How to complete your coursework on time

Jul 15, 2013
There is nothing more exciting than being on your own for the first time. For many, college is the first time when you are truly in control of your life, but with that comes the realization that you are on your own, literally. College is a time of great growth and maturity. You will learn many different life skills during your academic career, chief among them is time management. Never before have you had so many different demands on your time. Learning the appropriate way to focus your time, allocate it, and be responsible for it, is the only way to survive the next four years of your life. The most important part of your academic career is managing your time to complete your coursework, on time.
Ever semester will bring with it a new set of courses and coursework that needs to be completed. Each professor will have their own style for completion. Some instructors like to micromanage your time, having specific dates for completion of tasks, requiring attendance, and having timely assignments throughout the class. Other professors will hand out a syllabus and turn you lose. Sometimes those courses are the hardest ones. Although at first glance they seem to be the ones that give you the most flexibility, they can be the ones which are the hardest to stay on task and to manage your time best to complete the assignments on time and with your best ability.

What types of coursework will you have?

There are many different types of coursework and assignments that may be made in an academic setting such as college. Professors can be straightforward with their assignments, or they may ask that you be more creative and put forth more effort to complete assignments. For many courses, there will be more required than just a test, or an exam for completion. Some will require other coursework such as:
  • Daily assignments and questions
  • Papers
  • Group projects
  • Research
  • Literature searches
  • Critiques
  • Creative presentations
  • Attendance at outside functions
  • Volunteering
  • Work in the community
These are only a few of things that a professor can require of their students. Often times, when taking more than one course a semester, you can have a combination of many of these for different classes. It is easy to see why completion of everything you need to do can sometimes be overwhelming and difficult. Keeping it all into perspective and putting the appropriate time aside to get things done will aid you in keeping on task.

What can you do to better manage your time?

The best way to stay on task to make sure you complete everything on time is to plan ahead. There is a reason why professors give you syllabuses. They know that you will have more than just their class. It is a way for them to give you the tools needed to manage your time. If you outline all the requirements you have into one cohesive schedule, it will aid you in getting it all done. It is best to:
  • Develop a schedule of major coursework deadlines
  • Make an outline for each individual assignments
  • Set a time aside each day with a schedule of priorities
  • Write everything down and keep it with you - college is not a time to fly by the seat of your pants. Even if that is how you are used to doing things, it is important to start writing everything down to have in front of you
  • When registering for courses don't take all the ones with heavy requirements in the same semester - ask around before you register
  • Do things ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute

The best way to not fall into common pitfalls is to

  • Not wait until the last minute
  • Assume that you know how much time something will take if you haven't started
  • Think you can cram the way you did in high school
  • Take too many courses in one semester - everyone is in a hurry to graduate, but you have to be realistic
  • Start right away on your syllabus
  • Ask for help when needed
  • In group projects don't assume that the other parts of the group are as responsible as you are
  • Have it done in advance so you have time to proofread
Most college students make the mistake of waiting until the very last second to complete their work. If you do that, any thing that you don't understand, or can't find, will put a major kink in your work and can delay you from finishing on time. It is no longer appropriate to wait until the night before and think you can cram. College is a time to plan ahead and for the unexpected. Always expect the unexpected. It is best to get to know some upper class men in your selected field of study. They can help to guide you to the classes which will have the most coursework involved. The way that you schedule your classes is just as important as time management. Finding out what the syllabus will entail is usually as easy as going to the library and looking up the professor's previous syllabus.


College is nothing like high school when it comes to the coursework that is involved. There is not going to be any professor, or parent, standing over you making sure that you have your work completed, or that you are not procrastinating. College is about growing up and taking responsibility for yourself and your obligations. Completing your coursework on time is part of that responsibility. Writing everything down, and planning ahead, are the only ways that you are going to survive the next four years of your life. Being much more involved, the assignments that you will be given in college are those which will span an entire semester. Often times just one or two assignments will be what your grade is based on, there will be no wiggle room when it comes to handing them in on time and having them completed with excellence.
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