Advisees of mine who come in for a discussion of studying habits get a card similar to the one shown. We enter on this card every class period, every important outside activity (such as paying jobs or club meetings), and every personal item occurring regularly, such as church attendance. We also cross out the time for meals, for incidentals such as correspondence, and some traditional recreational time Saturday afternoons and evenings. Blank forms for you to use are found in the back of this book.
Then we list the courses by name on the back of the card, and follow each course with a number arrived at as follows: Count the hours spent in lectures and recitations and double them. Count the lab hours and, without doubling, add that number. Each course then is represented on the back by double the number of class hours plus the number of lab hours, if any. (As study hours are entered, one by one, on the front of the card, deduct from the total that was written after the course name on the back, until all study time is accounted for.) Now locate study time the evening and afternoon before each class meets. The so-called “dead” hours between classes may be used whenever possible, because this frees longer stretches of time elsewhere. Study is also scheduled on weekends where necessary. It astonishes students to find out how many hours there are in a week and how many they have squandered in the past, and how logical such a plan can be. Crowding and “hot spots” in the schedule are minimized. Time for recreation and sleep is ample.
Estimating two hours outside of class for every half hour in class may seem high. It should seem so only to top-quality students. The average student must not assume that he can imitate the study habits of a student with an exceptionally sharp, retentive mind.
At the universities of the Soviet Union, I was impressed by many evidences of the seriousness with which students and authorities regard education. For example, their college catalogs not only indicate the hours and credits in course descriptions, but they also print beside each course the professor’s estimate of the time required in outside work. Then the student and advisor construct a schedule that totals 60 hours a week.
It is hard for us to see how the Soviet students will tolerate such rigorous schedules; they do, and they actually compete strongly among themselves to enter and stay in college. This is because, in the USSR, failure to receive an education is automatically to relegate oneself to a harder, less exciting, and less rewarding life.
Making out your schedule, and sticking to it, is probably the most important single thing you do all term. Take adequate time for it, and follow it!
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