Students can focus on time management and use resources such as phone apps to have a strong spring semester.
Alexander Toftness, graduate psychology student, teaches the Psychology 131: Academic Learning Skills course.
Toftness said a big thing they push in the class is time management.
Students can have different approaches to managing their time throughout the school weeks. Some may sit down on the first day of classes, read through the syllabus of each class and mark down important due dates in their planners. Others may take it one day at a time.
“It’s like building a jigsaw puzzle,” Toftness said. “You’ve got all your hours in the week, and now you have to figure out where your assignments are going to fit into those hours. It’s a lot better to do that approach than it is to sort of be like ‘What is due today?’ and then try to do those things.”
Jesse Rothweiler is also a graduate psychology student who teaches Psychology 131: Academic Learning Skills.
Rothweiler advises students to set what they know they have to do and then be specific with their schedules.
When scheduling time to study or work on assignments, Rothweiler said students can block out time for specific work.
Students can take a three hour block of time and have each hour reserved for specific classes or assignments. After the first few weeks of the semester, students can adjust their time as certain classes may require more time and effort.
It also may be helpful for students to think about their assignments differently. Thinking about what the assignment is trying to teach them, what the purpose of the class is and reading the syllabus may allow students to see the value in their school work.
“The things in your syllabus are incredibly resourceful,” Rothweiler said. “Especially [because] people never read the course objectives, but if you want to know what the point of this course is, you have to read the course objectives.”
Rothweiler said something she has adjusted to when teaching the psychology 131 course after hearing student feedback is talking more about procrastination. Figuring out how students choose to procrastinate and avoiding those habits is discussed by Rothweiler in her class.
“Finding the behaviors that you like to procrastinate with and preventing yourself from doing them until you have all of your work done is something that I really like to talk with my students about,” Rothweiler said.
While technology often distracts students when trying to focus on work, there are ways it can aide students in their work. Mobile time management apps are an example of how technology can potentially help students stay on top of their school work.
“[Technology] can also be extremely helpful if you use it in the right way,” Toftness said. “It can help you stick to a schedule, for example. It can help you feel more invested in sticking to the schedule.”
One app students use is PocketPoints, which is a free app that rewards students for staying off of their phones. Students earn a certain amount of points based off of how much time they aren’t using their phones, and the points can then be used for student discounts.
Various companies, such as Lulus and Insomnia Cookies, have coupons available on the PocketPoints app. The discounts serve as an incentive for students to avoid going on their phones and instead focus on what school work they need to accomplish.
Another app Toftness said he loves to talk about in his Academic Learning Skills course is called Forest. The app is free on the Google Play Store and costs $1.99 on the App Store.
In the Forest app, a virtual tree is planted as a seed and it grows over the course of a predetermined time. The tree will die if the person exits out of the app.
Forest is a unique incentive for students to refrain from scrolling through their Instagram feed or checking for notifications. Forest also partners with the Trees for the Future organization to plant real trees, keeping students off their phones and doing good for the planet.
Slipping out of a schedule and routine happens to just about everyone. When busy schedules get overwhelming, students’ academic performance can suffer.
Rothweiler said when life falls into chaos, it comes back to the schedule. When students lose track of their schedule, Rothweiler said the first step is to reevaluate and think about what went wrong and what steps to take to overcome it.
“It’s that part about, ‘What steps do I need to take?’ that leads people to be anxious,” Rothweiler said. “That ‘Can I do these steps? Do I know what I’m doing because now my life is in disarray already, and I am part of the reason that it’s like this.’ And it’s just the willingness to try something new to get yourself back on track is all you need; you have to try it.”
After reevaluating, students can make the needed adjustments to their schedule and rebuild their routines. Students can also reach out to family, friends and instructors for help with their academic struggles or even just talk through their feelings of stress.
Resources on campus that are available for the academic and personal lives of students include the Academic Success Center, Student Counseling Services, academic advisers, Supplemental Instruction sessions, tutors, academic advisers and more.
“The resources are a very good thing to know about before you need them,” Toftness said. “In the same way that once you’ve fallen into a hole, you already want the rope with which to climb out in your backpack; you don’t want to have to make a rope when you’re already in the hole.”
Toftness said he feels like his biggest piece of advice is to talk to other people because they may be going through similar things they can relate to and let them know it is okay to struggle a little bit.