Ever had that eye-roll worthy conversation with that one friend who is either super pumped or super stressed over life because he/she is taking 4 (sometimes 5) classes? And you’re sitting there thinking to yourself one of two things : “How could you possibly be thrilled about 4 classes?” OR “Well you may be stressed out, but you did this to yourself.”
Don’t fool yourself, we’ve all been there. Even if you are one of those eye-roll inducing overachievers who DO take 4 classes a quarter – like myself – it probably didn’t start that way. Or maybe you’re taking 4 classes just for the fun of it or to graduate early. Odds are, you had some sort of initial doubt about putting yourself headfirst into 4 classes. But once you got the hang of it, piece of cake, right?
So how do we do it?
Step 1. Get your head on straight.
Going into 4 or 5 classes is not an easy thing to do. Anyone who says it’s a breeze is most likely trying to play it cool. You have to know what you’re getting yourself into before you decide to take on the world. A good idea before committing yourself to your classes is to check out the syllabi and make sure that the workload seems do-able to you and that you’ll be able to do your best work in every class, not just an average “okay” throughout the 4. Otherwise, it could have a negative affect on you and your GPA.
Step 2. Choose wisely.
Do make sure that you take classes that contrast each other. Could you imagine taking two Life Science classes or two Economics classes in one quarter? Of course, most of the time, the goal is to knock out as many requirements as possible, but unless you’re very good at mental organization, I would imagine that it’s not fun to constantly be asking yourself “Oh gosh, which reading is this one for, again?” or “Wait, is this assignment for LS 1 or LS 2?” Another thing to keep in mind is conflicting midterms/finals. You do not want to walk into a situation where you have two midterms or finals at the same time or a situation where you have 4 finals in two days. That could get rough. It may be better for you to have them spread out a little.
Step 3. Manage your time efficiently.
This does not mean spend every second of your day studying! Everyone needs a break once in a while, and trust me.. It IS POSSIBLE to have a life while taking so many classes. A beach day, a Netflix day, a Starbucks break, a nap, even an entire weekend break is possible if you build good time management skills. Some key things to remember when planning your schedule is to always have assignments written down days in advance, always know how long you have between midterms and finals to study for the next one. Spread your workload out so that your days are an equal balance of work and play, and so you’re not left doing 5 assignments in one night when you could have started 3 of those assignments a week ago.
Step 4. Prioritize.
Don’t assume that the most important things are always the big projects. Of course, something that is worth 30% of your grade is going to be a big focus of yours, but don’t neglect the smaller percentages and end up with a 5% dock in your grade because you didn’t do simple homework. The key to prioritization is to think in baby steps rather than just focusing on having twenty things to do by the end of the week. Everyone is different, but something that can really help is having a to do list. Obviously the things due the soonest should take precedence over the things due next week. From there, it’s easier (for me, at least) to knockout the easier assignments first to get them out of the way. No one wants to spend 8 hours writing a 10 page paper, and then realize that you have another 3 shorter assignments to complete.
Step 5. Breathe.
Breathe, because stress takes over like a disease, and nobody wants their college experience to be a constant ball of stress and exhaustion. Know your limits, know when to take mental breaks, and have self-confidence. One day you’ll be one of those eye-roll inducing people who say “oh yeah, four classes is a breeze.”