The right balance

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The right balance


8 November 2017

Time management is one of the most important skills you’ll need at university. As a student, you’ll learn to juggle lectures, readings and assignments – plus your work, family and social life, of course.

But if you are working too many hours, it can be easy to upset the balance. Here’s a guide to finding what’s right for you.

How much time does uni really take?

As a general rule, full-time students should be spending 40 hours per week (10 hours per course or subject) on university study. That includes attending lectures and tutorials, private study and completing assignments. Add in your travel time to and from campus and you’ll see you already have the equivalent of a full-time job – and then some.

Some programs also include internships or work placements that are completed in full-time ‘blocks’, which might limit your availability for outside work.

How many hours should you work?

Many students need to work to get by financially (or so they can afford to have some fun). Some people find that balancing work and study helps them stay organised and reduces the temptation to procrastinate. Plus, having relevant work experience under your belt will help you stand out in the graduate job market.

People’s circumstances vary, and some students can cope with more work hours than others. Research about students’ working hours has shown that working up to 8-10 hours per week doesn’t have a huge impact on students’ academic performance. However, working more than 15-20 hours per week can limit students’ ability to successfully complete their courses.

If your employer or financial circumstances require you to work 20 hours or more, consider only enrolling in two or three courses per semester*. It will take slightly longer to complete your degree, but you’ll give yourself a much better chance at success.

Plan for success

In all cases, the key is good planning and time management – and realistic expectations around what you can achieve each week.

If you’re worried about time management, the new year is a great time to start thinking about your routine. Buy a 2018 diary or download a time-tracking app. Start recording how many hours each week you spend on different tasks (yes, social media and Netflix do count). Once you have a realistic idea of where your time is currently going, you’ll be able to see where you can free up hours for study.

If you’re planning to make big changes to your routine – for example, getting up an hour earlier to study, or completing readings at night after the kids have gone to bed – start forming those habits now. This gives you enough time to adjust to the change, so you can hit the ground running once the semester starts.

*Note: If you are receiving Centrelink payments, the number of courses you study may impact your payments.


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