10 Time Management Tips for Students Applying to College


Time Management Tips for Students Applying to College

There are no shortcuts in the college admissions process. Applications take time. And it’s not that there aren’t strategies to better manage your time; it’s simply that effective time management requires diligence, hard work, and most of all - discipline.

In this article, I’ll go over several time management tips for students that helped me succeed as a student-athlete. These tips are particularly helpful when trying to balance college applications, schoolwork, and extracurricular activities. But whether you are a high school student, college student with a major activity, or young professional, we can all use a little help with finding balance in our lives!

1. Dedicate all of your focus to the task at hand.

This is crucial to working efficiently and effectively. When you are doing your homework, you should put your phone away, put your computer away (unless you are working on it), turn off your FaceBook notifications, and work in a place at which you can focus. Stay there until you are completely done with the task. Don't get halfway through a task and start working on the next task; complete the task in its entirety and then move on.

Likewise, when you are practicing, playing, or performing, dedicate all of your focus to your craft. Time management tips for students can translate to activities outside of the classroom. You will think better, perform better, and hopefully win more!

2. Start with your most important task.

You should always work on the highest priority tasks first. I know it's tempting to work on an easier or lower priority task first, but don't let yourself cave. If you have a final paper that accounts for 50% of your grade due at the end of the week, work on your paper first. Once you have checked that off the list, you will feel much better.

3. Utilize all resources at your disposal.

Let’s take the example of a student athlete:

Unlike students who aren’t associated with a team, group, or community, student athletes are many times fortunate to have resources dedicated to helping them succeed academically. In high school, you might have a Student Athlete Committee or an academic advisor who is in charge of providing time management tips for students who are also athletes. So, if you’re wondering, “How many AP classes should I take that fit my sports schedule” or “Will I have time to play varsity soccer and also produce the school play,” ask someone!   

You are also fortunate to have an entire team (and hopefully group of friends). If you have a class with a teammate, perhaps try studying together. Some people work well in collaborative study settings.

Additionally, teachers and professors should be seen as resources. I would encourage you to build relationships with your teachers, which are beneficial for a number of reasons.

...Including school resources!

Schools want successful students who go on to contribute big things to the world. They want difference makers. Your high school wants you to get into the best college possible. And even universities will do their best to provide students with the resources necessary to help them succeed.

Take University of Chicago for example. They have an entire page on their website devoted to time management tips for students.

They even have downloadable forms to help you stay organized!

4. Schedule, schedule, schedule.

Before the week starts, go over your practice, game or performance, and school schedule. I'd suggest creating a calendar that has every single one of your obligations listed. I'd also suggest scheduling in blocks of time to do your homework or study. It's better to work in focused chunks of time than to work here and there for 15 minutes at a time.

You should also schedule in some YOU time - time to relax, watch a show, or to hangout with friends.

5. Taking care of your health is a priority.

This one is maybe the most underrated of all time management tips for students: to be a high achiever both academically and extracurricularly, you must take care of your body. This means that you must sleep and eat well . Some students may be able to stay up late binging on Netflix, but in order to perform at a high capacity, you must give your body the fuel it needs. Being sick or rundown will make you slower and less able to manage your time.

6. Get and stay organized.

Every one of these time management tips for students requires organization. Plain and simple. I have several ways of doing this, but you have to find what works best for you. 

7. Understand your goals and prioritize accordingly.

Many high school and college students - especially those who participate in major activities - know exactly what they want to do upon college graduation. Whether that’s go to graduate school, become an investment banker, or start a company, it is important to keep your long-term goals in mind.

If, as the President of the Robotics club on campus, your goal is to go to MIT, get your PhD, and research artificial intelligence, then you probably don’t need to spend most of your time with the Spanish club. Think about what are the best extracurricular activities for college, and prioritize from there.

Of course, it’s important to do things you are interested in and that will challenge yourself, but you also need to “trim the fat.” Remember that you can’t do it all! 

8. Three famous strategies.

1. ABC analysis

Using this time management strategy, you categorize and group your tasks into three categories: A (important and urgent tasks), B (important but not urgent tasks), and C (unimportant tasks, whether urgent or not).

Once you give tasks a specific category (A, B or C), you should further prioritize based on a number. For example, A1 should be done before A2 and so on.

2. Eisenhower Method

In this method, you need to identify the tasks you complete in order to achieve your goal. Then, tasks are evaluated as: important, urgent, not important, or not urgent. Then, you place these tasks on the “Eisenhower Box” which has four quadrants.:

  1. Urgent and Important – Do first
  2. Important but Not Urgent – Set aside. Put this on a calendar and complete later
  3. Urgent but Not Important – Assign someone to do it or place it in the lowest priority.
  4. Not Urgent and Not Important – Drop these tasks.

3. Time-Boxing

Instead of working on a task until it is complete, you allocate a time limit or fixed period of time to work on the task or group of tasks.

This is not a personal favorite of mine, but perhaps this will work for you! Everybody thinks and works differently.

9. Why do it yourself when there’s an app for that?


Focus Booster


Remember The Milk

10. Don’t forget about books!

There are thousands of books and studies on time management tips for students. If none of the above tactics work for you, pick up a book. Here are a few recommendations to help you get started:

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Again, organization is crucial, especially when you are trying to juggle college applications, school, sports, volunteering, clubs - or whatever it is you’re doing! And take these time management tips for students with you into college, the working world, graduate school, and beyond.

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