Rule Of Thumb

The general rule students should follow is to budget two hours of study time for every hour of in-class time, according to Bailey. So for every 10 hours a week they spend in class, students should spend 20 more hours, for a total of 30 hours devoted to school. Top that with a full-time job and a family and students may quickly burn out.

"We encourage them to go at it slow and steady," says Brenda Landes, counselor at Inver Hills Community College ( in Inver Grove Heights. "Sometimes students are in such a big hurry, they do take on too much. And they can take on the message: `I can't do college.'"

These colleges each offer courses to help new and returning students make the adjustment and learn how to manage their time. "We help them understand what their goals are, what is helping them move toward their goals and what is making them move away from that," explains Landes. "Not just how do you become busier, but how do you become smarter with your time? With our adult students, family is always going to be a priority over school and how do you balance those two things?"

Use Down-time Wisely

Landes tells students to fit schoolwork into small time slots, such as when they are waiting for their children at events. She also encourages them to consider that they do not have to keep their homes as perfectly as they did before college.

Bailey offers a checklist for adults to use in budgeting their time:

  • Make a weekly schedule and stick to it.
  • Don't wait for inspiration to strike or skip classes.
  • Bring school work along for those spare moments.
  • Be aware of the college calendar, such as preregistration, mid-terms, drop/add deadlines.
  • Define when you best time to study is.
  • Make sure you're in the right environment to study.
  • Make sure you take some breaks during study.
  • For most individuals, start with the most difficult subject first.
  • Get enough sleep, eat healthy food and exercise.