When it comes to achieving success in a university setting, organizational abilities are often ranked as one of the most important soft skills that college students need to thrive. This skill, however, does not only apply to classes and assignments. Students need to also consider how they can use the time spent outside of classes to benefit their education as a whole. There are a number of things that students can do productively with their time when they are not in class.
Those who want to improve their performance throughout their time at university should consider the following ideas and how they can use them to set themselves up for success during their time at school.
Regularly review your class material
Taking the time to review your class material in between classes can help you improve your performance. Reviewing the material from your classes helps you to remain current with all the information your class learns. You will feel more confident when your class meets and equipped to participate in discussions and ask questions that can improve your performance on exams.
Regularly reviewing the class information will also help you when it comes time for assessments. You will already have a decent familiarity with the topics that need to be reviewed and may already know which topics will give you the most trouble. This will help you to create a more productive study schedule.
Also consider that when people study all the material for an exam at once, they store the information only in their short term memory. Information in the short term memory does not stay very long, which means that students will quickly forget what they memorized for an exam not long after the exam passes. This can make final or cumulative exams particularly challenging and can cause problems for graduates professionally if they need the information that was in the course during their careers. Studies have also noted a negative correlation between GPA and students who say that they cram for all or most of their courses.
Reviewing class material in between classes helps you avoid falling into this trap. You read and examine the material on a regular basis, helping you absorb it in your long term memory and improve your ability to take exams without cramming sessions.
As a part of regularly reviewing your class materials, you also want to make sure you stay on top of any assignments for the class. You want to break down large assignments into smaller chunks to help you manage the workload. In between classes, set time aside to continually make progress on these assignments.
Update your planner and email
The time between classes also offers you the chance to take care of some more administrative tasks. Keeping yourself organized can greatly benefit you as you work to stay on top of your class assignments and manage the workload.
Therefore, taking a few minutes to update your planner and review upcoming events and dates can help you feel prepared. Make sure that any recent announcements your professors may have made about assignments or assessments receive a note in your planner.
Similarly, stay on top of your email inbox. Sometimes, important emails from your professors or the university may get sent to you, along with communication from friends and loved ones. Checking your email on a regular basis in between your classes can help ensure that you do not miss any important announcements.
Get involved in clubs or organizations
Although classes and the associated work will take up a lot of your time, that does not mean that you will not have any free time to pursue activities that might interest you. Consider joining clubs or organizations at your university related to your hobbies or interests. This can help you get to know others with some similar interests and help you create bonds that could become lifelong friendships.
Having a pleasure outlet like this can also help tremendously with managing stress. There is no doubt that working towards a college degree can be a challenging process, so having ways to unwind and enjoy your time with others can help you manage your stress and prevent it from clouding your thinking or otherwise negatively impacting your studies.
In addition to clubs and activities related to your interests, you might also see if there are any organizations related to your major or your target career. Finding opportunities to volunteer or otherwise gain some experience early in your studies can tremendously benefit you as you prepare to apply for internships and then careers following your graduation.
If you find that you cannot find any clubs or activities that match what you seek, consider also starting your own. Speak to others in your classes to see if any similarly-minded people might be interested in starting a group with you. Not only will it help you experience the benefits of these outside activities, but you can also put your leadership and organizational skills to use bringing people together.
Take time to unwind
It is also important to have some time to just unwind when you do not have anything scheduled. This relaxation time has been shown to help people better manage stress and improve their mood. You can use your unwinding time to engage in a variety of healthful activities that can boost your overall well being. For example, you might consider trying:
Taking a nap
Reading a book
Even just a few minutes a day in one of these activities can benefit your mental health.
Gain work experience
In addition to earning your degree, gaining some experience in the field can greatly benefit you as you prepare to move into the professional world. Prospective employers like to see candidates who have already worked in a similar environment before.
You can gain some work experience in a variety of ways. Many students will pursue internship opportunities as they progress through their studies. Internships allow them to advance their learning by working directly with those in the field.
Volunteer positions also help to demonstrate initiative and give students the chance to make connections within the industry.
Finally, part-time jobs can give students the chance to earn some money while also gaining experience in their chosen career path.
In addition to giving students wonderful opportunities to gain experience in their chosen profession, these work experiences can also help them in other ways. They might have the chance to connect with a mentor who can encourage them and offer advice as they progress through their studies. They might also build their network within their career field, which may allow them to secure references and job opportunities moving forward. Occasionally, a well-performing intern or part-time worker might also find that they can get a full-time job offer upon graduation.
Take advantage of professor office hours
Professors offer office hours because they want to help their students really learn the material and succeed academically. The office hours give students the chance to ask questions and engage in more one-on-one conversations with their professors so that they can receive any needed direction on assignments or assessments.
Take advantage of the office hours that your professor offers. If you have questions that arise during your regular class reviews or when you have begun work on an assignment, speak with the professor. This will help you build relationships, make a positive impression, and ensure that you fully understand the material your class covers. You will feel more confident in class and better equipped to excel in assignments and assessments.
Plan ahead for healthy food
School can be a challenging time for many students. There are many competing responsibilities and many important tasks to consider. One of the best ways to help your brain and body function at their maximum capacity is to consider the food you use to nourish yourself. Preparing healthy food might not seem possible in the middle of exam weeks, but some preparation can make it easy to still eat healthy during these particularly busy periods. Cook meals big enough to feed yourself for a few days, and then freeze the rest. When you hit a busy period at school, you can pull the food out of the freezer and enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner.
Similarly, taking the time to organize your shopping and errands when you have some free time will make it simpler to maintain your healthy lifestyle when you find yourself with less time in the future.
When people prepare for university studies, they often spend a lot of time thinking about how they will manage their classes and assignments. The time they have between their classes, however, offers tremendous potential. When this time is used properly, it can help you manage your stress levels, gain the experience you need to secure a job, take steps to care for your health, and build relationships. Consider how these ideas and tips can help you manage a successful schedule during your years of studying for your degree.