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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students could manage schedules much better

Published: November 21, 2014
Section: Opinions

It’s a little late, but one of the most important, yet frequently overlooked things at this school is the matter of scheduling. Class registration has come and gone, but when it opens up again in January for the spring term, many people will find things are going to get all scrambly as plans fall through and new obligations sprout up.
Personally, I don’t think I spend as much time as I ought to when it comes time to choosing commitments and planning ahead. With classes, jobs and social appointments, there are numerous chances that something will cause a problem. I’m no stranger to unforeseen schedule conflicts or the horrified moments of panic that come with them, quietly welling up beneath the surface before bursting like bubbles of scary, emotional magma.
These little flashes of incompetence seem to, counter-intuitively, mostly happen when I actually have a surplus of time to plan ahead and look at things. Most of the time when one thinks of procrastination, the immediate thought falls on the matter of tests, papers, paperwork, etc. However, there are also the times when one will find they’ve mistakenly pledged themselves to three hours of commitment when the fabric of existence can provide only two, by complete mistake and as a result of not keeping a regularly-updated schedule.
That’s why I feel as though it’s generally better for students to impose at least somewhat stringent schedules upon themselves. Of course, there are many people who are able to adeptly and responsibly manage their time no matter what the circumstances and without the need to constantly update their calendars on their phones. But they have a different, more relaxed set of instincts under which belies a basic sense of discipline many people—me included—have trouble nurturing.
There’s a general sense of animalistic caution and vigilance that takes hold of your typical college student when they’re, by necessity, very tangibly forced to maintain a certain degree of punctuality and responsibility toward a number of their obligations. No one wants to have to wind up giving someone disappointing news that they won’t be able to make a previously scheduled event. Also, it’s helpful to make sure they have enough time for extremely important matters, such as studying for a test or writing a paper. The major downsides to this level of commitment should one go overboard and commit themselves to semesters of unrealistically harsh toil, as you might have guessed, are a case of chronic anxiety, maybe a little side of physical/mental illness here or there, and, most substantially, the disproportionate prioritization of some tasks over others.
On the other hand, the vaunted idea of having an “easier semester” can sometimes, in my opinion, be as miserable as the “crazy hard semester” in that some people will simply get restless—and perhaps even a little depressed—by periods of inactivity and the underrated, often-overlooked feeling of having nothing to do. In other words, planning what one will do over his or her four years in college can help a great deal in maintaining one’s sanity, but still often neglected and undervalued.
In the end, I guess there’s not much else I can say but all the platitudes repeated to us since we mastered simple language, which is to find a way to get as much as possible out of college while also minimizing stress levels—something achieved in different ways by different people, but most often through mechanical acclimation to predetermined agendas. As powerful of a tool as they are, good solid schedules are hard to come by, and those who follow them doubly so.