How to stay on track with school: study schedules

Studying can be a challenge in more ways than one, as any student knows.  One of the biggest issues is procrastinating on homework; this is where study schedules come in.  Not only do they help keep students from procrastinating, they also help to keep students on track with their homework.

Students should start with a schedule that plans out their entire day for a week in hourly segments. As this schedule is used, students can add incentives for keeping the schedule to avoid the temptation of procrastination. After a couple weeks, some students might find that just having planned times to work on specific classes is all that is needed.  “It is easy to put off studying, especially if you have other things that you would rather be doing,” says Marie Gambill, associate professor and coordinator of the Learning Skills Center and First Year Experience. “Making a study schedule is just like having a class schedule or work schedule that you follow. You know where you need to be and when.”

Aleta Campman is a student at Umpqua Community College who is currently working on her Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree. She says that schedules have helped her. “My schedule is pretty planned out for me. I have classes, and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I work full time. So, my schedule is trying to fit homework in between classes and work. I usually write down all that I have to do and their due dates. I then try to work on things that are due soonest.”

Something to keep in mind is that as the term progresses is to keep the schedule flexible.  Sit down on Sunday and spend 15 minutes to review the weeks deadlines by looking at the Canvas, this will help to keep the schedule flexible. “I allow the schedule to fluctuate with the load of work each class has for the week. I allow the schedule to change when a class becomes more or less difficult than I had at first determined, or if an exam or term paper are due that week,” says Stephen Cooksey who is currently working at UCC on completing general studies courses with a focus on history.

“Your schedule should be flexible enough to add or subtract where necessary. Don’t be so strict with it that you can’t exchange an hour or two for another time if something comes up,” Gambill says.  “If you micro manage every minute of your schedule, you may end up being burned out. This is a living document, meaning that you change it when it needs to be adjusted.”

To start creating a study schedule, students should make a 24-hour grid with the weekends.  “Put down the things that are unmovable such as class times, work times, sleep, and family. Then look at the times that you are the most alert. It doesn’t help to be studying when you are tired, if you can help it,” Gambill says. “Put down your study times, making sure that you study at least six days a week. Put the times throughout the week, not all at one time.  Start with one-hour increments. Realize that the best way to study is to study for 50 minutes and then take a ten-minute break.”

A simple Excel spreadsheet or a planner are good places to start making study schedules.  Students can find free study schedule templets online and Excel also offers free templets including planners and schedules. Students can also find apps for helping with their study schedules, such as having alarms for when to start studying.

Besides looking through class modules, students should check out two other places to get a good idea of how to lay out the schedule.  “The Canvas calendar is a good place to start. This will remind you of important upcoming due dates. I would also use the class syllabus as a reference. I use the calendar in my phone and computer,” Gambill says. “When I was in college, I used a planner that I looked at each morning and night. Once you get used to the schedule, you will have to refer to it less.”

Having a study schedule will help students to combat procrastination and help to keep them on track.  It is best to create a schedule before the term starts, so that students will not be caught off-guard with having to balance their new class and study times.  If they don’t have one yet, students may be thinking that they missed their chance to create one for this term. “It’s never too late to create a schedule,” Gambill says.  Now is the time to stop procrastinating.

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