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Are we full-time students … or full-time babysitters?

By Hayley Toivanen, 4th-year English major

Sometimes I think that managing five courses at university is like babysitting five children. On the weekend, you finish all your history readings for the week ahead as if you’ve crooned the baby to sleep.

But wait! The curious toddler, analogous to your English essay, has climbed up onto the stair railing and is leaning precariously to the edge. If you don’t spend time writing those a thousand words soon, your English grade will teeter from an A to a B. Meanwhile, Mathematics, Philosophy, and Religion are pulling at your pant legs, wanting your attention.

It’s hard to keep all five children entertained, fed and happy, just like it’s hard to balance five courses and do well. Here are some tips to organize your day so that you find enough time to keep all of your courses, and more importantly yourself, healthy and happy.

1. The 9 to 5 work day: Being a full-time student is like working at a full-time job. Try to build time for homework and studying around your class schedule, so that your day, roughly from 9am to 5pm, is dedicated to schoolwork. If you have an hour break between classes, go to the library and start your readings. If you have a meeting later in the afternoon, pack your homework and stay on campus for the day instead of going home in between. Making use of this in-between or “found time” means that you have the flexibility to take the evening off.

2. Wake up an hour earlier in the morning: This tip has saved me many times from arriving to class unprepared. Any day that you don’t have an 8:30 class, don’t sleep in but wake-up to complete some homework. This could be finishing off the tasks that fell off your to-do list the night before, or getting on early start on homework due in the week ahead. I would much rather come home after a day of classes knowing I’ve already put in an hour of homework, than have it waiting for me in the evening when I want to relax or spend time with friends..

3. Keep a four-month calendar: I hang a calendar showing the four months of the semester on the wall beside my desk, so that I can see the bigger picture of the weeks ahead. When I get my syllabuses, I mark in all the due dates and test dates for all my classes, so they don’t sneak up on me! Having this calendar outline, I can see which classes will require more attention and time on the weeks that assignments are due.

With these tips in hand, I can usually keep my five courses from falling off the edge (although, during final essay or mid-term season, they all start wailing loudly). Divide up your time accordingly to give all your classes some loving care, but first and foremost, remember to take care of your own well-being.

If you want more help with prioritizing or making a weekly schedule to manage your time, don’t hesitate to stop by the Learning Strategies office, located in room 143 in Stauffer library.

Or just check out our online resources!

Photo courtesy of David Michalczuk under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.