Article type icon

Time Management for College Students

Here are some tips to help you stay on track

It's the end of the first day of classes, and the enthusiasm you initially felt for the new school year has given way to a growing sense of apprehension. This is post-secondary education, and you are not entirely sure you can handle it.

In addition to a vastly greater academic workload than you may have been accustomed to, college and university will present an array of other challenges.

Academically, the demands on your time will be intense, and the opportunities for distraction abundant. You may also be living away from home for the first time in your life, requiring that you be both household manager and student. And, as if being a full-time college or university student were not sufficiently demanding, you may have taken on a part-time job to pay the bills.

In the face of these challenges, the key to success is time management.

Scribendi's three-step system for successful time management

Time is a limiting factor in any endeavor we undertake. However, by understanding the challenges of time management and employing effective strategies, you may discover that there really are enough hours in the day to finish editing that term paper and get a good night's sleep. The following are strategies will help you better manage your time:

  1. Define the objective.
  2. Organize your time.
  3. Economize your time.

Defining the objective

When faced with any task, large or small, it often pays to brainstorm the component steps required to achieve the ultimate objective.

Consider the example of writing and editing a term paper or essay. In this case, there are at least five general steps required to complete the task. If not already assigned, the first step should be selecting a topic for your term paper. The next stage is the formulation of a thesis statement, which is the argument around which your term paper will be written. The final three steps in the essay-writing process will take up the majority of your time. These steps are researching, writing, and editing/proofreading your essay.

Whatever the objective happens to be, brainstorm and write your thoughts down. Defining the objective and the tasks necessary to achieve that objective are the first key steps in managing your time. Remember, you can't manage a task that hasn't been defined!

Organizing your time

Now that you have defined your objective and have an outline of the steps required to achieve your objective, you can estimate the time it will take to complete each step.

If there is one area of your life in which it is in your interest to be cynical, this would be it. Underestimating the amount of work you can accomplish in a given period of time isn't a bad thing. Apply the following cynic's maxim: Plan on completing half the intended work in twice the time. And if this sounds rather gloomy, remember—even if your estimates turn out to be overly pessimistic, chances are that this will be one of the few instances in life where being wrong pays off!

Economize your time   

At first glance, this strategy may seem to run counter to the cynic's advice. Didn't we just advise you to budget twice the time you might otherwise have committed to complete a task?

However, when we advise you to economize your time, we were talking about employing all the tools at your disposal to successfully apply the first two strategies mentioned above.

Consider the first strategy, that of "defining the objective." As a student, you will probably be juggling more than one major project at any time. How might this be accomplished with a minimum degree of confusion? As an example, you may want to create a separate folder on your computer desktop for each class taken during a given semester. Within that class folder, you could create separate project folders for laboratory reports, essays, exam preparation, and class notes. Accessibility to previously catalogued information depends on organization. Furthermore, searching for stray files is an unnecessary waste of time!

Successful student time management also requires that you do not let "unexpected" or "forgotten" tasks displace your currently scheduled work or appointments. To prevent such surprises, we recommend that college and university students make a habit of using a day planner or calendar. Do you prefer a technologically advanced alternative to traditional student time management? Personal scheduling software now exists that allows you to synchronize scheduling information among your computer, cellular phone, and/or handheld device.

College and university students don't have to go it alone

Our final and most important piece of advice is to never hesitate to seek the help of others! As a college or university student, you may find that many objectives, such as exam preparation, are well suited to cooperative effort. For example, you could try organizing a study group. You may find that some aspects of exam preparation, including the identification of significant material or the formulation of a study schedule, benefit greatly from cooperative brainstorming, which, in the end, is all part of "defining the objective." 

You can also make use of our essay editing service. Our team of qualified editing professionals will check your term paper for language errors (spelling and grammar), as well as make suggestions on content and style. Short on time? Don't worry—our term paper editing services can have your paper edited and back in your inbox within eight hours—and all for a price that college and university students can afford!



Image source: Eric Rothermel/

Let’s Get Your Essay Ready to Wow an Audience

Hire One of Our Expert Editors, or Get a Free Sample