, finding the right balance is very important to avoid burnout.