As far-fetched as that scenario might seem, I do want to address a topic that sometimes receives eye rolls: time management during spring break. Although some students might see studying over “their” break as unreasonable, I’ll lay out my case as to why it is necessary.
Spring break is nothing more and nothing less than five days without scheduled classes. So, that doesn’t mean that there will be any less work when students return to campus. In fact, some professors may wait until after spring break to schedule tests, reasoning that students will have more time to study. So, there may be even more to do the week after spring break than in a “typical” week.
I tell students to consider what is due the week after spring break. Then, I have them write down everything they absolutely must accomplish—studying for a test, reading X pages, writing an essay, practicing a speech. Next, I tell them to estimate the number of hours it will take them to thoroughly complete that work and make sure that they have at least that time budgeted into their week. Finally, I ask students if the number of hours they estimated is more or less studying than they would do on a typical weekend. If it is less, I suggest that they add the difference. It makes sense to plan to spend at least the same amount of time studying over spring break than one does on a typical weekend.
For students still buying in at this point, and especially for those without “big plans” over spring break, I go a little further to suggest that they look ahead in their calendars to see what’s coming up. Some productive ways to work ahead are:
- Start an essay—Simply looking over an assignment prompt and brainstorming for ideas in advance of a due date can save a lot of precious writing time later
- Start a research project—Our library databases are accessible to all students from any computer with internet access. Just because your student can’t go to the library, doesn’t mean he/she can’t use the resources!
- Complete required reading—Many students say they don’t like to read ahead because they won’t remember what they read. Reading ahead can be productive if it is done actively—by taking good notes and annotating the text. Then, when the reading is due, quickly scanning the text and the notes will help jog one’s memory.
- Organize and re-read notes—Just re-reading notes can help students learn material. Organizing notes can also consist of typing them out.
- Another active studying technique is making flashcards— This forces students to both organize information and review it. Making them well in advance of a test will also save precious study time later.
I hope my suggestion to use spring break as a productive time doesn’t sound as crazy now as it did at the beginning. Encourage your students not to check-out over break—there is plenty of time for resting, relaxing, socializing, and studying!