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How to Prepare for College—the Workload

College classes actually take up less time in your schedule than those you had in high school. But before you get too excited, the extra time in your day is only an illusion. Although you won’t be spending as many hours in a classroom, you will have a much heavier workload between courses.

To keep from becoming overwhelmed, you’ve got to develop a system to manage all your new-found responsibilities. In this article, we will talk about how to prepare for and manage your college workload.

Set up a Schedule

If you have been following our articles on preparing for college, hopefully, you already have a time management system in place. But for those arriving late to this series, the most critical thing you can do to prepare for your college workload is learning to manage your time.

Learning to manage your new workload starts before classes even begin. We recommend purchasing a detailed student planner and setting up a realistic schedule for yourself. Make sure you record the dates and times of your classes and any project due dates or important exams.

Set aside blocks of time for studying, catching up on reading, and your extracurricular activities. While you are writing things down, try to set up regular times to go to bed and wake up, so you stay healthy and well-rested. Yes, we know this is a lot to ask of an inbound freshman, but you will thank yourself for getting some quality rest.

If you are also juggling a part-time job, a structured schedule is an absolute must. As you input all your essential activities, try to set aside time where there are no obligations to give yourself some breathing room.

Tech-savvy students may prefer to set up their schedule digitally by using an app on their cell phones or tablets. Either way is excellent as long as your plan is easily accessible, and you refer to it often.

Try to look at your schedule as a budget that uses time instead of money. Each hour is a valuable commodity to spend as wisely as possible. If you budget your time carefully, you won’t come up short.

Focus on Self Care

With all you have on your plate, telling you to focus on self-care might seem like a bit too much, but it’s imperative. Many students fall ill during the first few months of school because they bite off more than they can chew. A demanding workload, a large population of people, and a new environment is a petri dish for viruses and bacteria. Combine that with a few late-night parties, and you set yourself up for the flu and other nasty bugs.

It can be tempting to skip over all those health and hygiene tasks your mother has been nagging you about over the years. However, now it’s time to make your own self-care a priority. Your Mom is not here to make sure you take your vitamins, eat a healthy dinner, or get a good night’s sleep. If you get sick, it will directly affect how well you can handle the increased workload of college.

Make sure that eating a balanced diet, participating in regular exercise, and getting adequate sleep is on your to-do list in your daily schedule. Not only will you stay healthy, but you will have enough energy to make it through the rigors of the first semester and beyond.

Ask for Help

No matter how hard you work, there are times when you can’t handle the entire workload without some extra help. Luckily, most colleges have plenty of resources to help. All you need to do is reach out and take advantage of the resources available.

If you need help with time management and study skills, check with your academic office to see what is available. You might also want to schedule a meeting with your college advisor and let him or her know how overwhelmed you are feeling. Your advisor can help determine if you are in over your head and help you determine a course of action to get back on track.

Lastly, while it may be tempting to drop our when the going gets tough, meet with your professor before you call it quits. Be honest about your struggles in his or her particular class. It is possible they can offer you some assistance or refer you to a study partner or group that might be just what you need.

Final Thoughts

Although the workload is much different than it was in high school, your college studies won’t be unmanageable if you strive to manage them first. Remember, when you start choosing your schedule in subsequent semesters that you plan accordingly. If you are guilty of trying to fit in too much at once, make sure you plan your winter schedule with a bit more wiggle room.

Related:

How to Prepare for College