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How to Deal With Your Workload in College

by JJ Stier, studioD

The workload in college can be overwhelming. Students find themselves managing multiple assignments and juggling numerous due dates. Sometimes it is a scramble for even the best students to keep up with their workload. The key to success in college is to handle time and resources strategically. If students follow a checklist of study strategies and a few academic tricks, they can control their workload, organize their time and improve their odds of success in college.

A Folder System

Students often don't have time to track down a professor or get extra copies of the class syllabus or crucial hand-outs. This is why students should come to class the very first day with a ring binder of pocket folders. Students should write the course title on the front of each folder and put the syllabus and any other materials the professor distributes in class in the folder. This provides a place to keep all hand-outs, even after the assignment has been completed, as it may be important later in the term for a test or final exam.

An Assignment Calendar

It is important to review each syllabus and create a list of due dates for tests, assignments, papers, and projects, and then create your own calendar. Then you should print out a copy of your calendar and tape it inside your binder for reference or editing. You won't be able to handle your workload if you find out on Monday night that you have a 25-page research paper in one class and a 20-minute class presentation right after it. It is best to start chipping away at assignments early in the term and pay close attention to due dates.

Class Attendance

Experienced college students know that attending class is the easiest way to get a better grade. Professors review the material, offer essential insights into completing assignments and often mention useful shortcuts or research tips. Attending class also helps students prepare for tests, because college professors like to give hints about the test during lecture. Students who skip class often study the wrong topics and actually do more work than their peers who learned how to focus on test material during class.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Students need to review the precise wording of assignments, what kind of analysis the instructor wants for the assignment. If you don't understand exactly how much research or writing you should do, ask the professor. Also, try to determine how the professor views the subject matter and how to shape your assignments to reflect the angle the professor takes on the topic. Ask questions and take class notes to narrow the focus of the assignment. Studying with classmates is another great energy saving idea.

About the Author

JJ Stier , who earned a EdM from Harvard and MA from the University of Oregon, teaches English in higher education and K-12. She is particularly attuned to issues in education and parenting. She has spent many years in community colleges and universities teaching preparatory and developmental reading and writing and has served on committees that shape college policy in developmental studies.

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