Back To CourseCollege Success
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Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.
Vanessa is feeling overwhelmed. She's in school, has a full-time job, and is a single mother. That's a lot! She wants to do well in school, but is struggling to find time to study and get her schoolwork done. What can she do?
Vanessa is facing a very common issue amongst students today. How do you balance school and life? Whether, like Vanessa, you have a job and family in addition to school, or whether you're balancing school and a social life or something else, finding a way to fit everything into a busy schedule is difficult.
To help Vanessa, let's look at how to craft an action plan for studying and tips for making the most of limited study time.
As we've seen, Vanessa has a lot on her plate. She wants to study more, so that she can get better grades in school, but she's not sure how to do it.
One thing that might help Vanessa is an action plan, or a blueprint for how to get things done. On her action plan, Vanessa will include information like when, where, and what she will study.
Creating an action plan is simple and only takes a few steps.
1. Look at the big picture. The first thing that Vanessa will want to do is to identify what she needs to study and compile a list of all the topics she'll have to cover. Let's say that she's taking English, math, and science this semester. She then looks at the syllabi or textbooks to figure out what topics she needs to study. She sees that her math class is focusing mostly on statistics and only a little bit in algebra, so she would need to know that most of her study time in math this semester will be in statistics. She sees that for her English class, she has to read seven books and write three papers, and she enjoys reading, so the only real work will be the papers. Her science class, on the other hand, is going to involve several labs that she'll have to make time for, and she doesn't have a lot of experience in this area, so she knows she'll have to study a lot. That gives her an idea of what she's in for with her school work.
2. Prioritize study topics. If Vanessa has a test in her math class next week, she might need to prioritize studying math over studying for English or science, at least until after the test. She'll want to take the list of topics that she created in step one and put them in order from most urgent to least urgent.
3. Schedule study time. Saying, 'I'm going to study this week,' sounds good, but when you have a busy life, it's too easy to keep putting it off. Instead, Vanessa will want to look at her schedule and find time to block off as study time. She should remember that she doesn't need hours and hours in a row to study. A few minutes here and there can also make a big difference.
4. Write down what, when, and where. As Vanessa looks at the big picture, prioritizes her study topics, and schedules her study time, she's getting a vague idea of what she will study, and when. Vanessa will want to be very specific about what, where, and when she will study. Now's the time to put all of that down in writing. The most important thing is not where she writes her plan down, but that she writes it down. She can do this in her calendar, or on a sheet of paper that serves as her action plan, but she needs to have it in writing.
For example, she might write an action plan that says things like 'After my daughter goes to bed at 7 pm, I will spend one hour studying the chapter on the Pythagorean theorem at my dining room table.' Or, if she has a doctor's appointment scheduled on her calendar for Wednesday, she might write under it, 'Review vocab words on flashcards in the waiting room.' The more specific Vanessa can be, the more likely she will succeed at fitting studying into her schedule.
Now that Vanessa has an action plan, she knows what, when, and where she'll be studying. But remember, she doesn't have a lot of time to study, so she needs to make the most of the time she does have.
To do that, here are some tips that Vanessa can use to make sure her studying is effective.
1. Know your times. I don't mean multiplication tables: I mean the best and worst times for you. Everyone has certain times of day when they are more alert and other times when their energy dips. For example, Vanessa is a morning person and is very alert in the mornings. In the evenings, though, she finds it harder to concentrate because she's sleepy.
Vanessa will want to study harder things in the morning and review easier material in the evenings. This way, she's working with her body's own rhythms to get the most out of her study time.
2. Know your style. Everyone learns in different ways. Some people learn best when they can see images or graphs. Others are good with reading words on a page. Still others need to hear the information to make sense of it.
If Vanessa knows what her learning style is, she can plan her study activities to take advantage of that. For example, if she learns best when she can hear information, she might want to take time to read her class notes out loud to herself to help her understand and remember.
3. Know your limits. People can only do so much, and it's important to know your limitations and take those into consideration when studying. For example, Vanessa knows that she can only study for about an hour before she begins to lose her focus. She might want to take a short break each hour to move around, take a walk, or do a little dance. This will help her refocus herself and keep her mind fresh.
Another thing that she might consider is how much she can realistically take on in any given semester. She wants to be finished with her degree as soon as possible, but she should carefully consider how many classes she can take each semester while still working and taking care of her daughter. She might want to take five classes in hopes that she'll finish earlier, but if she fails classes because she's taken on too much, it will be worse for her schedule, wallet, and self-esteem. Instead, she might choose to only take one or two classes, if that's what she feels she can handle.
Finding time to study can be difficult when you live a busy life. An action plan, or 'blueprint' for how you will get things done, is a good way to help plan study time. To create an action plan, you should look at the big picture, prioritize study topics, schedule study time, and write down when, what, and where. To make your study time most effective, you should know the times when you are at your best, know your learning style, and know your limits.
As this lesson comes to an end, you should be able to:
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Back To CourseCollege Success
2 chapters | 6 lessons