B2SB: How to be a Productive College Student

By Rachael Gerron
Web Content Contributor

There are so many things to look forward to as an incoming freshman. One of which being the independence that you didn’t have in high school. This means no longer getting in trouble for wearing leggings to class or having a teacher decide when you are allowed to go to the restroom (two things I despised about high school). 

While this freedom is exciting, it also comes with a huge amount of personal responsibility for your productivity. The college workload can be a bit jarring to incoming freshmen who aren’t used to it from high school (I know I wasn’t).

In a segment for KTSW’s Back to School Broadcast, fellow web content contributor, Andie Mau, and I were interviewed by producer, Adam Snydar, about our freshmen experiences and our advice on how to stay productive in college. I compiled a list of some of the best advice from this segment, as well as a few tips that we didn’t mention on-air. 

Do you have any productivity routines?

Yes! Routines are so important for productivity. I always like to make coffee before starting any work or studying I have to do (click here to read my iced coffee recipe!) 

It’s also important to have a workspace specifically for school work. While it’s tempting to sit in your comfortable bed, it can actually be detrimental to your productivity and your sleep. 

A few times last year I came back to my dorm to study between classes, but once I sat on my bed it was game-over. Study time became nap time. 

How do you prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed?

It is very easy to be overwhelmed by the college workload and while it isn’t always avoidable, there are some things you can do to be proactive. 

First, get a planner. I prefer a physical planner, but you can even use digital planners such as Google Calendar. This keeps due dates and schedules easily accessible, and you don’t have to rely on your memory to keep up with them. 

Especially now, in the middle of a pandemic, things are “subject to change” at any time and some things are even still “to be determined,” so don’t expect everything to work out exactly as you planned. Just plan what you can and it will help make sudden changes easier to deal with. 

Andie also advised students who are overwhelmed with a specific assignment to consult with classmates. At the beginning of the semester, if no one else has already done it, create a Group Me for the class. This is a great way to connect with classmates and collaborate on assignments if the teacher allows it. 

How do you balance school, work and social life?

School/Work: Again, plan what you can. Write in your work schedule and plan times to complete schoolwork. I would also recommend having a weekly to-do list. My major requires a lot of creativity and I can’t really plan a time to be creative. This is where a list comes in handy because you can cross things off as you do them; basically, it’s a little less structured than a planner, but it still keeps upcoming assignments in your peripheral. 

Social Life: A lot of my social life is pretty spontaneous, but there are still things I can plan for. My friends and I watch the Bachelor together every Monday, so I even put that in my planner. This may sound weird, but it really helps when you’re planning time to complete assignments.

How do you prevent yourself from getting distracted from work? 

It is so easy to get distracted in college because there is so much more going on. I would recommend trying out different study environments and seeing which ones are the best for you. You might find that you get distracted when studying with friends, or that you get more distracted when studying alone. We are all different, so the most important thing is to find out what works best for you and stick to that. 

Andie also pointed out that it’s especially easy to get distracted with virtual learning. You can so easily turn off the camera on Zoom, go into another tab and just completely forget about your class. She recommends keeping one window open only for school and one window for entertainment. That way you don’t have anything tempting you while you’re in class or doing work. 

Final Advice?

Start brainstorming assignments as soon as the teacher talks about them. In college, due dates are often weeks or months after an assignment is explained, so don’t wait until the last minute to start because you’ll have more questions and less time to ask those questions. 

If you’d like to hear this interview in full, as well as many other topics discussed in the Back to School Broadcast, tune in to KTSW FM89.9 from August 16-19, from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.. You can also listen from home here!

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