Often times, the biggest challenge students face is juggling competing demands for time. It is especially important to be realistic about all these demands. How much time do university courses require? If your student has a total of 14 to 18 hours of scheduled class time each week, a guideline is to allocate two hours outside of class for every hour in class to complete the associated work (i.e., reading the textbook, doing problems, using the study guide). This is only a guideline. Some courses may require more (or less) independent work; some students may require more (or less) time to complete course tasks. This guideline is still useful for anticipating how much time to initially allocate to their studies. If they have greater than 18 hours per week of scheduled class time, students should aim for a total of 45 to 50 hours in and out of classes on coursework. As the term unfolds, adjustments can be made as warranted.
If your student is registered full-time, school is their primary job. Just like a full-time career, to be successful may require 35 to 55 hours each week. Sound like a lot? Keep in mind that a 40-hour workweek could take the form of five, eight-hour days. This still leaves 16 hours on each of those days and an additional 48 hours each week for other things. While approximately eight hours each day should be spent sleeping, that still leaves plenty of time for sports, clubs, cultural, social, and other activities.
Cramming is stressful and often ineffective at university. Students should prepare for and attend all their classes and spend some time each week learning new material. Learning as they go helps to identify and clarify material they don’t understand early so they build a sound knowledge base. It also reinforces important information as a course unfolds. Beware of courses that your student dislikes or finds particularly challenging. Students should work on them regularly, at a time when their concentration is best and in a place where they won’t be distracted.
Successful students often develop a plan to increase the likelihood that their goals are realized. A goal in itself is not sufficient. Some tools available at the Student Development Centre (SDC) to help students plan include:
* Term calendars; and
* Weekly planners.
Each year many Western students access Learning Skills or Psychological Services. The SDC provides a number of important services that can help your student have the best student experience. Students need to take responsibility for their learning but this does not mean doing everything on their own. Independent students are able to assess when they can benefit from support services and know how to find and ask for help. Encourage your student to become their own best advocate by learning about the different student services at Western and making good use of them.
Students will receive a course outline or syllabus detailing important contact information, due dates and course expectations in each subject. They should keep this outline handy for easy reference; it is their responsibility to keep track of weekly readings, due dates and upcoming tests. Encourage your student to note due dates on a calendar and use a day planner to organize activities through the week. If your student is struggling with their work, they may want to complete the Time Management Assessment to learn ideas for improvement.