The college and university years are among the most important in the life of a person. It is a period that opens new horizons, teaches new skills crucial for the future professional and/ or academic life of the student and puts the basis for any future endeavors. At the same time, college life can be difficult for an individual who has to handle many different courses, write a series of successful essays and exams, achieve academic excellence, participate in classroom and at the same time continue his/ her other activities. In order to achieve all this, a student can use certain tools that will facilitate his/ her higher education journey. I believe that two of the most valuable tools a student has are time management and study skills.
It has been argued that “perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not” (as cited in Waldvogel, 2000). Time management in college means exactly that: the ability to organize your time effectively in order to be able to complete coursework and prepare for exams in time. Time management in college/ university is a task a student is sole responsible for, while at the same time a full time semester is considered equal in difficulty and time commitment to a full time job (Waldvogel, 2000). Time management is therefore crucial for academic success. The Academic Resource Center of Duke University (2011) suggests that advantages of time management include time gain, the reduction of avoidance and anxiety, motivation, promotion of review and elimination of cramming.
Time management strategies are central therefore in the life of a student and are widely discussed in college and university web pages –for example Stanford, Chicago, Clemson and Duke Universities- as an important first step towards achieving academic goals. These include effective yearly and weekly planning, frequent, short out-of-class study sessions that equal to 24 to 36 hours per week and a determination to follow those plans avoiding procrastination (Waldvogel, 2000).
In this respect, study skills are equally important. The learning process can be a rewarding experience but at the same time can be frustrating, time consuming and incomplete if a student does not know how to study effectively. Learning, like most other things in life, is therefore a complex procedure that requires skills and practice (Pennsylvania State University, 2011).
Effective learning involves understanding instead of memorizing, a full comprehension of the course material. In this respect, skills like critical reading, speed reading, headlining and simultaneous note taking can be essential. They help the student focus on the most important aspects of particular arguments and allow him/ her to revise the material faster and easier. Furthermore, as the understanding of a course begins in class, note taking inside the classroom is also very important. Lectures supplement other course material and can often help in understanding difficult texts and highlight aspects that need further research.
Writing skills for College and University are also important as academic writing is part of studying and thus of the learning experience. Essays and even exams require effective writing skills which are among the most important studying skills one has to master during his/ her College and University years. The above studying skills can also prove to be particularly helpful during exam periods as the student will have built during the semester a solid basis of understanding of all course material. During exam periods the combination of studying skills with time management can prove especially effective.
It should be clear by now that time management and studying skills are important tools for any student either in the beginning or towards the end of his/ her academic career. I hope to be able to master both during my higher education journey putting a solid basis for my future professional life.
Academic Resource Center, Duke University (2011). Effective time management [PDF document]. Retrieved from: http://web.duke.edu/arc/documents/Effective%20Time%20Management.pdf
Waldvogel, J. College survival skills: Time management. Retrieved from Clemson University Web site: http://www.clemson.edu/collegeskills/index.htm
Pennsylvania State University (2011). Academic Success: Study Skills.
Retrieved from: http://dus.psu.edu/academicsuccess/studyskills.html