Time Management and Overcommitment

A difficult challenge most students face their first semester is time management. Many Wake Forest students were used to juggling complicated schedules in high school – academics, extracurricular activities, perhaps a part time job or even test prep classes – all the while trying to enjoy their friends and have some fun.

Many students were used to being able to manage these complex and varying priorities in high school and expect it to be the same for them in college. But one of the surprising realities of college life for most students is that they have to work much harder – and for longer periods of time – on academics.

The issue of time in school vs. free time is also a big adjustment.  In high school your Deacs were at school basically all day five days a week, whereas in college they could be in class only a few hours a day, or some days not at all depending on their schedule. Having blocks of ‘open time’ during the day can be difficult to manage.  There are so many delightful distractions in college – clubs, activities, hanging out with friends, pick-up basketball games or lectures or other events – those can fill the time and then the day is gone (and the homework isn’t done).

There is another complication in the time management puzzle:  students are used to near constant multitasking with their computers and cell phones. It seems like a small activity, but with a day-long barrage of text messages, instant messages, emails, snapchats, etc. that can add a substantial amount of time in your student’s day – and interrupt study time.

A few years ago, a faculty member teaching a journalism class challenged her students to go for 48 hours media free – no texting, no internet, no broadcast news. Not surprisingly, most of the students were not able to comply, and many could only withhold from media for just a few hours. Today’s students use texting as their social outlet and information source, so it is a constant presence in their lives.

If your student confides to you that he/she doesn’t have enough time to accomplish everything or feels overextended, you might offer these suggestions:

Schedule study time on his/her calendar. During study time, the student should treat it like an academic class (in other words, he/she is expected to be studying every Monday-Weds-Friday from 10-11 a.m.)

Treat that study time as a ‘media free zone’ – no texting, phone calls, instant messaging or internet (unless it is part of class work). Encourage your student to try that for one week and see if it makes a difference.

Examine whether his/her study habits are truly effective and make changes where appropriate. Is the student studying in Starbucks and easily distracted by people coming and going? If so, consider moving to a different part of the library. Does he/she study on the bed in his/her room but ends up falling asleep? Try working in the Benson Center or a different location on campus that is less comfortable.

Scheduling study time or homework time also can help foil one of college students’ toughest habits to break: procrastination. By waiting until the last minute to study, complete homework or write a paper, students only add more stress to their lives.  If your student tends to procrastinate, there are some helpful resources online with suggestions on how to break the cycle.

And while most Wake Forest students prefer to be busy and like to have a full array of extracurricular activities in which to participate, it is very helpful (at least for the first semester) to make sure that they can manage their academic load.  So if your Deac signed up for 20 clubs and activities at the Student Involvement Fair and finds he/she cannot manage to be in all of them, relay the message that it is OK to drop out of something if it overextends you.

It is all about balance.



To contact the Office of Family Engagement, please visit our contact page.

If Your Student Has a Problem

One of the best ways parents/families can help their students is to let them solve their own problems. Use the Stop, Drop, and Roll method when your student contacts you with a problem.  The flyer also lists contact information for serious concerns where family intervention might be appropriate.

Orientation 2017 slide shows

Select slide shows from Orientation sessions are available online.