I began college immediately after highschool graduation for Fall semester due to family expectations- not necessarily because it was what I wanted to do (or even knew what I wanted to do). First semester of college? Easy, I thought, “You pick your own schedule, do what you want, come to class if you feel like it. This is cake.” First mistake. My soon following mistake was taking 12 units my first semester, working part-time (which soon became full-time) and spending every drop of free-time I had going to music festivals, socializing with friends and doing anything other than homework. As class simply was not on my priority list, I didn’t take it seriously as I should have and didn’t set any time aside to get class work. Skipping class was easy and quickly became a bad habit, with music festivals right around the corner my head was in the clouds and school did not exist. I went to any festival I wanted to easy– didn’t go to class the week before or after, used that time to prepare, rest, and catch up on school work. But when one misses consecutive classes for days (or weeks in my case), the day one finally go back to class they’d be completely lost in what they’re supposed to be working on and soon, fall off- which is exactly what happened. Having fun finally caught up to me. I never went back to class and eventually up dropped out.
I was in the last half of my Fall semester by the time I dropped out, I continued to pretend i was going to class so my parents wouldn’t question me.“3 F’s. What a way to start college.” I thought to myself after viewing my fall semester grades,“there is absolutely no way I can fix this…can I? No? It’s over. I need to do real estate…or pursue retail?” In a panic I assumed my mistakes were irreversible and felt as if my life was going in a downward spiral- simply because I didn’t make time for or took school seriously. With extra time on my hands and no classes to attend now, I began working retail full-time and put school aside to deal with later. I had used the following Spring and Summer semester as my “break” to truly figure out what major I wanted to pursue and why I was going to school- or if I even wanted to. I started school because my family wanted me to- but what did I want to do? If I found my “why” I would have a real reason to go and have a fuel to succeed. I spent those two semesters figuring out why I was going to school for myself, and how I could better succeed next semester. Working 40 hours a week eventually became boring, my two days off a week were spent doing nothing, I felt stationary not working towards my future.
First, I needed to identify all of my errors from Fall semester and correct them. Clearly, my time management and prioritization were out of order and was what I desperately needed to fix first. Come registration time for the next Fall semester, I began taking “life” small steps at a time- I became accustomed to working full-time and having two days off a week. I then chose two classes that fit my work schedule that were manageable for me. I then laid out a daily/weekly schedule like so: If I have class monday-thursday and always work before/after, I need to look at my work schedule every week in advance and chose specific time frames to study and do homework and use that time accordingly. I then can use any extra time if given for social life. Doing so places school and work at the top of my priority list, and social life last. It’s crucial to not only plan ahead but to do so realistically- I can’t tell myself “I’ll do my homework before class tomorrow from 7:30-9:00a.m” when my class is at 11, and I can barely get myself to wake up at 10a.m to get ready.
Taking on work and school as two separate responsibilities with equal priority works well for me, with time management being the main skill I obtained my first year of college. I’ve come to realize it is a real thing you can’t just assume figures itself out. Keeping my goals in mind has helped me stay focused on school and make a schedule that is reasonable for myself to achieve. I have learned what works and is realistic for me, I have to take on my schedule weekly and prioritise from most urgent to least. Small habits such as keeping a daily planner, and keeping sticky notes on every assignment that needs to be done have helped immensely. Working hard and keeping my focus will help provide success in my future.