Finding cost saving strategies is critical today especially when you consider the national college graduation rate is less than 40 percent and at the same time student debt continues to increase. Today, even the government website, Scorecard, uses six years as their college graduation benchmark. The best way to save money on college cost is to graduate on time. That sounds so easy yet time management is one of the few lessons that are not taught in our high schools. Scholarships are a different reduction of cost. That is why we are calling this article Scholarship for Time Management.
I had originally written this article six years ago and it was one of the most commented articles that I ever published. Our families with college age children found the article timely and it helped especially with the group of students who were struggling with their new sense of independence. We also found our high school parents were able to implement the time management planner as a skill for their children in preparation for college.
Time Management Importance
Time Management is often a forgotten learning tool in the education process for students. For freshmen in college, this is the first time you have new freedoms which may easily distract you from your classes and studying. For the high school senior, senioritis kicks in at different times of this year depending on the student. In both cases, getting a good lesson in time management is priceless and may even improve your education success.
Often overlooked in the college process is how to graduate on time and the tools needed to achieve that goal. Time Management is one tool which helps both academic and real life success. Our children spend hours on applications, college visits, writing essays, and standardized test prep. We help them get to the starting block but forget to teach them how to run the race.
Running the race and performing well in college is explored in a recent article I read titled, “Why students who do well in high school bomb in college”. The Washington Post article written by Jeff Guo discusses the first year of college and how it can be disappointing for many students. His article is based on The University of Toronto study which sought to find answers on why there was such a wide discrepancy in college performance among students with similar high school records. The article characterized students as either “thrivers” or “divers” and the traits that would predict if a student would perform well in college. As parents, we often only see the abilities of our children and minimize the tools needed to be successful.
I list this article because now is a great time of self-examination for your child as they work to become an adult. Understanding their traits in relation to school success can be transposable to any grade in school. Getting a better understanding of who you are as a student will help you in setting up a time management plan.
Cost of College
As most of you know, I look at college education as an investment and not an entitlement. As an investment, I wanted to give my own children the best chance to be successful. We often worry about which college our children will be accepted to but once accepted forget about the outcome of graduating on time. According to U.S. News, the average tuition and fees at a private college cost $33,635 for the school year 2016-2017.
Today, an extra year is becoming the norm and not the exception. The national average for a student who enters a four year college program and graduates in four years is less than 40 percent. After the fifth year it is about 50 percent and after six years it is less than 60 percent. For the freshmen college student, if you are already having problems and/or have dropped a class, this might be your first identifier of the need of a time management plan for your college academic career.
Determining Year in College by Credits
There are several points that your child needs to become aware of before he or she starts college. First, your college bound student needs to understand what is meant by a 15 credit hour schedule. The credit hours are the number of hours a student is scheduled to be in class per week. Each major determines the number of credits and classes needed to achieve a degree. Typically, a student will need 30 credits a year to graduate in four years. Remember, the best way to pay for college is to graduate in four years.
Time Management Chart
By creating a time management system, the student can better identify their priorities and stay on track. This simple model can help the student get organized and better manage the new freedoms that they face in college. For many students, their parents were the time management tool. Now, you are not there and the cost of failure is much higher. Here is a table that may help the student get organized and create their own plan.
Time Allocation Table
As you can see by the table above, there are significant hours that can be allocated based on a student’s activities. It also shows the number of hours that can be wasted. About 45 percent of a person’s time can be personalized based on a student’s individual needs. This allows a student to see on their own how they spend a typical day.
Now here is where the work begins. It may require breaking habits or readjusting how a student is living their independent life now that they are in college or evaluating the schedule for high school student busy with sports and activities.
Keep this thought in mind when asking your child to do a time management plan. How many New Year’s resolutions have your kept? How many diets have you started and failed. Breaking the smoke habit? I can personally say yes to a few of these resolutions. What this means is that our children may need our help or guidance. By the way, unlike the vices that you are trying to change, if your child does not have good time management and study habits it may cost you an additional year of college. It is a hard way to learn the lesson regarding poor time management.
With any process, there are always rules. Knowledge is the first step in understanding your life patterns but you must be able to implement the process into your life in order for it to be successful. If you can’t implement the process or habit, it is useless.
Earlier in the article, we identified the amount of time you have and how it can be allocated. Understanding how to use your discretionary time is critical to the student’s success. Here are a list of ideas and guidelines that you need to develop for your own time management system based on each person’s habits. You may need to modify some of your habits to be successful.
Listed below are a set of questions to help you customize your time management system. Your success can be better judged when you quantify this personal assessment with the time of day you prefer to do certain activities. You should use these questions to help you complete the time allocation process analysis from above.
Time of the Day Table
In addition to completing the above chart, we also feel that it is good to answer the following questions.
- I am the type of person, who, when a friend asks to go out even while I am studying, I usually…
- When I have free time, I often spend it in the following ways…
- The most frequent interruptions that interfere with what I am doing are…
- I do my best studying/work in the …
- In my past my grades were the best when I did this…
Creating a time log initially may be helpful. This will show how the student spends their time. It will give them a good understanding if the system is working and can be stopped once they settle into a pattern that is successful. You may want to periodically restart a log each new school year to confirm that your time management process is still working.
For me, the change in habits can be the most difficult. In today’s world, we have more distractions than ever before. College students face dorm rooms with constant visitors, the internet, video games, a slew of television programs and other issues. These distractions can result in a lack of planning, inability to prioritize, crisis management and over commitment. Creating a schedule and having a sense of your time commitments will help most people prioritize their life and decisions. It will require a learning curve just like most things in life but with practice will it become a habit.
When you consider the money aspects of this process, it can be better than many scholarships. If you take the average tuition of $25,000, plus room and board cost of $12,000 then add personal expenses of $3,000, the total cost of tuition is $40,000. If we then add in a starting salary of $35,000 that would be forfeited due to the extra year of college, the Scholarship for Time Management could total $75,000.
The important concept to take away from this is to help your high school or college age student prioritize their commitments. Showing them how to focus on their lifetime goals can make them better students and adults. The goal is to graduate in four years with a career that will make them happy, independent and successful in life. We have gotten them to the starting blocks, now let us help them get off to a great start.
A one page document of EFC PLUS Time Management Planner is available for download. Click here: Time Management Planner