Despite the negative stereotype of students as layabouts who sleep in till noon, drink too much, rarely attend lectures and hand in essays that they discovered on the Internet, studying for a degree actually involves a lot of hard work. Of course, there will always be some students who don’t make an effort and come away with poor grades and others who seem to breeze through their studies and obtain good grades without even trying. For everyone else, though, it is a matter of trying their hardest to obtain qualifications to be proud of. If you want to succeed at university you therefore have to learn to manage your time.
It can be quite difficult to practise time management when you’re living away from home for the first time and there is no one there to tell you what to do. You can stay out all night if you want and get drunk, although this kind of behaviour won’t exactly make studying for your degree any easier. Clearly, if you regularly go out drinking you are probably going to miss lectures and seminars because you’re too hung-over to get up in time for them. You could find that you miss out on vital information about essay writing and the reading that needs to be done.
You therefore have to establish a routine in which you prioritise study. You can still go out with friends, but you can’t go out every night and expect to get as much work done as you need to. Socialising should therefore be left to the weekend, so that you can use the rest of the week to do all the reading and writing that needs to be done. This will enable you to enjoy your free time more, as you won’t have to worry about whether you will be able to hand your essay in on time or not. Weekdays become your ‘work time’ and the weekend becomes your ‘play time’.
It helps to be flexible, though, since if you have an essay of 2,500 words to be written and you only have a week to do it, you may have to focus completely on reading, planning and writing your essay. To avoid finding yourself in the position of rushing essays it helps to have a calendar or diary where you can make a note of important dates. That way you will know well in advance that you have to meet a deadline, so that you don’t fall behind. This is important, as the only way you’re going to stay on top of your work load is if you are organised and manage your time effectively.