1. Schedule time for Jesus…
I cannot stress the importance of this enough. When things are out of balance with Jesus, things are out of balance on all fronts. Sometimes the enemy tries to use a busy schedule to distract us from the reality of our need for intentional time with our creator. Devoting a section of your day to time spent with Christ will keep your whole schedule centered on what really matters. A psychological tip for keeping your appointment with the Lord every morning, afternoon, or evening is: wake up at the same time every day. I know what you are thinking even on the weekends!? It might seem crazy but waking up at the same time every day has amazing health benefits! Plus, you can always catch a nap on the weekends 😉 Waking up at the same time every day is a great way to ensure time with the Lord. If you are like me and there is no way you will get out of bed by your own free will buy a real alarm clock (don’t use the one on your phone) and place it across the room so you have to get up to turn it off. Hopefully, this tactic doesn’t disturb your roommate (sorry in advance if it does!). Misery loves company though, right? Employing your roommate as your accountability is another great way to count on waking up at the same time every day and establishing time with Jesus.
I would also encourage you to have your devotional time with the Lord somewhere outside of your room. I like to sit at my kitchen table. I get breakfast cooking (eggs and potatoes cooking coconut oil always, yum!), I start my coffee, and I open my bible for some light reading. When I find myself losing focus, I will check on breakfast, retrieve some of the brewing coffee, or take a drink of cold water. With regained focused I finish my reading and try (emphasis on the try) to pray and wait on the Lord. Silence is SO uncomfortable and my mind wanders allll over the place in the morning so prayer and quiet time waiting for the Lord to speak can feel like agony. Despite my restlessness disposition during morning quiet time, the best mornings, in my opinion, are spent hearing from the Lord. Whether a passage of scripture inspires you or you receive a word in your soul, hearing from the Lord starts the day off on a sweet note.
Feel free to practice your devotional time whenever is most beneficial for you. If checking in with the Lord before bed feeds your soul best then, by all means, establish a nighttime routine with Jesus! Maybe spending the lunch hour in intentional time with the Lord suits you best. Hav at it! There is no right or wrong time to check in with the Lord and hear what He might have to say to you.
2. Schedule Your Classes During Your Most Productive Time of Day…
After you have scheduled your daily devotional time, consider when you will attend classes. If you are not a morning person, I would not recommend taking morning classes. Novel thought, eh? Your freshman year you will likely have to take a bunch of general courses that potentially have no impact on your actual major, but those courses will affect your GPA. Some of these courses will only be offered during certain hours. If possible, avoid taking classes during your least productive hours of the day and opt for an online course instead. Many universities and colleges offer freshman courses like public speaking, psychology, biology, algebra, and much more online. If you can manage your time well, I highly recommend opting for online courses. You can head to the library during your most productive time of day and bust out as many assignments as you would like!
What if you don’t know what your most productive time of day is? Consider the classes that you enjoyed the most and performed the best in during your high school career. Or maybe consider the opposite. What were your least enjoyable and productive courses? I loved English in high school and I even took honors English courses, but the year I had English directly after lunch I performed poorly. I am usually ready for a nap after lunch, so taking a rigorous course around the hour of 1 o’clock was detrimental to my studies. Once, I got to college, I learned that classes between the hours of 9 and eleven in the morning work best for me. If I register for classes that have to be attended in person, I do my best to make sure that I schedule these classes in the morning. I have also learned that online classes are extremely beneficial for me. Most online classes can be completed at your leisure with the exception of tests, quizzes, and assignment due dates. I can’t think of a better learning forum than in the comfort of your home, in some sweats, sipping coffee, and taking breaks as frequently as you like without missing a bit of information!
Anyway, I’ll digress from my online soap box, but the point still stands that scheduling classes during the hours that you learn best will promote better retention of information and, likely, a better grade report.
3. Margin, margin, margin…
Alright, you set up time with Jesus, you assembled the most an optimal class schedule for your learning, now what? You need some downtime girl! This tip might seem unrealistic for some of you, but, in hindsight, I wish I had not been so busy during my freshman year of college. I wish I had set better boundaries around my time and created some breathing room for the transition from high school into college. To clarify this point a bit, I am a student athlete, so trying to work, run competitively, participate in athletic-related committees, and carry fifteen credits my first semester of college was too much for me. I tend to overbook and overwork myself, so if you are anything like me, working, plus extra curricular, plus academic life doesn’t sound so bad. Believe me friends, college is much more demanding than high school. In high school, I worked approximately fifteen hours a week, I ran varsity track and cross country, I took honors courses, and I was a member of several auditioned acapella choirs throughout the years. Once I began college, I decided to keep up the furious pace of an overbooked, overworked young person. It didn’t take long for my furious pace to catch up with me. I was running seven days a week, racing most weekends, working a few hours here and there (only about five to fifteen hours a week), attending and volunteering at church, and juggling a mix of in-class and online coursework. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely spent too much time on Facebook and watching Netflix, but the furious pace of work, compete, volunteer, study repeat caught up to me and I missed out on the joy of being a freshman.
Pushing myself so hard has afforded me the ability to graduate early and get ahead of the curve, but in exchange, I missed out on investing in myself and seeking out opportunities that might have benefitted me more in the long term.
So be selfish with your time freshman year. Work if you have to but don’t overload yourself with an agenda that looks good on a resume. You only get to be a freshman once and you only get to experience college for the first time once. I’m not advocating that you be reckless and irresponsible. Rather, I would like to encourage you to embrace adulthood. Make connections in the community and in your field of interest. Rather than working yourself to the bone to arrive at the finish line of college breathless and starving for the adventure of young adulthood that you might have let pass by.
College is truly the best time of your life. You get your feet wet with adulthood before actually being thrown to the wolves. Enjoy your time in college and remember to schedule wisely! Making Jesus your priority, scheduling according to your ideal hours of productivity, and making room for margin will absolutely set you up for success and make the journey through your first year of college much easier.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your first semester schedule don’t hesitate to contact me! I would love to hear from you if you have any hacks for scheduling the freshman year of college for success!