During my first three years in college, I have experimented with different methods to manage my time most effectively and be efficient. I am a Biology major with two minors. I am also a part of the swim team, acapella group, science club, Cavs4LIFE club, Honors Program, and I work as a student ambassador, student blogger, and peer tutor. Managing my time properly has been crucial for me to do well and keep my grades up.
The number one thing that has worked for me is getting and using a planner. Athletes at Cabrini get a new planner for free every year that you can use, but you can also buy a new one from Amazon or Walmart for as little as $5. If you have an iPad or MacBook, you can also get digital planners and use apps like Notion or Google Calendar that can be linked to all of your devices. When it comes to a planner, it is important that you follow it and keep it updated every week. Here are the steps I take to fill in and follow my planner:
- Before the school year begins, I make a daily schedule that includes my classes, practice times, club meetings, and shifts. This way, I know what my day will look like so I can plan out each day accordingly.
- During the first week of school, I take all of my syllabi and color code each class. Using each designated color, I fill in each important exam or quiz for each week in the month section. I then mark each homework assignment due with a specific symbol, like a star or circle, using the designated color, and will use this as a reference when filling in my daily schedule.
- Since the swim season starts in September, we get our practice and meet schedule during the first few weeks of the semester. Once I have that schedule, I fill in my meet days on the month sections and the practice times on my daily schedule.
- The Sunday before each new week, l will look at my monthly spread and write out each assignment or exam coming up that week and make a daily checklist of everything I need to complete. I keep my schedule for the day in mind and put things on my to-do list either during a long break between classes or after swim practice and dinner. I also add everything to my Google Calendar so that I can access it on my phone, computer, and iPad, as well as get notifications for upcoming assignments.
Another important step for athletes specifically is to go to study halls with your team. Most first-year students will have a mandatory study hall once or twice weekly. These study halls are really helpful your first year because they give you scheduled time each week to sit down and do work without interruptions. Many upperclassmen continue to go to study halls even if it is not mandated because they prove to be really helpful, especially during busy weeks of the season.
Lastly, talk to your coaches. They are extremely understanding because they know that you are a student first and an athlete second. If you are struggling with a class, let them know, and they will help get you the resources needed to improve your grades. Remember, you cannot compete or practice with your team if you do not have a good GPA.
Learning how to balance being a student and an athlete in college can be difficult. However, you will be surrounded by a community that wants nothing but to see you succeed. Use the resources around you, like the tutoring center, study hall, and professor's office hours, to keep your grades up so you can continue participating in the sport you love.