Managing your time at university

Whether you’re a first-year or a third-year, you will constantly be facing the never-ending dilemma of how best to use your time.

You want to do well on your degree, meet new people, have a social life, take part in extracurricular activities and maybe even balance a part-time job, all at the same time.

It's strange how even though contact hours are almost a quarter of what we had during sixth form or college, there really is never enough time to get it all done. The main difference is that you are expected to self-study and put as many hours in as you need. University life is independent so you will find you will need to make your own timetable and be as constructive (or wasteful) with your time as you want.

You may also find it hard to prioritise: your first impulse will be that academic work takes priority; however, some students need to keep up a part-time job to help with finances. Also many degrees require you to develop your CV from an early stage by networking and securing work experience alongside getting good grades. So you will learn early on that there is a lot more your university has to offer alongside your degree and how well you choose to engage with it all will reflect on you as a person.

There is no question that a lot is expected from you during university and it is a short amount of time to do it all, and do it well. As a third year, I would like to share a few things I have learnt about managing my time at university.

1 - I have found it beneficial to prioritise different things during different times of the year. For example, the September to November period is when most employers visit my university. Many careers events take place and deadlines for vacation schemes/work experience are during that time. Hence I focus that time on attending workshops and seminars and getting applications out of the way before academic deadlines start rolling in and exam time starts.

2 - In terms of earning extra money, I try to work as much as I can during the summer and save up so I don’t need to work during term time, or try to find jobs on campus which don’t require long shifts and travelling back and forth. Working in retail can take up a lot of your time and as a student you should take advantage of opportunities advertised by your university or students union – most of which will pay much better too and will be more flexible.

3 - During the first year of university, it can be tempting to join every society that seems even mildly interesting; however, I have learnt that it is much better to fully involve yourself in one or two societies rather than being partially involved in many more. So, give everything a go, but choose a couple that you are passionate about and feel will be most beneficial to you. Being fully involved in fewer or indeed even one society will mean you will gain the most from them and will have a better chance of securing committee positions later on. It will also mean you can focus your time and energy on fewer activities in a more efficient way.

Saba'a Bajwa is a third-year Law student at the University of Manchester and a member of the Pearson Student Advisory Board.

Since my degree primarily entails independent study, and managing my own workload, I appreciate the importance of coherent and easy-to-grasp learning resources… I joined the Student Advisory Board as I feel it is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in contributing to, developing and advising on a very important aspect of student life.

Saba’a Bajwa

Portrait of Saba'a Bajwa