Create a Schedule

Learning Objectives

  • Evaluate techniques for creating an effective schedule
a woman reads her laptop with a cell phone in her hand

Create a Schedule

Before we discuss evaluating techniques for creating an effective schedule, take a minute to think about your own plans for the upcoming week. If you have a job, you have a schedule of your shifts or your projects. If you have kids, maybe you have to help them organize their school schedule and extracurricular activities. If you live near members of your family, such as your parents or grandparents, maybe you offer them assistance with doctor’s appointments or errands. You get the picture. Your schedule is not just your own. Now that you are a college student, you have one more schedule to add to the list. What you may think of as your schedule is actually a combination of many plans and commitments. There are only so many hours in the day, so what are some techniques for creating an effective school schedule?

It’s important to keep in mind that being a student is not just about the time that you spend attending class meetings; you also have to schedule time to study, read, and complete assignments and projects. Signing up for classes is just the start of planning your schedule.

Where do you start? Begin with reading your syllabus. Search for important due dates for assignments and projects. Will you have quizzes and tests? Is there a group project? Do you have online discussion board posts assigned in this class? If so, when do you have to post? When do you have to respond?

Now that you have the syllabus and the list of dates, where will you keep track of all of these assignments? You might think that you can use the syllabus, but consider that you are taking other classes. You have a lot to manage between your personal life and your school schedule. Do you keep a calendar on your phone? Do you prefer a paper calendar where you can cross out the days and take notes? Do you like to keep a calendar on your laptop? How you keep track of your schedule is up to you.

Let’s say you’re going to use a calendar app, such as Google Calendar, on your phone because you can synchronize your work calendar and your family’s calendars. This gives you a chance to see everything that you need to do at-a-glance. You can also set notifications so the calendar app will help you remember important dates and obligations.

Go through each syllabus for all of your classes and make a note for each assignment, quiz, test, and project for each course. Do you have days where two different classes have an assignment due? Are there days when two or more classes have a quiz or a test? Do you have midterms on the same day? Do you have group projects to plan for throughout the term? Will this require arranging meeting times with your other group members? Some weeks may be a bit more stressful and challenging than others. Having a big picture view of the entire term can help you get a sense of how to manage your time. This may seem tedious and time-consuming, but keep in mind that you only have to do this once a term.

Now that you have your course schedule planned, what else do you need to plan for as a student? You may also want to take note of important dates at your college. Here is a short list of information to take notes on your calendar.

  • When is tuition due?
  • What is the last day to drop a course?
  • When is finals week?
  • When are your own final exams?
  • What is the last day to make changes to your grade options?
  • When do you register for the next term?

You may also want to go to your college’s website and search for your college’s academic calendar. Most college websites have a search function to help you find your school’s academic calendar and other useful information. Having these important dates at your fingertips will help you manage your time.

And last but not least, now that you have all of your student obligations recorded, let’s spend some time thinking about holidays and personal obligations. Are there holiday breaks during your academic term? Will you use those holidays for recreational activities, working extra hours at your job, or relaxing? You might also want to record important family holidays such as birthdays or religious holidays. It’s important to plan for joyful experiences that will help you decompress from the challenges of being a student.

Not all of the suggestions work for everyone, and part of being a college student is figuring out what works best for you. We have 168 hours in our week, so what will a week look like for you? The University of Pittsburgh has a helpful interactive Time Management Calculator you can use to get a visual aid for how you spend the hours in your day.

Spend a few minutes entering the time that you spend each week. Where will you spend most of your time?


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