Study Tips for Honors Students

Written by:
Dr. Carrie Arnold, advisor at the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs, and National Council Professional Member-at-Large

It’s that lovely time of year again. The fresh smell of pencils, the bright white notebook paper, and 30 pounds of books in your new, updated, suitcase… I mean, backpack. Ahhh, a new academic semester!  

As ALDers, academics are important to you and so is your time. How do you manage your heavy course load, the clubs and organizations you are involved in, and perhaps an on/off campus job? It may be daunting to think about everything you have to do, and now that you have all of your syllabi in hand, campus events, and work calendar, how do you make sure you can get everything done, maintain your GPA, and still possibly, maybe have fun?

Time Management. It’s not a fancy concept; it’s an essential component of success. The key to time management is a planner. It can be electronic, paper, or a dry erase board. Whatever you feel most comfortable using will work. I, personally, am a fan of both. I have a paper planner, but I also use my Outlook calendar. If you need to write things down in order to remember them, a paper planner may be best. Some colleges and universities give them away free each year or you can purchase one at your bookstore or local Target. There is an infinite number of types of paper planners. For those of you who prefer to have your planner at your fingertips (e.g., on your iPhone or Android), there are apps that would work better for you.

However, time management goes beyond a planner. Having a planner is step 1, actually using the planner is step 2! One thing I notice with some of my students is they write down or type in when everything is due. This is great, but you need to take it one step further. You actually need to set aside time in your planner to do the work that is due. If you have math class twice a week and you know you have work to turn in for math class, are you setting aside time in your planner to do the work? 

I’m pretty old school (emphasis on the old), but I still use apps to help me, especially when big projects are due and I really need help focusing. A planner is great for helping with organization, but there are times you may need some additional help. 

Lifehack, an online blog, provides advice on productivity. Kristin O’Donovan of Lifehack shared her picks for the Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools. There were a few new apps and tools that I had not heard of before, but I plan on using them now! Some include:

  • Rescue Time – Monitors your browser use and sends you weekly reports on where you are wasting time.
  • Remember the Milk – Helps you manage multiple tasks across all of your devices.
  • Focus Booster – For those procrastinators out there, this app is for you! It helps you to focus and to reduce your feeling of being overwhelmed by tasks.
  • Toggl – Helps you track the amount of time you are spending on tasks. 
  • Mind42 – Helps you create on a task at hand with the help of Mindmapping.
  • MyLifeOrganized (MLO) – I love this app! I like to write lists, but my problem is I end up with a million lists! This app helps you manage tasks and lists and even helps to prioritize them!
  • Focus at will – This is an absolute must if you have a hard time focusing while studying or doing homework.

A planner and some of the apps above will certainly help you throughout the semester, but especially the first few weeks!

Therefore, if you are feeling overwhelmed, get a planner, download an app, and get organized!