A common tendency among college freshmen is to overcommit during the first semester. Between classes, clubs, intramural sports, and making new friends, you may find yourself strapped for time as classes pick up speed and exams roll around. Here are a few tips to help you manage your time and avoid end of semester burnout.
Screen Extra-Curricular Activities Before Joining
At the beginning of the year, your school will likely offer an activities fair featuring an endless supply of exciting clubs and sports for you to choose from. In the first week, when your class schedule is light, go to as many club and sports meetings as you can to find the best fits. After you get a taste for each of these activities, narrow your list to the top one or two (or three at most) and sign-up. While extra-curricular activities are important, juggling five extracurriculars alongside a full time course load is a recipe for burnout. If you do find yourself with extra free time, keep in mind that you can always add more activities during your second semester.
Try a Scheduling App
During your first semester it’s extremely important to keep track of commitments and set aside time for schoolwork. Without a schedule, it can be easy to procrastinate and later on find yourself pulling all-nighters. After a few weeks of class you’ll get a sense for how much time each class requires and be able to plan your schedule accordingly. There are a number of scheduling apps on the market, but Studious is particularly useful for college students. Studious keeps track of your class schedule, exam dates, and project deadlines all in one place. The app works like an alarm clock, alerting you with reminders for all of your entries. You can even choose how and when you’re notified to avoid alarms sounding during class. You can download the app for free in the Google Play store or for $0.99 on iTunes.
Know When to Ask for Help
Even with careful planning, sometimes your workload can become overwhelming. It’s commonplace for first-year students to feel stressed and overwhelmed or have trouble prioritizing piles of work. If you experience any of this, consider seeking out a peer tutor, joining a help session for one or more of your classes, or asking your professor for some advice and counsel. Remember, you’re not alone. And it’s always a good idea to spend a little one-on-one time with a professor.
While somewhat counterintuitive, taking breaks is one of the most important ways to stay productive. First-semester students often feel like they should stay busy all the time, but very few people can keep up that type of schedule. Everyone needs time to rest and take a break from schoolwork and other commitments to recharge. Spend time with friends, form some long-lasting relationships, and explore campus or the surrounding town or city. And remember to get enough sleep! Many college students forgo sleep in order to find more time to study or spend time with friends, but getting the right amount of sleep is invaluable to your overall mood, efficiency, and grades.
About the Author: Tarun Chally is a sophomore at Washington University double majoring in Computer Science and Economics with a minor in Mathematics. He is currently interning at peerTransfer, and during his free time enjoys golf, video games, and building his own gaming app.