Student Snippets

A WINDOW INTO THE DAILY LIFE AND THOUGHTS OF SLIS STUDENTS

Do You Have Time?

Last week, I began a study in the name of science (and academic success)! You see, while counseling with my advisor recently, I was given this handy little factoid that you should expect to spend 10 hours on your coursework for each class, per week (in addition to class time). I had never heard this before! In the following weeks I began to wonder how many hours I was actually spending on my homework. So I decided to pay more attention to my time usage and record hours spent on schoolwork. These are the questions I hoped to answer:

How much time do I spend on schoolwork in a week outside of class?

How difficult is it to achieve the optimal 20 hours?

Are those 20 hours sufficient for completing my assignments?

How is my workflow? How efficiently do I work?

For the purposes of this study, I have not included activities such as reading/responding to school-related email or writing blog posts as part of "homework time." This study is in its early stages and ongoing, but the results have already been illuminating. I've always been one to keep a record of various aspects of my life. I've been keeping journals since forever, and 2016 was the first year I used a paper planner which I love for tracking goals, meals, workouts, and such things. It was a simple matter to begin recording how much time I spent on homework each day.

I have discovered that it really is a challenge to fit in 20 hours, but 17 is fairly realistic. The first full week I got 20 hours but that's only because classes were cancelled (on April Fool's Day, ha!) so I had some extra homework time. This week, I doubt I'll make it to 20, but it seems that 17 hours is sufficient to be prepared for class when it's a "normal" workload week. There will be weeks when a big assignment or presentation is due and I'll probably be busting my booty to squeeze in 20 hours or more.

For me, I find that everything has its trade-off. I'm a stay-at-home mom so it could be argued that I have more control and flexibility in how I incorporate schoolwork into my schedule. The trouble is, everything I'm doing in my life right now is important, and school simply cannot have the top slot. For the large portion of the day when my two young children are awake (about 7am - 8pm) I cannot sit down and give my schoolwork the focus and attention it needs without neglecting my children and household duties to some degree. I made a promise to myself before I started school that I would not let my family bear the burden of my dream to pursue a master's degree. In order to keep that promise, the bulk of my homework is relegated to my small precious window of "discretionary" time (which I used to spend reading, planning, and watching Netflix).

I'm sure all of you understand the struggle of prioritizing and managing your time. Everyone has stuff in their life. Time commitment is obviously a huge consideration when contemplating grad school, and it's hard to get a good idea of what it will actually look like until you're right in the thick of it. I hope some of my observations will help you take a closer look at how you currently use up the hours in your day to determine whether you could fit in school and still be successful. I have tons more to say about this (and a lot more to learn), so stay tuned for future blog posts about goals, productivity, and time management!

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