African American student studying while sitting in the library.

The balancing act

When you start college, you’ll probably find yourself busier than you’ve ever been. You may have tougher classes and more studying to do, and you may be trying to balance that with a part-time job. On top of it all you probably have more social distractions than ever — college campuses are like a giant buffet of friends and opportunities for fun and it can be tough not to over­indulge.

To help you keep it all in balance, here are five simple rules to live by in college. They’re easy to remember and understand, but definitely require some discipline to stick to. If you do your best to follow these basic ideas, you’ll probably find it much easier to manage it all.

Never skip class

This rule is important. No amount of cramming will ever substitute for simply attending class and taking good notes. Make it your #1 priority in college, even when people around you are sleeping in or skipping for whatever reason.

Try to keep a normal schedule

You’ll find out there are so many more productive hours in the day when you get up on the early side

(7:00 – 8:00 a.m.) and go to bed at a reasonable hour. College students are known for keeping late nights and sleeping in, but if you feel like you can’t keep up with your studies, try to avoid this trap. You’ll probably feel a lot more rested and will be able to get more done during the day.

Treat studying like a job

Pretend you have a regular 8:00 – 5:00 job and that you’re headed to campus to do that job. Don’t have class until 10:00 a.m.? Perfect, head to the library and do some reading between 8:00 and 10:00. Got another class at 1:00 and then at 3:00? Do your studying between classes that day and you can put in a good 4 – 5 hours of study time while still taking an hour for lunch! That beats sleeping in and watching daytime TV. If it sounds like a drag to do this every day, try it just a few days a week and see how it works for you.

Try for an on­campus job

If you need a part­time job, it can be most effi to get an on­campus job. You can work in between classes, leaving your evenings free to study. Plus, it’s likely your place of business will be closed over school breaks, so you don’t have to worry about taking time off to go home.

Save socializing for weekends

Another important rule. Don’t be tempted by offers to go out on weeknights, especially early on in your college career. Stay focused on your studies during the week and give yourself Friday and Saturday nights off. It’s much easier to stay on top of your studies this way, and it might keep you from being stuck in the library on a Saturday night, worrying about a Monday morning quiz.

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Caroline Hanson
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Caroline Hanson

Communications Consultant at Wells Fargo
Copywriter at Wells Fargo.

She’s experienced in planning and paying for college both as a student and parent. With one child through college and two more a few years away from it, she is right there with you on the college-planning journey. A creative pro with years logged in journalism, public relations, and marketing, she’s been writing for the College Planning Blog since its launch in 2006.
Caroline Hanson
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