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If you're a new college freshman, it usually doesn't take too many weeks into the first semester to realize: you're not in high school anymore. College is a whole different ball game.
The classes are harder. Assignments are tougher. Papers and tests are longer. And suddenly, you
re in charge of your own schedule—for better or worse. No more parents or teachers to help plan your day and keep you on track to get assignments done. It's up to you.
Adjusting to the new rules can be challenging. But if you're like most college students—juggling school alongside other demands like sports, jobs, or family responsibilities—you soon realize time is too precious to waste.
We interviewed five high-achieving college students who manage to keep up their grades while packing more into a day than might seem possible. (And yet they still find time to sleep.) They shared their tips for achieving college-life balance and getting it all done. If they can do it, you can too!
Keeping track of assignments
Owen Electric member Ashley Baker, a Northern Kentucky University sophomore from Butler, has managed to maintain straight A's (and several academic scholarships) while going to school full time, working 25 hours a week at Frisch's, and caring for her son, Levi, who is 11 months old.
It's a lot to tackle, so Baker makes a point of creating "to-do" lists each day to not let anything slip through the cracks.
"I have a whiteboard on the wall where I write down everything I have going on and everything that's due each day," she says. "I have paper notes to myself all over the house."
The whiteboard approach also works well for Collin Keen of Scottsville, a junior criminal justice major and football player at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia. Keen, a Tri-County Electric member, is a regular on the Dean's List and had the honor of catching his team's first regular season touchdown last fall.
To excel both on the field and in the classroom, Keen keeps track of assignments and practice schedules on the whiteboard in his dorm room, and on written academic calendars that his coaching staff provides.
"The coaches really keep on us to stay on top of our assignments, especially if we have road trips coming up," Keen says. "We have to work with our teachers to make sure we don't have anything due while we're gone."
Other students prefer a more high-tech approach to tracking their assignments. Kelsey Hinken of Burlington, a junior honors program student and cross country team member at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, programmed all of her school assignments into her smartphone using an app called iProcrastinate.
"It's so much more convenient to have it all on my phone," says Hinken, an Owen Electric Co-op member, who attends school on an academic scholarship and fits in her running training while working two part-time jobs as a professor's assistant and resident assistant for a senior assisted-living facility. "Little alerts pop up when a due date is nearing. Everything is color-coded by subject and priority, and I can just go to my phone and see what's coming up," she says.
Schedule class times carefully
If you need to have large blocks of time to hold down a job, volunteer on campus, or be part of a sports team, it's essential to get your classes done back-to-back, preferably in the mornings, students say. Leaving afternoons and evenings open for work shifts or practice times is key.
"I love getting classes out of the way in the morning," says Hinken. I'm wide awake. I'm focused. My head's on class then, and afterward I have the afternoon free for running or other things."
Having an hour break between classes may seem like a good idea, but it can be a recipe for wasted time.
"My first two semesters, I scheduled breaks between my classes, thinking I would study, but I ended up going shopping or out to eat with friends, basically any excuse I could come up with not to study," says Baker.
Since then, Baker has found a set routine to be much more productive. She now goes to school back-to-back from 9 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and then works from
4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, along with a weekend shift.
Hinken finds that the busier she is, the more productive she is, because she doesn't have time to waste: "This year, because I have such a tight schedule after class with working and cross country, I don't put things off, and I get much more done," she says.
Use chunking instead of multi-tasking
It's tempting to text or read e-mails or make a quick phone call between classes.
But if you're a student-athlete like sophomore Georgia Van de Zande of Raleigh, North Carolina (whose mom is a reader at our sister publication), tackling mind-bending classes like thermal fluids engineering at MIT while swimming competitively and designing low-energy underwater gliders for a team robotics club, no minute is too small to waste.
On a typical day, Van de Zande must pack in five hours of class, three hours of swim practice, and five hours of studying—not to mention finding time to sleep and eat. That's why she makes a point of working during down time between classes and swimming, no matter how small the break.
"The other day I had a 30-minute break before practice, so I worked on writing an English essay that was due," she says. "Because I broke it down into a few half-hour sessions, I got it done without having to block out a huge, separate chunk of time."
The same approach worked for Baker, who was able to tackle an entire accounting class project by working on it during the 10-minute breaks between her classes over a two-week period. Getting it done in small breaks allowed her not to have to take time away from her son to get it done at home, she says.
Find an accountability partner
Finding a study partner—either a friend you knew before or someone in the class—pays off.
Louisville native Lindsey Hammers, who graduated with a social studies teaching certificate from Campbellsville University last December, hated taking early morning classes. She avoided 8 a.m. classes whenever possible, but when she had to register for an 8 a.m. economics class one semester, she signed up with a friend.
"I knew I had to be there, so I took it with a friend. That way I knew we'd be accountable to each other, and we'd help one another show up," she says.
Collin Keen's roommate, Jarred Rich, is a fellow criminal justice major, so the two shared four out of five classes together last semester. They ended up partnering to study and prepare for assignments, and found that it benefited both of them, Keen says.
"It helped a lot. We shared notes and if something was due soon, he would remind me, or I would remind him," Keen says.
Find a study time and place
At Murray State University, student-athletes who have a GPA below 3.0 are required to meet for between two and 10 hours of supervised study time each week, says academic counselor Meagan Short. Short works one-on-one with students to help set up study schedules and establish good time-management skills for tackling assignments.
But you don't have to be a student-athlete to establish fixed study times within your routine. You can be accountable to yourself: block out two to three hours each night for dedicated study time, and go to a place—like a library or quiet study commons—without distractions so you can really focus on your work, students advised.
"The library is a great place to study," says Hinken. "Everyone is quiet there and doing the same thing you are doing, so you don't feel like you're missing out on anything."
Find your passion
Face it, college can be stressful. Tack on outside responsibilities like work or parenting, and it's easy to feel burned out. That's why it's essential to schedule time for an outlet such as exercise or a hobby, something that lets you blow off some steam and regroup, students say.
For Georgia Van de Zande, that passion is swimming. Having competed in the pool since second grade, swimming laps has become a part of her identity; it's like her personal "reset button," she says.
"I can go in the pool after having a bad day, and just restart. It lets you forget about whatever problems you were having. Then afterward, I shower and grab dinner with the team, and feel ready to get back to schoolwork," she says.
Running is what helps Kelsey Hinken keep everything in perspective. "Running is my passion. It's what I love to do," says Hinken, who tries to get up at 6 a.m. to run part of her 6 to 8 daily miles before her classes start. Getting her workout in early helps her feel focused and ready to tackle the day, she says.
Keep studies the top priority
And while sports, clubs, and jobs demand time and attention, don't lose sight of the fact that college studies have to be the first priority. Keeping your grades up and staying on track to graduate are why you're in college, after all.
That mindset is what keeps Ashley Baker working hard in class, despite the demands of waitressing and being a first-time parent. Where others might have given up the dream of college altogether, she's maintaining a 4.0 GPA. "Work is important, but school comes first. I have to go to college," she says. "I don't want to work as a waitress the rest of my life."
5 MUST-USE COLLEGE RESOURCES
Colleges offer an array of resources to help students stay on track with their studies. From academic advising to time-management skill tutorials, make the most of the help your school has to offer:
Get to know your professor. Visit him or her during office hours to ask questions about material that's confusing. Attend scheduled study sessions in advance of midterm and final exams—often these sessions will help guide you on what specific topics to focus on during test prep.
As a freshman at Campbellsville University, Lindsey Hammers signed up to take part in a program that matched new college students with "grandparents" in the community. Little did she know that the pairing would still be reaping dividends five years later. Her adopted grandparents, Dr. Robert and Lillian Clark, became close friends; Lillian, a former English teacher, even helped edit Hammers' college writing assignments. And the couple introduced Hammers to criminology professor Jacquelyn Sandifer, who became another mentor, confidante, and support to her during her studies. It was Sandifer who helped Hammers get two summer jobs working with special-needs children.
Bottom line: don't overlook opportunities to make connections with professors and others in your college community. Sign up for mentorships, shadowing, or other networking opportunities. One simple connection could lead to unexpected jobs, opportunities, or chances for growth.
3. Study centers and writing labs
At Campbellsville University, students can find a quiet place to study and even get free, walk-in tutoring at The Learning Commons. Nearby, they can get free help on an upcoming writing assignment at the school's Writing Center. Both services are part of the school's Badgett Academic Support Center, says Meagan Davidson, director of The Learning Commons.
Most colleges offer similar, free writing and tutoring help. Seek out these resources and make the most of them, from the beginning of the semester. Don't wait until your grade is in jeopardy to seek assistance.
4. Advising offices
Meet with your academic advisor routinely to go over your planned schedule of classes. This will help ensure you're on track to get degree requirements fulfilled. Your advisor can also offer suggestions of cross-disciplinary classes, work-study, or internship opportunities that can supplement your major course work and help prepare you for the job market after college.
5. Student counseling services
Most colleges' counseling services offices include an array of helpful resources, from free workshops on time management and stress management to free one-on-one mental health counseling. So, if you're feeling overwhelmed by all the demands on your time, don't hesitate to seek out a professional who can help.
While the tried-and-true written planner still works fine, if you're looking for a way to keep track of your course assignments electronically, there are dozens of popular "to-do" apps to choose from. Here are just a few popular organizational apps you can try on the go on your tablet or smartphone:
Lets you jot down quick to-dos, but also lets you create separate folders where you can track assignments and deadlines for each class.
Easy to use, with pre-set lists that you simply fill in. The app also sends a weekly update of jobs that have been completed.
A good fit for folks who want a simple, low-key option. Tasks are entered with a deadline in mind, and can be color-coded by class or topic for further organization.
Remember the Milk www.rememberthemilk.com
Lets you organize assignments into to-do lists and then sends reminders when something is due. Unlike some other apps, this app is accessible via not only iPhone or Android phones, but also via Gmail and Twitter.
A great choice for managing a joint project list for an entire group or family.
Google Calendar www.google.com/calendar
Lets you enter meetings, assignments, and other appointments to a monthly calendar.
iStudiez Pro www.istudentpro.com
Winner of the 2011 Best College Student App as named by the Steel Media Network, this student-centered organizational app lets you track tasks and deadlines, arrange assignments by class, and more.
A Shaker story you never want to end
Perhaps living near Kentucky's own restored Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill inspired Ann Gabhart to document the ideals of the Shakers' peaceful, communal existence in her collection of best-selling Shaker novels, The Outsider, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Believer.
Now in The Gifted (Revell, $14.99, www.revellbooks.com), Gabhart continues her story of fictional Harmony Hill Shaker village by introducing Jessamine Brady, a young sister who has spent half her life with the Shakers but can't seem to forego her wonder of the world outside the village.
When Jessamine rescues a wounded man from the woods, everything she believes in will be put to the test. Though The Gifted is the fifth book in a series, each book is a stand-alone story and can be read in any order.
Gabhart's thorough research of Shaker life is evident throughout Jessamine's story. Readers will learn much about the lifestyle that involved no romantic love, separation of men and women, self-sustenance, and an energetic style of worship that defined the sect.
Following the teachings of their leader, Mother Ann Lee, the Shakers believed their communities were an example of heaven on earth. Because of the required commitment to celibacy, the communities grew by adding converts, indenturing children, or adopting orphans. Upon reaching the age of 21, young members were given the choice to leave or sign a lifetime commitment. As might be expected, turnover rates were high. At its peak in the 1800s, the Shaker movement claimed 3,500 believers. By 1920, however, only 12 communities remained.
Gabhart, who has been writing since the age of 10, is an avid University of Kentucky basketball fan, loves playing with her grandchildren, and enjoys traveling with her husband and his gospel quartet.
To her readers, she says, "I want you, the reader, to feel good after reading my books and to wish the story hadn't ended. Everything that happens in my books isn't happy but I do my best to make the stories encouraging and uplifting. I want you to be glad you read the book. It's always my hope that my characters will crawl up into your heart and find a loving home."
Asked often if she is still writing, Gabhart responds, "The answer is always yes. Maybe not successfully all the time, but always writing something. It's sort of like breathing. I just can't help it." –Penny Woods
The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture in Lexington reports an all-time-high enrollment. Associate Dean for Instruction Larry Grabau says, "Students are gravitating toward the college for many reasons. One can be attributed to new programs in the college, but also growing popularity of existing programs." Agricultural graduates are working in cutting-edge fields of robotics, biotechnology, and all facets of human/animal health. Other encouraging statistics point to retention of students, and a large number of out-of-state enrollments. "Agriculture graduates are in demand nationwide. Overall, employability of our graduates looks good," he says. "Average salaries for many entry-level positions for some majors are around $40,000."
Billy Smith from Bethlehem in Henry County grew up on a dairy farm and has run his own, in addition to raising tobacco, for nearly 40 years.
Last year he completed his 22,000th continuous milking. Twice a day, 5:30 a.m.and 5:30 p.m., he hooks 30 cows, three at a time, to milking machines. That's 730 every year, with an exception during Leap Year when two additional are needed.
Over the years he's only personally missed five—three when he got married, when the best man filled in, and two breaking a cheekbone during a softball game, which required an overnight stay in the hospital.
Smith and his wife, Stephanie, who helps with the calves and stripping tobacco, have three children. Billy John, 31, is a teacher at West Middle School in Shelby County, Cole, 27, is a CPA in Louisville, and Heidi, 21, is a senior at Western Kentucky University, majoring in art history.
"One thing about growing up on a dairy farm," Smith jokes, "the kids love to go away to college."
Daughter Heidi, who'll graduate in May, says, "I learned a lot from his work ethic. I played volleyball and softball growing up and he never missed a home game. Dad and Mom were the best role models."
Smith's remark to his daughter's compliment was, "You make things work out. We always ate supper together, and on Christmas mornings when they were little I'd start milking an hour early—4:00 or 4:30, so I could be there when they woke up to open presents. One year Cole came out to help so we could get done faster and get to the gifts. Now, it's sort of a tradition. Everyone goes out to help."
An impressive, large-screen TV can also be an impressive energy guzzler. In general, the bigger the screen, the more power it draws, and HD pulls more, too. Plasma screens use the most energy, while LCD TVs use much less. Look for the ENERGY STAR logo for highest efficiencies. And remember to change your new TV's default settings to a power saver mode, and turn down the LCD backlight to save energy without sacrificing picture quality.
"In just five years, unconventional oil and natural gas activity (using advances in extraction technology) has thrust the nation into an unexpected position. It is now the global growth leader in crude oil production capacity growth...And the United States is now the largest natural gas producer."
—America's New Energy Future: The Unconventional Oil and Gas Revolution and the U.S. Economy, IHS Inc.
Jim Jolly, 82, from McQuady, will tell you, "I'm a cabinetmaker by trade and just a country boy from Breckinridge County who likes to tinker."
But basketball enthusiasts and players know he invented the "Mercedes" of basketball rims, known as "Revolution."
It was on display in 1984 at the Final Four in Seattle and used later in exhibition at the "Great Kentucky Shootout" in Louisville's Freedom Hall.
"It was the only rim of its time that would break away and recover from any slam dunk shot. It's the safest system that's ever been designed for players," Jolly says. "At one time it was mass produced and marketed by Basketball Products International. There's one on display at the Louisville Science Center."
But the rim wasn't his first invention and won't be his last. During his cabinetmaking days he patented the "Jolly Roller," an applicator device for contact adhesives and glues, water or oil base paints, roof coatings, and many other fluids.
He also invented a storage case for the roller, which kept it immersed in solvent to eliminate daily cleanup. This invention was used in cabinet shops, industrial plants, and on location in businesses and residences.
Jolly continues to work daily in a shop behind his home perfecting numerous ideas and concepts—including more basketball rims. He has many working prototypes for household gadgets, lawn care equipment, and even improvements for rifles.
"I'm a blessed man," he says, "I can see things in 3-D."
Then, he cautions, with a twinkle in his eye, "It's not a life to follow if you don't have money to back it up. I've lost more money than a farmer makes in a lifetime."
Corning Gorilla Glass by Corning Incorporated is a damage-resistant cover glass used on more than 1 billion sophisticated electronic devices and it's made in Harrodsburg.
It looked like the 60-year-old plant might close during the 2007 recession until Apple's Steve Jobs selected Corning as a supplier of the durable, scratch-resistant material for iPhones. Corning experimented with a chemically strengthened glass in the early 1960s that was used in a variety of markets, such as tableware and the auto industry. Using their expertise from that era, Corning developed the thin, damage-resistant glass that today is a protective layer for screens on cell phones and touch screen devices.
Corning's Supervisor/Media Relations Joe Dunning says, "Customer agreements guide our disclosure of specific product information. What I can tell you is that we have supplied the glass for iPhones since 2007."
Gorilla Glass 2 has been announced and is 20 percent thinner, offering a brighter display. The potential growth appears significant as billions of electronic devices are sold, and Corning is pursuing new uses such as flat-screen TVs, architecture, and automobiles.
Cameo sandblasted glass by Rick Schneider and Nikki Vahle pays tribute to professional firefighters with "This is not a drill." It's among the exhibits at the Flame Run Glass Studio and Gallery in Louisville's exhibit "Etch," February 7-March 30.
"It is meant to be a conversation between two art forms," says Director Tiffany Ackerman, who organized the show. Featured works combine that of illustrator/printmaker Justin Kamerer and glass artists Schneider and Vahle. Ackerman explains, "These artists have similar aesthetics yet they express them in two different mediums." The gallery is at 815 W. Market Street. For more info, including hours, visit www.flamerun.com or phone (502) 584-5353.