One of the biggest challenges college freshmen can face is the change of structure from being a high school student to college student. You need to be able to keep up with many different deadlines, assignments, and exams independently, which could feel a bit different than high school. There won't be as many reminders and guidance as you were used to in high school. Time management is one of the most important skills for students entering college and I have a few tips on how I manage my time and keep up with assignments on my own here at UMass Amherst.
1. Write Everything Down
Whether it be in a real planner, a calendar app on your phone, or on a sticky note, writing down what you have to do that day or week in terms of assignments, homework, and studying can really help you manage everything.
Personally, I use the calendar app on my computer as well as the app “Stickies,” which are virtual sticky notes that appear on my Macbook’s desktop. I make sure to write down all of the deadlines I have on my calendar, as well as homework I have for each class on one of the virtual sticky notes! This works great for me because everyday I am opening and using my laptop, so I am always reminded of what I need to get done and by when. Without writing everything down I would never be able to remember which class has homework due when, and when my next exams are.
2. Sunday "Double-Check"
The next thing I do to stay on top of everything is I go through each of my classes and write down what I have to do that week on Sunday. I open each class on Moodle or Blackboard, and go through and double check if I have an exam that week, a paper due, or a homework that’s due. This way I feel prepared for my week and can start thinking about when I’m going to do each assignment or study.
I like to do this little check on Sunday because it’s the beginning of the week, and I can feel ready to take on that week and not have to worry about what I could be forgetting or missing on Monday morning.
3. Stay On-Campus and Study
Another thing I like to do to keep me motivated and on time is stay on-campus to complete my homework or to study. After class I sometimes find myself going back to my dorm and laying in my bed or getting super easily distracted. To prevent this, I like to find a spot to study that’s not my room. Some great places here at UMass are the library, the Integrative Learning Center, South College, the Isenberg Hub, and tons more. When I sit down to study or do homework at one of those places I feel more motivated to get my work done and less distracted.
4. Stay Healthy and Balanced
To me, the most important thing in staying productive and on top of things is making time for myself and staying healthy mentally and physically. Whatever staying healthy means to you — whether it be going to the gym, staying mentally healthy by doing something you enjoy, or eating right — it’s super important to set aside time for YOU. When your brain feels fried from studying, take a break and hang out with friends or watch a TV show. Set aside time at night to watch a movie or head to the Rec Center to work out or take a fun workout class. Be sure to make time for whatever it is you enjoy doing outside of your schoolwork!