High school time management. It may not be something you’ve put too much though in. Well, does this scenario sound familiar? You have about eight or nine hours between the last school bell and a (reasonable) bedtime. In those eight or nine hours, you have to squeeze in meetings and practices for multiple extracurricular activities. You also have several hours’ worth of homework and studying for that full load of AP courses. Don’t forget the couple of hours a week for SAT/ACT prep. What about a little bit of quality family time? Now you can squeeze in some semblance of a social life.
Getting into a top college means earning good grades in tough classes, getting top SAT or ACT scores, and remaining active in multiple extracurricular activities, all of which takes time that you might feel like you just don’t have. The key to success is balance. Read on for some time management tips to help you get through the high school balancing act.
Sometimes it feels like you have to do it all: six AP courses, a dozen extracurricular activities, three or four test prep sessions a week, every social event your friends host, and anything else that lands on your plate. But here’s a secret: it’s okay to say no.
When you’re juggling everything that goes into building an awesome college application, you have to prioritize. Maybe that means taking five AP classes instead of six because you know you can’t handle that much studying during basketball season. Maybe that means focusing on just two or three of your favorite extracurricular activities and dropping the others. Maybe that means doing your SAT prep on the weekends so that you can use weekdays for homework.
The key is to know which obligations are really important and which ones you can let go of. Colleges know that you aren’t superhuman and that there are only 24 hours in a day. You’ll do yourself (and your college aspirations) no good by burning out before you ever step foot on a college campus.
Things suddenly become much more manageable when you put them down on paper. Look ahead each week and create a schedule for yourself. Include everything from team practices and club meetings to study time and test prep. Don’t forget to pencil yourself in for some “me time” and social time – balance means giving yourself breaks, too.
A successful schedule is realistic and flexible. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll actually need for each item to avoid feeling rushed and overwhelmed during the week, and make sure your schedule is flexible so that you can go with the flow when things inevitably don’t go exactly as planned. The point of a schedule is to reduce stress, not to create more stress if you can’t follow your schedule to the letter!
Daily to do lists can help keep you on track, prioritize your obligations, and end the day with a sense of accomplishment. Each day, make a list of the things you need to do. Put your items in order of importance so that you take care of the most vital things first. Include some low-hanging fruit – easy tasks that you absolutely know you’ll get done. As you complete each task, take pride in checking it off the list. At the end of the day, transfer anything that didn’t get done to tomorrow’s to do list and enjoy a sense of accomplishment in looking over all the things you did get done.
There are dozens of apps to help you make and follow through on schedules and to do lists. Pick your favorite so that you can have your plans with you at all times. Be sure to add test dates and project deadlines and to set multiple reminders so that you leave yourself plenty of time to study or to finish projects.
Get enough sleep.
Sleep is too often the first thing to be sacrificed to an overly full schedule, but without enough sleep, everything else gets a lot harder. Schedule in your full eight hours of rest just as you schedule in everything else. Getting enough sleep helps you handle stress, remember information, and stay healthy – all of which helps you succeed during busy high school years.
Bonus tip: Think outside the box.
Let’s say you really want to take AP Psych as an elective to boost your college applications, but you know that you won’t have time for another AP class during the beginning of the school year when you’re running varsity cross country. Come November, you’ll have plenty of time, but by then you’re more than halfway through the semester. Looks like AP Psych will have to be one of the things you sacrifice, right?
Not necessarily. There are course options outside of high school that you can use to augment your transcript. C2 Education has partnered with K12 International Academy to offer AP Complete, a blended learning solution that combines the flexibility of K12’s top notch online courses and the support of C2’s personalized in-person tutoring. AP Complete allows students to take AP classes on their own schedule, so the student who won’t have time for an extra AP class until November could simply wait and start AP Psych after the cross country season is over.
With a little creativity, there’s almost always a solution to a full schedule. Visit your local C2 Education center today for help with the high school balancing act.