Building Better Habits For College
College is a time to explore your interests and find out who you really are. But with so many opportunities to get involved both on- and off-campus, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. We checked-in with the HSU Learning Center—a free academic support program on campus—for some tips on how students can make the most of their time at HSU.
“A lot students try to be superhuman,” says Su Karl, Learning Center Director. Which is why she encourages students to be realistic when determining what they can and can’t accomplish in a semester. “I’ll see a student who’s holding down a job for more than 25-hours a week and is an athlete or a parent,” she says. Karl often suggests that students scale back their non-academic commitments—especially if they’re working more than 20-30 hours a week—to minimize stress and avoid burnout.
Prioritize and Manage Your Time
If cutting back isn’t an option, students can maximize the time they do have by clarifying their priorities. The Learning Center offers time management evaluation and time tracker worksheets to help students determine exactly where and how they’re spending their time. After students become clear about their goals, Karl suggests they hold themselves accountable by maintaining a calendar, either on paper or online. Semester on a Page, available through the Learning Center’s website, includes all major academic dates and deadlines and the ability to separate and color-code events. It also offers a birds-eye view by week, month and year—allowing students to observe the ebb and flow of the semester.
Other options include weekly planners—available for purchase at the HSU bookstore—and Google Calendar, Google’s free online calendar. Finally, Karl discourages students from using their smartphones as their sole organizer. Why? They don’t provide a bird’s eye view, making it harder to plan weeks and months in advance. “And deadlines are always closer than they appear,” she says.
When it comes to studying effectively, pacing is key, Karl says. The biggest mistake that students make is expecting to squeeze a semester’s worth of studying into an hours-long cram session. “It’s not realistic, nor effective,” Karl says. Instead, she recommends that students plan to study for two hours per one hour of class. Like any other muscle, the brain needs time to recoup, which is why she tells students to take a 15-minute break for every one to two hours of work. Another tip? Tackle your most difficult assignment first. Also, determine when you have the most brain energy and plan your studying accordingly. For most people, that’s earlier in the day, Karl says. “Most people do their best work when it’s still light out.”
The Learning Center is located in the Library basement, Room 55. Students are encouraged to drop-in or make an appointment to meet with a peer learning assistant or professional staff.
Semester on a Page—At-a-glance semester calendar that includes many important HSU deadlines.
Class Schedule Planner—A planner for scheduling classes.
Class Manager—Organizes important course information on one page. Includes instructor and classmate contact information, a chart to track progress and more.
Weekly Planner—Maps out time for classes, studying, work and free time.
Money Management—A handout to for tracking expenses.