Time management is a skill that students need to hone right from the start of their careers as undergraduates, regardless of the field of study they are entering. In some ways, work ethic and drive are fundamental and critical traits of successful college students, but without time management skills, those characteristics might not shine through. As an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati’s Bachelor of Radiation Science Technology program, you will want to combine time management skills that are necessary for every student, as well as those who are a bit more tailored and specific to an online learning environment.
Let’s discuss some of the winning time management strategies to excel in this program and avoid as much stress as possible in the process, as well as what defines this skill in undergraduate education.
Recognizing the Difference of College
Cengage reported that in its 2015 Student Engagement Insights survey, 53 percent of undergraduate student respondents stated they find time management to be more difficult in college than in high school. At the same time, the organization pointed out that an overwhelming majority of these students – 88 percent – cited adjustments to their time management routines after beginning their undergraduate careers. Some of the reasons why students had to make serious adjustments were the increased freedom and more challenging workloads, as well as increased diversity of responsibilities and tasks to juggle on a daily basis.
These challenges require a heightened level of discipline and planning to overcome, as well as an understanding of some of the tricks and methods students who have excelled subscribed to when they were undergraduates. Cengage recommended taking workshops in time management through the school, as they are often offered by universities, especially to incoming freshmen, while also ensuring that the daily routine is structured but has enough flexibility to change when random, unexpected tasks or time-consuming matters sprout up.
Understanding the Common Breakdown of Time
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released a survey in 2015 that mapped out the general breakdown of time use among undergraduate students, both full-time and part-time in an average weekday. Here are some of the highlights:
- The average full-time college student will spend about 3.5 hours on educational activities in a given weekday.
- A combined 3.2 hours are devoted to getting ready for school, traveling to and from class, and eating.
- Work will take up about 2.3 hours each weekday.
- Leisure and sports takes up the second-most time at 4 hours, standing only behind sleep which accounts for 8.8 hours.
- The most amount of school work completed for both full-time and part-time students took place between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
When looking at this breakdown, it become clear that students will only have about 3.5 hours on average available to devote to class, homework and relevant activities, which is not a tremendous amount of time. As such, making the most of those 3.5 hours will be vital, and only achievable with the right time management skills.
It is worth noting that in a wholly online undergraduate program like UC BRST, travel will not be necessary, adding about 1.4 hours of much-needed wiggle room in a given day. Given that the program is as academically rigorous as on-campus courses, the extra flexibility offered by online-only may provide relief for busy schedules. Students can balance personal duties with professional and academic ones and attend class when it works best for them.
The Block Approach
One of the more common approaches to time management many students will take is to break their days down into blocks of time. For example, there might be an hour block for studying before a particular exam comes up, then a half hour space for eating, followed by two hours dedicated to reading or group meetings. Study Guides and Strategies recommends mapping out a week’s worth of days through this block strategy, balancing firm timelines with a little bit of flexibility to adjust when necessary, and then going through those five school days in accordance with the decided-upon schedule.
After that week is complete, the source recommended looking back and seeing how well it worked out, then making whichever changes are necessary to make the following week a bit smoother and more comfortable. In a wholly online setting, this can also be a very effective exercise, as sticking to a routine throughout the undergraduate experience is vital regardless of whether the student is going into class every day or logging on to the relevant educational portals.
Priorities and To-do’s
Priority management is extremely important, and can be challenging for a young student just entering into a collegiate environment. Even if the aforementioned block approach to time management does not pan out, the planning and scheduling aspects of the strategy need to be adhered to by all students. Rather than creating blocks, students can also simply draw up priority lists and to-do’s, then follow the plans throughout each school week.
Webster University suggests students break priorities down into three distinct groups: a weekly plan, daily to-do lists and rolling objectives that can change throughout a semester and tend to focus on monthly projects. This approach might be especially useful when trying to avoid the trap of trying to cram far too much work into a very slim time frame, as it allows the student to focus one task at a time. The school pointed out that to be successful with this particular time management strategy, the student will need to be very realistic regarding how much time each task takes, while not allowing distractions to throw off the schedule and keeping to priority lists closely rather than going out of order.
Online Undergraduate-specific Tips
Students who will be in a wholly online undergraduate program will want to stick to some of the suggestions listed above, but also need to be mindful of the more unique demands that accompany this form of education. U.S. News and World Report offers the following guidance to online undergraduates:
- Avoid procrastinating, which can be difficult given the more extreme flexibility of coursework in these arrangements.
- Complete school work when logging on to do so, rather than being distracted by other activities on the web.
- Keep an open line of communication with instructors, proctors and others.
- Only complete school work in spaces conducive to concentration, rather than busy parks or loud coffee shops.
By combining these suggestions with the time management strategy that best suits you, you will have a more comfortable and successful career as an undergraduate. Remember, the best plan will always be the product of trial and error, and should be customized to your particular style of learning and working.