Best Ways to Prioritize College Assignments

September 28, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Hi welcome, I’m Jessica Murray the community manager for Stairway to STEM. I’m really excited to have Arianne Garcia and Katie Matthews with me today. Arianne is an activist, writer, artist, and an autism advocate and she’s also one of our amazing editorial board members. Katie Matthews has a ton of experience working with autistic young adults, she’s a part-time speech and language pathologist as well as a part-time professional runner. And they work together creating content for STS and we’re really excited to put them together for a conversation around prioritizing assignments. So without further ado let me turn this over to Arianne and Katie. Hi Katie, um I have some questions here that I wanted to ask you um when selecting priority assignments which is more important date or difficulty? What I would most recommend it’s kind of breaking up any long task and just shorter due dates, so thinking okay I have a five page paper to write I want to have two pages done by this date, I want to have a full rough draft done by this date, I want to be able to edit it by this date, and then once you have those due dates chart it out in your calendar you can kind of prioritize those based on date. So, how would I know what assignments are priority? There’s a couple different ways to kind of figure that out and one of them is looking at the syllabus that you are provided at the beginning of class teachers will typically make it clear on the syllabus or when they actually give you an assignment of how much this is going to be worth. Sometimes teachers will say okay write 10 discussion board questions but through the course of the entire semester they’re only going to be worth 5% of your grade. So that’s a clue that you shouldn’t be spending hours writing one discussion question because they’re each really only worth a percentage point if that, but if something’s worth 20% of your grade like a final or a midterm that should be a clue that it’s really going to impact your grade, how you do on that one assignment. And the other thing is kind of thinking about your career goals in your professional life. If there is an assignment that you think you might end up taking a further class in or you might be presenting to professors or it’s part of something that you might use to get a job, that’s a clue to kind of put some more effort into it and make it a priority and really invest yourself into it and then that might help you later in life too. So how can I prioritize my long term goals and strengths with my assignments? Think about maybe what you are interested in what types of things you might want to pursue in terms of your career and you know if you know I’m really interested in this type of coding and you haven’t taken a class on it yet maybe an assignment might be a good way to kind of get into it and learn a little bit about it and get yourself some background information for a class coming out next semester or if there’s a certain line of research you’ve heard about on you’re interested maybe you can jump in and start learning about it for an assignment. The other thing is thinking about opportunities to work with different professors or learn from different experts, if there’s ever a way that an assignment might help you connect with someone and do some networking that’s a really cool thing to think about as well. And then in terms of strengths thinking about if you are someone who seems to study best when reviewing flashcards. You can think about that as a strength and as you’re going through the semester you can be creating flashcards and then you’ll have that to study from and studying won’t be so hard when it comes around. Same thing if you know you’re a fast reader you can say oh during lunch I’ll read this chapter and if you know that you take more time to write and you’re going to need hours to write a paper probably don’t squish it in during your lunch time. that’s the thing you like what you’re good at and want you need a little more time with can really help you set a schedule and prioritize things so that everything doesn’t pile up on top of you. So is there a rule of thumb to keep in mind? I would say the biggest rule of thumb is just knowing that nobody really gets it right the first time. If you talk to anybody who has a career that they went through college they’ll probably remember a time they are cramming for a test or that they didn’t quite finish a paper up the way they wanted it to. So just thinking that you’re not alone in that. There really is no rule of thumb and you have to find out what works for you but if something does work, remember that and write it down and you could even keep track, like oh I started this paper ten days before it was due and see how that works. Maybe the next time you realize you were crunch time a little bit at the end you could back it up or same thing with studying for a test, just maybe keeping track of what works for you and then replicating it again next time. And how long should I assign time to study? Most college classes kind of expect you to study for two hours for every hour of class there is. So if a class meets Monday/Wednesday for one hour then over the course of the week you’ll study for four hours for that class. With that being said of course if there’s a big test that week maybe you’ll study more. Definitely be in the habit of reviewing everything a little bit every day and trying to find that balance so you don’t have to do six hours one day of a class because that can be kind of daunting. Well, that’s all the questions that I had for you today. Thank you so much for discussing this with me. Of course. It was my pleasure.