When Nichole Fisher started college, she was busy. Very busy. And to her, busyness was simply a fact of college life.
"I was just getting into school and wanting to experience being independent," says Nichole, currently a junior at Simpson College in Redding, California. "So I would stay out really late and then be up really late to finish my homework. Then I would be too tired to get up for eight o'clock classes in the morning."
Nichole's hectic pace eventually caught up with her, and late in her freshman year, she got rundown and sickly. Then summer came and she had time to rest up and get ready for yet another hectic year, which included a part-time job. Before long, her schedule was out of control. In fact, she didn't even have a schedule.
"In high school, my parents were like my day planner," she says. "They were always up on managing my time for me.
"There's a lot more responsibility in college, being on your own. You just come to the point where you end up making a schedule for yourself or else your life isn't going to run smoothly."
And that's exactly what she did. Realizing her parents were no longer responsible for her schedule, Nichole bought a day planner and decided to take charge of her time.
"I'm a changed person in the last year and a half or so," she says. "My freshman year, socializing came first, before my schoolwork. My sophomore year, I got into scheduling every thing and making sure my homework was done be fore socializing. Then, it would be kind of like a re ward to go out and relax."
The distraction factor
Sarah Monihan, a junior at Philadelphia College of Bible, also learned a hard lesson about balancing her studies with her social life. It was the day before a huge paper was due, and Sarah knew she had tons of work ahead of her. But she also knew her friends were counting on her to go out with them that night.
"My friends were like, 'Come on, you'll get it done,'" she remembers.
Although homework was calling, Sarah's friends were calling louder, and, in the end, they won. But Sarah didn't. After an evening on the town, she headed to the computer and feverishly started typing. The next morning, she was still there.
"I yielded to peer pressure," she admits, "and I was up 'till five the next morning working on this 10-page paper."
Deron Dykema, a '99 graduate of Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois, had a similar problem—people could easily come between him and his schoolwork. As student body president for two years, his schedule was full of distractions. If he hung around his room, he'd be bombarded with unexpected visitors and phone calls. So he started hiding out.
"I found a place where no one knew where I was," Deron says. "Since I was student body president, I had an office to myself, and I'd go and hide up there and wouldn't answer the phone."
Sarah didn't go so far as to hide from her friends, but she did learn from her all-nighter experience.
"As you get older, you get wiser," she says. "As time goes on, I think you learn how to be more disciplined and how much time things are going to take."
Last year, for example, she faced another big paper, but instead of waiting until the last minute, Sarah divided the writing into small sections over a week's period. The result?
"I did really well on the paper," she says, "and I wasn't stressed to the max."
A major key to accomplishing things at college is learning to manage the clock, like Sarah did. But sometimes that skill takes a little while to acquire. When Neil Anderson, a junior at Biola University in La Mirada, California, started college, he was still in step with a typical high school schedule.