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Hints on Planning a Better Schedule

The effectiveness of your time schedule will depend on the care with which you plan it. Careful consideration of these points will help you make a schedule which you can control and which will work for you.

  1. Plan a schedule of balanced activities. College life has many aspects, which are very important to success. Some have fixed time requirements and some are flexible. Some of the most common which you must consider are:
 FIXED: Eating, organization, classes, church, work
 FLEXIBLE: Sleeping, personal affairs, recreation, relaxation, study
  2. Plan enough time in studying to do justice to each subject. Most college classes are planned to require about two to three hours work per week per credit in the course. By multiplying your credit load by two or three you can get a good idea of the time you should provide for studying. Of course, if you are a slower reader, or have other study deficiencies, you may need to plan more time in order to meet the competition of college classes.
  3. Study at a regular time and in a regular place. Establishing habits of study is extremely important. Knowing what you are going to study, and when, saves a lot of time in making decisions and retracing your steps to get necessary materials. Avoid generalizations in your schedule such as "STUDY." Commit yourself more definitely to STUDY HISTORY or STUDY CHEMISTRY at regular hours.
  4. Study as soon after your lecture class as possible; one hour spent soon after class will do as much good in developing an understanding of materials as several hours a few days later. Review lecture notes while they are still fresh in your mind. Start assignments while your memory of the assignment is still fresh.
  5. Utilize odd hours during the day for studying. The scattered one-hour or two-hour free periods between classes are easily wasted. Planning and establishing habits of using them for studying for the class just finished will result in free time for recreation or activities at other times in the week. Psychologists doing research on learning have discovered that, in the long run, several short distributed sessions of study produce better results than one or two long highly concentrated study sessions.
  6. Be alert to studying or review that can be done while you are doing something else. Each day you do a number of routine physical tasks, which require minimal intellectual involvement.
  7. Limit your blocks of study time to no more than 2 hours on any one course at one time. After 1 and a half to two hours of studying you begin to tire rapidly and your ability to concentrate decreases rapidly. Taking a break and then switching to studying some other course will provide the change necessary to keep your efficiency. If you find that your schedule of available time requires that you do your study in long time blocks, stop for a few minutes and change activities. If you are reading, switch to writing, then to studying your notes, and finally return to your reading.
  8. Trade time—don't steal it! When unexpected events arise that take up time you had planned to study, decide immediately where you can find the time to make up the study missed and adjust your schedule for that week. Note the three weekend evenings. Most students can afford no more than two of them for recreation, but may wish to use different evenings on different weeks. This "trading" agreement provides for committing one night to study but rotating as recreational possibilities vary.
  9. Provide for spaced review. A regular weekly period when you will review the work in each of your courses will help to keep you up to date. This review should be cumulative, covering briefly all the work done thus far in the quarter/semester. Such reviews will reduce the need for cramming later.
  10. Practice self-recitation as a device for increasing memory. Organize your notes in a question and answer form and think in terms of questions and answers about the main ideas of the material as you review weekly. When preparing for exams, try to predict the questions the instructor may ask.
  11. Employ the principles of self-reward and self-punishment. Be sure to keep the level of the reward/punishment appropriate to the amount of studying done, and be consistent. Treat yourself to a half-hour of television for every 2 hours of studying chemistry. Forfeit your Saturday evening movie if you don't complete your architecture project.
  12. Continually revise your study schedule. The more you learn about yourself and your study habits, the more you will be efficient in your use of time. Making time work for you is a skill one acquires after considerable practice. 


University Counseling Service, The University of Iowa, 3223 Westlawn S, 52242-1100, 319-335-7294

Category: Students

Tagged: Academic Skills