University is more than just a time to study and get good grades. It’s a life experience. So much happens that your course and studies take a backseat when they really shouldn’t. Planning your studies is essential though if you want to graduate with honours.
Over the last few years, I’ve shared a range of tips for creating your study calendar. This post has always been here, since it was published on November 11, 2012. However, it’s taken a backseat. It’s a topic that I rarely revisit, but I really should.
You see, planning your studies is more than creating a study calendar. It’s about planning your week, so you can take advantage of every aspect of university.
Let’s dive right into the planning to help you graduate with honours.
How Much Should You Plan?
Do you plan week by week, month by month or for the whole year?
This isn’t a question that I can answer directly for you, but I can share what I did for university and what I still do now as a business owner.
I planned the majority of my studies by the week. This helped me fit in social events that weren’t on every week and would allow me to plan for away and home basketball games. However, I would have coursework deadlines dates and events that had been planned months in advance in the diary. When it came to those weeks, I could plan around them.
Planning week by week has always allowed me to do last minute trips. I have two daughters, so they’re likely to happen! I can work around others’ schedules that can’t be changed as easily as mine.
Wait for Your Timetable
You can’t realistically plan ahead until you have your timetable if you’re in fulltime or parttime study. You need to know when your lecturers expect you in class.
Once you have your timetable, you’ll have the amount of hours set by the school for study. You can then workout how many hours you need to do on top of that to improve your chances of passing your degree with honours.
Your first and second years will usually have more hours in the classroom than your final year. Your final year is set for your dissertation, where you need to plan a lot more self-study time. I certainly did more self-study in my final year of Aston, and it was up to me when to plan those hours in.
For a fulltime degree, you will need to do 35-40 hours of study a week (think of it like a fulltime job). This will be both structured and self study. If you have 15 hours of lectures a week, you need to make up the other 20-25 hours per week. Planning week by week will allow you to work around various social events to make sure you fit it all in.
Plan Some Breaks in There
You can’t study 24/7; it wears you down and you end up missing out on socialising. You need to plan in some breaks here and there. I found planning week by week useful for setting breaks. I could plan around the assessment weeks and weeks that I had away basketball games (meaning more time travelling, so longer breaks in my study).
I used to always take two nights off a week from studying. The majority of the time they were Monday and Wednesdays – the two student nights out in Birmingham.
I did have a part time job and was part of a military training group, which meant I worked Thursday nights and had weekends away every now and then or I would have shifts at the leisure centre that I worked at every now and then.
I needed to study around those times too, which meant changing my study plan and study on the nights that I preferred to socialise. This was another reason why I had to plan week by week instead of any other way.
When I started at the Open University, it was on a parttime basis. While my study hours cut down, I still needed to plan in breaks. It would have been very easy to do work for most of the day and then go straight into studying and miss out on the life around me.
Something that you should notice is that it is all about planning around your needs and wants.
As well as creating a study plan, so you know which modules you are working on when you do study, I recommend planning out your whole week. This will allow you to fit every aspect of university in and gain the most out of your time. You’ll certainly find it easier to graduate with honours after planning your studies effectively.
Note: This content was updated on April 14, 2017.