Maximize Your Study Time
Studying successfully for a degree is not an easy task especially for students with families and other paid work which must be factored into their schedule. Here are some ideas to help you manage your time more effectively.
1. Timetable your studies
If you’ve come to further education straight from school or are a mature student returning to college later in life, organising your study time can be a major culture shock. There’s no-one there to tell you when to revise; when to do your homework or write up assignments and it’s alarming to see just how quickly your time is swallowed up by other commitments.
It can be very difficult to motivate yourself to sit down and study, especially with the distractions of family or work. A useful exercise is to draft a rough timetable for yourself which allocates specific slots when you will devote yourself to your degree work. It’s important that this is quality time with no distractions; away from TV, family and work.
2. Forward planning
Never leave completing a piece of work until the very last minute. This will only stress you and result in poor quality, rushed work. Allow yourself plenty of time to research, draft and finally complete the assignment.
If you come up against problems which require assistance from your tutor, you will have plenty of time to arrange an appointment with them before the deadline arrives.
3. Family commitments
If you have children to care for or relatives to consider, planning study time can be a challenge. When drafting your timetable, consider what other commitments you will have to meet each week and schedule study time accordingly. Remember to include your children’s half-term breaks and school holidays in your planning and arrange childcare if necessary. You might decide to set aside “family time” when your studies take a backseat; evenings or weekends for example.
If you have very young children and are concerned that you will not be able to focus on your degree course because of your domestic responsibilities, you might be better waiting until they reach school age, rather than starting a course you have no realistic chance of successfully completing.
4. Studies versus work
It is often necessary for students to work in order to pay for the cost of their university course. Although this will help you to gain valuable life skills as well as earn money, be careful that you don’t overcommit yourself and find that you have little time available for studying or are simply too tired.
If you are a mature student and already in full-time employment, you will have to be very disciplined in your study regime. Even after a hectic day at the office, you must still be prepared to knuckle down to course work if you are to succeed.
5. Select the best study method for you
Everybody has their own preferred method of studying and what works for one might not necessarily work for another. Find out which strategy works best for you and then stick with it. The method that suits you best will naturally be the quickest too and this will help boost maximise the study periods you have set aside.
Most course information packs contain a study guide to give you some ideas when you first start. You could also ask your tutor for guidance and check out what works for your classmates too.
6. Breaks are important
Most people’s brains are only able to retain small amounts of information in one sitting. If you sit staring at your books for too long, you’ll simply glaze over and find that your mind has wandered and you haven’t taken in half of what you’ve just read.
Take short breaks frequently during your study periods, especially if you’re sitting in front of a computer screen. Very often, walking away from a tough piece of work and going for a stroll in the fresh air or perhaps meeting friends for coffee is just the catalyst you need to recharge your batteries. Usually, you’ll find yourself returning to the tricky piece with renewed energy and fresh ideas.