Building a Weekly/Monthly Schedule

High School versus University

One of the big differences between high school and university is that you become responsible for scheduling your time and making sure you know when all assignments and activities are due. University instructors will not make a schedule or remind you of due dates. It is critical to your success in your first year to find a strategy for scheduling your time that works for you.

How Much Planning Do You Need to Do?

There are many different ways you can schedule your time. It is important to think about how much structure you need and plan according to your needs. Some people will be alright with a monthly or weekly schedule, others will want to schedule each of their days, and still others may want a more detailed hourly time plan. 

Choose Your Tools

Think carefully about how you want to create your schedule. Some people prefer to make their schedules on paper, while others prefer to create them digitally. Having a digital version in Google or iCalendar might be handy, but it could be distracting if you also get notifications from other tools when you access your calendar. 

Creating a Study Schedule

Step 1 - Review Your Course Outlines/Syllabi for the Term

At the beginning of your first class your instructor will provide a course outline or syllabus that outlines all the major assignment and test due dates. Collect all your course outlines together and write all of your due dates into the tool of your choice. It is also a good idea to add in things you know will be happening during the term - like travel plans, recreational team games and practices or scheduled appointments.

Step 2 - Create Assignment Tasks and Study Goals

Using your Term plan, think about breaking assignments into manageable piece and create study tasks before exams that can be spread out over a number of weeks. 

Step 3 - Create a Weekly Schedule

Now that you know what’s coming up, create a schedule of what a “normal” week would look like. Put in all of the things that won’t change - like classes and labs - but also make sure to include: travel time to and from your classes and other commitments work and/or volunteer hours, regular meetings, sleep, mealtimes, if fixed (factor in time for prep and cleanup) and anything else you do every week at the same time. Now, look at the time you have left. That is the time you have to study, complete assignments and socialize with family or friends.

Step 4 - Schedule Your Study Time

Think about where and when you study best. Are you a morning person, or a night owl? Do you think you will be able to focus on studying after finishing a work or volunteer shift? Will one of your locations be too distracting to study in and you will have to travel to and from a less distracting location? A full-time student taking 5 courses should expect to be devoting at least 35 hours a week to their classes - not just “in class” time, but also reviewing studying and completing assignments. Remember to schedule breaks, time to relax, or time to do something you enjoy as well. It is important to your health and wellness!

Step 5 - Create Weekly or Daily Schedules for the Term

Now that you know what major assignments are coming (Step 1) and how you plan to get them done (Step 2), you can use your weekly study schedule (Steps 3 and 4) to make sure you have enough time to complete everything you have set out to do. At this stage, make sure to include things that do change in specific weeks, like shift work hours or the other non-academic commitments that you identified in Step 1.