The Balance of Work

Dear College Student,

Many of you will remember the legend of John Henry, the man who competed against a steam powered machine to dig a tunnel through a mountain for a railroad. He was a hardworking man and ended up winning the contest, only to die in the process. College can sometimes feel like it will kill you with all the work you put in, so it is important to learn how to work smarter, not harder. In order to succeed and get enough sleep, you’ll need to combine the hard work habits you have, with the tips and tricks you find along the way.

Let me tell you about my freshman year of college. At the start I went to class every day, did all my homework, took lots of notes, attended every T.A. session, did everything to succeed and for the first month of school I was slammed. I had so much going on academically, that my social life was left to the late hours of the evening, leaving me little time to sleep. I was wearing my body down and knew something was going to have to give, because I couldn’t keep up that routine.

I went in to take my first test and realized that while I learned all of these cool new things, I had wasted lots of time learning material that wasn’t tested on. I was upset because I felt like I used all this time studying that I could have used to catch up on sleep. As I reviewed in my mind what was on the test, I realized that when we got study guides or had review sessions, they told us exactly what would be on the test, and that was really the only information I needed to learn.

Being the smug, freshman I was, I slept through some classes, stopped learning all this extra material, and instead focused on the few places I knew I would learn what would be on the test. I went from spending hours a day on my classes, to just a couple hours before the test going to reviews to learn what would be tested on and then studying those things.

My guess is you’ll be surprised to learn that my test average actually went up during this time. I believe that was due to being fully awake and attentive as I did study and take the tests. People would ask me how it was that they spent 15 hours studying for a test and went to class every day, but still did worse than a kid who didn’t go to class and spent about 2 hours studying. The answer, is I had figured out the game of test taking in college.

Each person’s college experience is different, so I’m not suggesting you follow in my footsteps and skip class, but what I am saying is you need to start looking at your courses as a game. Each one has a lot of obstacles, but usually there is shortcut you can take. As you examine your courses, I’m sure you too will find ways you can achieve better results and save time.


Your College Advisor

Do you have any good College Tips? Feel free to send them to me!

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