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Study tips for students with a full-time job

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There is an old saying that rings very true:

“If you need something done, give the task to a busy person.”

Why? Because busy people have the skills to set priorities, make use of every waking minute, and know how to schedule their time to accomplish much more than the average person. The same goes for students who take on a full load of college work along with a full-time job, and possibly other responsibilities such as a spouse and kids. If you are in this situation, you have chosen to take on the monumental task of putting one more huge thing “on your plate” for a larger goal – that college degree and a better future. Now, here are five essential tips for studying smarter and using time appropriately.

  1. Schedule study time

You will find, if you look at your day and evening schedule, that there are a number of hours that are just not allocated to any specific thing. Maybe you spend those hours watching television, playing video games, having long conversations outside with your neighbors, spending time responding to every post on Facebook, etc. You need to begin by creating a log of everything you do when not at work, over a period of a week or so. Look at that log. What can you easily cut out? You will no doubt find several hours of “down-time” that can be scheduled into study time. Take those hours, turn them into a study time schedule, and stick to it!

  1. Plug yourself in

Get audio versions of all of your text books; record important class lectures; record your own summaries of the important stuff you have read or your class notes. Plug yourself in while you commute to and from work, while you jog, or while you are on the treadmill at the gym. Plug yourself in while you do yard work or clean the garage. The more you hear information, the better you will remember it for that exam. And don’t forget those waits in dentist and doctor offices. If you always have your device handy, you can take advantage of every opportunity.

  1. Know when and where you can get quality study time in

If you have young children, your study time is obviously after they are in bed at night. If you have older children, you study when they are engaged in their homework. If your house is too busy in the evenings, plan to go to the library a couple of evenings a week, and leave your spouse in charge of the household. You can always trade off at other times, like when you have vacation breaks.

  1. Plan ahead for those “crunch” times

Save your vacation and personal days at work and use them when big papers are due or it’s time for final exams. And, if you are a reasonably reliable employee, you may just need to call in sick. Save those sick days – go in even when you have that bad cold – you will be happy to have that sick day later on.

  1. Get up an hour earlier

Set up your coffee pot the night before. Get up an hour earlier than anyone else in the household. This one hour, without any peripheral noise, when you are “fresh”, is perhaps the best hour of the day for quality study time. You will be amazed at how much you can absorb and retain with just this one re-adjustment in your schedule.

Are you one of those students with a full-time job? How do you cope with it and keep the balance? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: erink_photography / Flickr

Julie EllisStudy tips for students with a full-time job

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