Understand the significance of information provided in course outlines
- Course name and description (what the professor emphasizes)
- Professor's name and contact information
- Required and recommended texts (study guides)
- Course objectives
- Assignments and exams (dates, weight, details, etc.)
- Course Syllabus (i.e., topics and readings for each class)
Use the information from course outlines and time management strategies to plan the term (set goals and prioritize)
Use the course schedule, your familiarity with the material, the relative weight of the assignments and exams (that is, what percentage of the total grade are the assignments and exams worth), and information from the professor to help prioritize your tasks and manage your time effectively.
- Start with a term calendar that shows you the entire term at a glance. Write exam dates and assigment/lab due dates on this calendar, along with other events that will affect your schedule (example of a term calendar). You may want to use a paper calendar you post on the wall in a spot that catches your attention on a regular basis. Or, you could use the day timer provided to you by the USSU (University of Saskatchewan Students' Union), or an online calendar such as a google calendar, outlook or your PAWS calendar.
- When deciding how much time to spend on an assignment, consider the weight of the assignment and the difficulty of the class as well as how long it will take you to complete it. For example, it makes sense to budget three times as much time to writing a term paper worth 30% than you would in preparing for a midterm worth only 10%. However, you will also want to spend more time on the more difficult classes.
- The first time you do a new activity, you're facing a "double learning curve"-not only are you learning new material, you are also learning how to do a particular type of assignment. The first time you write a university-level paper, for example, you'll need to learn how to find appropriate resources, how the library works and what presentation format the professor expects. Allow extra time for this double learning curve. If you need some help in getting started, plan a visit to the University Learning Centre for Writing Help.
- One approach for dealing with last minute activities and assignments that compete for your time is to set due dates for assignments a week earlier than they actually are. It is better to have extra time planned for completing work and dealing with the unexpected, than to run out of time.
- To counter procrastination, break larger assignments into smaller tasks, and then set times to accomplish the smaller steps. Be sure to reward yourself! Give yourself a small reward for a small task, perhaps 5-15 minutes break for every 40-50 minutes of studying and a bigger reward, possibly a movie, for a week of following your study schedule. Be sure to reward both your process goals (Did you spend as much time studying as you'd planned?) as well as your progress goals (Did you make significant progress on the completion of your assignment?)