Spring is upon us and in university life that means intersession courses. Intersession courses can be an amazing way to lighten your course load during the school year or to complete some of your program requirements ahead of schedule. With that being said, intersession courses bring unique challenges for students, as the course requirements must be completed in half the amount of time of a traditional 12-week course. This fast-paced structure makes it easy for students to fall behind, so I thought I would share some tips for managing the intersession course workload.
- Don’t wait to get organized
The earlier you get organized for your intersession courses, the better experience you’ll have. Here at the Centre for Student Success we can help you become and stay organized. In addition to writing appointments, we also offer study skills appointments that can include working one-on-one to develop a personalized study schedule. The personalized study schedule can be whatever works for you; it could be a term calendar to keep track of assignment due dates or maybe a reading schedule to help guide your weekly readings. It could also be a detailed weekly schedule to help you outline dedicated study time while making time for fun as well.
If you want to develop a weekly schedule, start by plotting the fixed events first. These would include events that are consistent in your schedule such as lectures or extra-curricular activities. Then add in study time. Remember, the general rule is that every 1 hour of lecture should be followed with 2-3 hours of studying. You can begin with outlining general study time and then use a prioritized task list every week to further specify what you’ll use your study time for. The prioritized task list will be explained more later on in this post.
Here is an example of a weekly schedule for intersession courses:
Although intersession courses require more of a time commitment, they are short term and the increased workload doesn’t last forever. However if you decide to commit to intersession courses, they will need to be a priority so that you don’t fall behind. In Practicing College Study Skills, Carolyn Hopper (2001) suggests that developing a daily task list and ordering it from most pressing to least pressing can be helpful. This will not only show you what you need to work on, but also help you determine how your time should be spent. This daily (or weekly) task list works well in combination with the term calendars we offer in the centre, as you can develop your daily task list based upon your due dates.
Example task list:
1= Most pressing 6= Least pressing
|Complete week 3 readings for BF199||5|
|Get a head start on CC100 assignment due June 8th||6|
|Study for LY101 midterm- May 16th||2|
|Review lecture notes from BF190||1|
|Review lecture notes from CC100||3|
|Review lecture notes from LY101||4|
- Be specific with your studying
Intersession courses fly by, which means you’ll have to make the most of your time in order to keep up with the pace of the course. In order to make the most of your time, your study time has to be specific and purposeful. Rather than just schedule study time, make a point to outline what exactly you will use that time for. This can be to study a specific chapter, or get to a certain point in an assignment; it doesn’t matter, as long as you have a plan. This approach is much more goal-oriented and will prevent you from deciding your study time is finished when it’s really not (come on, we are all guilty of this!). The prioritized task list is a great tool to help you get started on this, as you will be able to see what’s most important and direct your study time to match.
You can see how this weekly schedule differs from the one posted above. Rather than just including general study time, this schedule has incorporated the prioritized task list and specified what each block of study time will be used to complete to help ensure that your study time will be used effectively.
Weekly schedule incorporating prioritized task list:
- Be aware of “time wasters”
With half as much time to complete course requirements, procrastination can really get in the way of success. Hopper outlines “time wasters”, which are situations that can throw your study time off track (Hopper, 2001). These might include things like browsing the internet, texting or taking naps (Hopper, 2001). In order to deal with these “time wasters”, Hopper suggests that it’s a good idea to make a plan of action if you do find yourself resorting to familiar procrastination or distraction tactics (Hopper, 2001). For most of us, we already know how we procrastinate or what most distracts us. Write these down and make a plan for what to do if you see these happening (Hopper, 2001). For example if you find that texting is a form of procrastination for you, your plan could be to put your phone notifications on silent during your study time or put the phone in another room so it’s not so tempting. Simply being aware of your personal “time wasters” and developing a plan to stop them can really help you stay on track.
With hard work and dedication you will be able to cruise through your intersession courses this spring! Remember, the Centre for Student Success is always here for all of your writing and study skill concerns. Feel free to stop by the centre or to use our online booking system to schedule a one-on-one appointment.
Hopper, C.H. (2001). Practicing college study skills (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.