The Difference Between Time Management In High School vs College

Friday, July 05, 2024
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There is an old saying, “time is of the essence.” As we age, this simple yet insightful idiom begins to hold more weight than it used to as children. As you take on more responsibilities—whether that be friends, work, school, family, or just personal time—the more you will have to divide up your time. But do not fear, you are not alone in this arena. 

Everybody must learn the value of time management at some point. College can be a crucial moment in your life to really hone this particular skill. College is the first time that students typically find themselves truly left to their own devices. In college your class schedule does not take up your entire day, and even if it does, you do not have the typical limitations you once did back at home. When you begin your college career, you will see just how much time is afforded to you. The trick is to manage it well. Here at NSHSS, we are devoted to making this better for you. Check out our five tips for managing your time well, no matter your schedule!


Plan Ahead

Depending on what schools, teachers, and communities you come from, the expectations in college are higher than they were for most people in high school. One of the ways this is expressed is through the semester-wide deadlines given out to each student. Typically, at the beginning of each college course, your professor might hand out a detailed syllabus, including the schedule for the entire semester. This will include due dates for everything from the first major essay, midterms, readings, and yes, even the final exam date. But do not be alarmed. Despite how daunting this might seem at the outset, it can be incredibly helpful for students when they are planning their own semester. By budgeting time early in the semester around each of your course due dates, you will find free time, play time, and even work time if you need to work on the weekends or after class. By blocking out your semester’s schedule early, you have a chance at minimizing your stress later on down the line. 


Calendars! Calendars! Calendars!

NSHSS Calendar

We live in a digital age, where not only does your phone come equipped with a standard year calendar, there are hundreds of apps devoted to tracking your due dates, your course schedule, and your after school activities. On top of that, any school supply store will have a plethora of different calendars and planners to choose from. Maybe you want a large wall calendar you can decorate like a poster. Or you want something smaller, perhaps spiral-bound, that you can place in your bookbag next to your laptop. Whatever your preferred style, even if that is just using your phone/tablet, it is vitally important to get used to using a calendar. They are a fantastic way to see your life mapped out by the times you need to be here, there, or in the library studying for that upcoming test. If, say, your friends want you to join their volleyball team which practices on Thursday nights, you can add that new time to your existing calendar. This time management technique will help take the stress of timing out of your life, freeing your mind up to just enjoy the time you have.


Set Reminders

We all know that new events pop up everyday in our busy lives. Maybe your professor cancels class due to inclimate weather, or you miss a few days of class after getting a cold, or you decide to go home for the weekend which takes away that time you had allocated for studying in the library before a big test. Whatever the reason, we cannot always predict what may crop up to disrupt the timing we have planned for. This is where your phone might just become your best friend. By setting small reminders on whatever app you choose, you can fill in the gaps that remain when your calendar’s elaborate planning becomes justified. It may just save you in the long run to set a quick reminder for your future self. 


Establish A Routine

One amazing advantage to college is the ample “free time” that you are given. Since classes may not take up your entire day, you are free to do what you think is best. But it’s important that you are realistic and practical with how you spend your time. Even if you have your entire afternoon free each day, this does not mean you should do whatever you feel like doing on each of those days. Instead, it is vital to your success as a student to establish a set routine. By relying on your calendars, a preferred reminders app, and your own class schedule, you can easily build a daily routine that works best for your skill set and interests. This routine might include going to the gym, going to church, taking a long walk around the campus, reading, studying at the library, or meeting your friends for late night coffee. The sooner you can learn to live by a daily routine, the quicker your time management skills will come into clear focus. And if you really want to do something wildly out of the ordinary one day after school, like go to the beach with your friends on a Tuesday night, or go to a football game on campus one Sunday morning, that is okay. Always remember, it is much easier to break a routine than to not have one at all. 


Be Realistic 

Some of you might be reading this and getting fired up at the prospect of creating your own personal schedule. While it is true that college students have a lot more free time than high school students, it is important to understand why this is and what it means. College is a place to try new things in the safety of a supportive community. Universities pride themselves on encouraging students to try out for all sorts of different clubs, or sports, or even just to make new friends. When a student has more free time than ever before, their problem is not wasting that free time completely, the problem usually arises when students overbook themselves and suddenly are spread too thin. This can be where students start to burn out too quickly. If you are a social butterfly, or you just know that you will want to try everything at least once, that is no problem. But keep in mind the importance of mental health. By overextending oneself, a student can become too tired, too anxious, and possibly too depressed to focus on important things like the clubs they signed up for, their new friends, or even their coursework. Therefore, as much fun as it might be to do everything you possibly can in a single day, being kind to your future self by not overdoing it is an even better time management tool than any other you might pick up. And, if you are on the other end of the spectrum and do not feel much like doing anything, try devoting just thirty minutes of your day to trying something new. You never can tell where a little bit of time might lead you. 


These time management tips and tricks are meant to prepare you for both the fun you might have in your new life as a college student and to warn you against overextending yourself. Beginning your college career is an important step in any student’s life, no matter where or when. But with this newfound freedom comes a newfound sense of reality. Do not let the boundless possibilities become a burden to you. Plan ahead, embrace the moments of calm, and do not be afraid to scrap your calendar’s dates and try something new. Because that’s what college is truly all about new experiences. So, if you need to plan for anything, plan to be surprised!

For more tips on college life, visit NSHSS to learn what will help you in this next phase of your journey.