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Empowering students to fulfill their dreams through education.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Student Success – Time by Kelli Turpin

Leg #2 Time
Last time, I asked you to keep a time diary for a week.  Take out that time log and your motivational picture/paragraph.  Keep them in front of you as we talk.
Couple of things you need to know about time: First, time is constant.  Everyone has exactly 24 hours in his or her day.  No more, no less.  You can’t steal time from tomorrow; you can’t bank it for next week.  Twenty-four hours every day.  One hundred-sixty-eight hours every week.   During those 168 hours, there are things that must be done.  You know the things I mean:
  • Sleeping
  • Eating
  • Bathing
  • Working
  • Taking care of kids
  • Spending time w/ significant others, family, or friends
  • Attending religious services
  • Volunteer activities
  • Commuting to and from all of these activities
Second, you have total control over how you spend your time.  You choose to go to work, take care of your kids, and go to church because the consequences of not doing so are unacceptable to you.   If you choose to stay home and play video games instead of going to work, you have decided that the pleasure of playing video games is more important to you than the consequences of not working.

College is a time commitment.  You’re coming to college to achieve a goal (that’s your motivation).  In order to do that effectively and efficiently, you have to give it the time it needs.  How much time does it need?  The general rule is this: for every hour you’re in class, you should plan for two hours of homework.  Rounding up (to make the math easier): the work required for a 3-unit class, offered during a 16-week semester, should take you an average of 10 hours per week. 
Let’s break that down a little more.  Most classes are worth 3 units (or credits).  For a lecture class, a unit represents an hour of class time per week.  This assumes a regular (16-week) semester.  (One unit in an 8-week session is two hours of class time per week.)  A 3-unit class will be usually offered once (a single 3-hour block) or twice (two 1½ hour blocks) a week. 
For every class session, your professors will ask you to do something in preparation for their lecture: reading the textbook, researching a particular issue, writing a paper, or preparing for an exam.  That should take, on average, 6 to 7 hours every week.  On average, you ask?  What does that mean?
Some classes, like math or science, will have consistent amounts of homework every week.  Some classes, like English classes, will require lots of reading, coupled with lots of writing.  Since writing generally takes more time and effort than reading, the weeks when you have papers due will probably require more time than the weeks when you don’t.  Other classes require lots of reading, but only require one or two papers, near the end of the semester, and a few exams in between.  You’ll spend more time around those deadlines than you do the rest of the semester.
Now that you know how much time you need to do well, you need to decide how much time you have.  First, look back at your motivational picture/paragraph.  Remind yourself of the reason you’re in college.  Now, look at your time log from the last week. 
Answer this question:  Do you currently have at least ten hours every week to devote to achieving your goal?  (Those ten hours should not interfere with the essentials of your life.  You still need to eat and sleep and take care of the business of being you.)
If you answered “Yes,” the next question is this: Are you willing to commit to that for an entire 16-week semester?
Again, if the answer is “Yes,” there’s another question: Are the other people in your life willing to give you the space and time you need?
Still “Yes?”  Then all systems are “Go.”
Remember, ten hours is an average time commitment per 3-unit, 16-week class.  Counselors usually recommend that students who are working fewer than 20 hours per week take no more than 12 units the first semester.  If you’re working 40 hours per week, start with 6 or fewer units.  Why, you ask?  Sixty hours of school/work is the ideal balance for most people.  Start slow, do well, then add another class next semester.
Homework:  Next time, we’re going to talk about money, where to find it and how to budget it.  Your homework is to track your everyday spending for at least a week.  In addition, write down all of your monthly bills.  Remember, no one is seeing this but you, so be brutally honest.  You want a clear picture of both your day-to-day, week-to-week, and monthly expenses.  We’ll talk about why that’s important in two weeks.

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