Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Time Management: Balancing academics, social life and extracurricular activities

By: Sanghamitra Dutta
Student Ambassador, Carnegie Mellon University

Time management is one of the most crucial aspects of graduate life in US and plays a significant role in your academic success. A graduate student’s life here is hectic with upcoming deadlines, assignments, and submissions throughout the semester, which can be quite different from the education system international students may be used to. 

While the education system in most Asian countries is teacher-centered, the system of education in US is learner-centered. In a teacher-centered classroom, the teacher usually delivers lectures and evaluates the performance of the students based on examinations.

However, in a learner-centered classroom, the process of evaluation is based on the overall performance of the student throughout the year in examinations, projects, class presentations, and participation. Thus, while many international students are used to getting away with studying just before exams in a teacher-centered education system, in the US, it is essential for everyone to participate in the class throughout the year. Hence, it is important to have a proper balance between academics, social life and extracurriculars.

Find a Balance

It is never a good idea to shun all social and extra-curricular activities, projecting your academic workload as an excuse. Such a life can get frustrating, and also lead to health problems evolving from a sedentary lifestyle. It can also be a disaster if you are so involved in extracurriculars that you neglect your academic deadlines, while assuming you can get away with studying just before exams.

Study with a Group

One of the best ways to manage time is to study in groups. Study groups not only distribute an individual’s effort, but also help you also make new social and professional connections.

Maintain a Consistent Schedule

It is important to find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. Skipping meals or having random sleep cycles is not very effective. Eat well and also exercise regularly. It is also not wise to schedule too many appointments or tasks at the same time. You should only get involved in activities you are really passionate about. Learn to prioritize.

Balance Coursework

As far as courses are concerned, it is important to balance your effort in different components based on their importance. For example, if a course puts more weight on projects than written tests, then it’s more important to devote more of your time to the projects than preparing for exams. Sometimes I see people skipping lectures to make time for other assignments, hoping to study those topics later. I would never recommend this as regularly attending classes makes the topic much simpler to study, even if there are video lectures available!

Have the Right Attitude

Most importantly, it is essential to believe that you can manage your time and be optimistic. Push yourself rather than giving up most activities without exploring. Procrastination and pessimism are the biggest hindrance to effective time management.

Sanghamitra Dutta, originally from India, is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments posted on wesstudentadvisor.org may be moderated.

Like us on Facebook for exclusive content from U.S. Admissions Experts!