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Outside the Classroom

Time management and Organization

Time management in college can look very different from other parts of life. You may not have classes all day long, you have more free time to do other things, but also need to learn how to balance school and extracurricular activities. It is important to allow yourself time to both study but also to relax and do things you enjoy. 

One way to manage your time is to keep a calendar, digital or paper calendar, to plan out your days, weeks, months. Put big assignments, exams, due dates, and events on your calendar so you can plan accordingly. When you receive your syllabi, note big assignments and program reminders to prepare and study in advance. Note busy times when looking at the monthly calendar and prepare accordingly. 

It’s important to recognize when you study best and to plan accordingly. Some people study best in the morning and some in the evening, and many in between, learn what works best for you. 

Myhomework (app): this student planner app allows you to track your classes, homework, and tests and can give you reminders. There are monthly and weekly calendars. 

Your William & Mary Outlook account also allows you to keep a calendar. 

Study skills

Learning how to study in college can be very different from how you have studied in the past. College level courses require a different approach to studying and you might need to give yourself grace to develop new skills. It may take some trial and error, but here are 5 steps to studying successfully in the study cycle from Saundra McGuire’s book “Teach Yourself How to Learn”:

  1. Preview:
    1. Gain a sense of the big picture and how concepts will fit together. Prepare for lecture by coming to class with specific questions that will be answered during class.
    2. To do: pre-class reading (check the syllabus for this); you can skim and focus on headings, introductions, and summary sections to save time.
  2. Attend Class
    1. Be attentive during class. This will help you narrow down what to study. Be engaged and ask questions if applicable.
    2. To do: take notes effectively (see resources for taking notes). Stay focused during class by limiting distractions. Write down questions during class and go to office hours. 
  3. Review
    1. Plan how you are going to study the material. 
    2. To do: go back over notes as soon as you can after the class period ends. Fill in gaps and figure out what you know, what you do not know, and what you need to focus on most. Actively engage with the material: explain the material in your own words, summarize key points, and link the content back to the big picture. 
  4. Study
    1. Brief, intense, study sessions have proven to be more effective than long sessions. 
    2. To do: schedule study sessions when works best for you. Some people study best during certain times of the day or in certain spaces. Plan accordingly. Studying several times a week will be more effective in limiting cramming close to an assessment. Set realistic goals. 
    3. Reward yourself!
  5. Check
    1. Check in with yourself and evaluate what you are doing and if it is working. If it is not, try another technique, time of day, study environment, reduce distractions, take a break and come back to the content, etc. 
    2. To do: check in with learning objectives. Take practice tests (self-testing), discuss with classmates, use flashcards, etc. 

Active studying is important to engage with content so you can apply what you are learning. Here are ways to actively study:

  • Create a study guide by topic
    • Create a quiz from this study guide
  • State the information in your own words as if you are teaching it to someone else
  • Concept maps or diagrams
  • Figure out big ideas
  • Study in terms of question, evidence, and conclusion
  • Organize and plan studying: use subtopics provided on the syllabi to guide organization. Gather all materials for each topic.

Source: “Teach Yourself to Learn” by Sandra McGuire