I was incredibly nervous to begin classes my freshman year of college. Despite doing well in high school and feeling pretty confident in my academic abilities, I knew university coursework would be more rigorous. I learned something pretty quickly, however: the work was doable, but managing my time and focusing on the important stuff was another beast.
Why was that? Well, a few reasons…
In high school, attendance was absolutely mandatory. In college, most professors view you as adults who can choose to show up or not.
In high school, you probably had a curfew and parents who expected you to do homework and go to bed at a decent hour. In college, you can treat every night like Saturday night if you desire.
In high school, all of your friends are on the same schedule. In college, you’ll often be heading to lecture as your best friend is heading to eat lunch, take a nap, or go do something fun.
In high school, you may have played a few sports and participated in a few clubs. In college, there are sports, clubs, Greek life, endless social events, and more. After all, you’re surrounded by thousands of young people and life is rarely boring.
In short, college requires a degree of self-motivation and prioritization that high school didn’t. No one is going to hold your hand and walk you to class, and there will always be something more fun than studying going on. That’s why it’s incredibly important to remember a few things when it comes to prioritizing your time.
Go to class.
Yes, even if you’d rather sleep in. Yes, even if all of your friends are hanging out without you. Yes, even if you’ve got an exam in a different course tomorrow. Go to class.
This is what I learned quickly: skipping class is harder than going to class. If lecture was an hour long, I’d spend two hours trying to gather the notes I missed and decipher what the heck they meant. When it came time to study for the final exam, the subjects I missed while playing hooky were always the ones I understood the least, so that extra study time added up. Once, my professor gave a pop quiz during a class I skipped and naturally I spent the following three days stressing about it. Trust me, it’s always easier to just suck it up and go to class.
Write everything down.
“I’ll remember that,” are the most foolish words to come out of a college student’s mouth. In college, you’ll always have a lot going on, and it’s incredibly easy to forget things. A planner will be your very best friend.
When you have all of your responsibilities written out, you’ll have an easier time prioritizing how to spend your time. See that essay due the morning after your roommate’s birthday? Get it done now, so you’re able to partake in the celebrations without sacrificing your work.
Remember, there is always something fun going on.
That isn’t a reason to skip class or blow off your homework. In fact, it’s the very reason you shouldn’t skip class or blow off your homework. When class is over and your work is done, there will still be something fun to do – I promise. Don’t let your GPA suffer because you skipped studying for the midterm so you could have a very forgettable night out at the bar. There are endless opportunities to socialize and let loose, but limited opportunities to ace that course.
Trust me, I know that it’s never pleasant to turn down invitations… but you’ll be so thankful you did when your final grades are posted. Put school at the top of your to-do list, and you’ll still have plenty (and I mean plenty) of opportunities to make memories outside of the classroom.