Prepare for the Fall Semester: Assemble Your Time Management Toolkit

“Time management is a state of mind. Our relationship to time can make or break our academic, professional and personal commitments,” says Nicole O’Donnell, a student in the Bilingual Childhood Education major at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) and a student in the CUNY Baccalaureate School for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies.

For college students gearing up to take on the new year, a key factor in making the transition from high school to college is time management. Though it is a skill that students will need for the rest of their lives, honing that skill proves to be difficult when paired with the academic and extracurricular commitments of a typical college student’s life.

So how can students get into this state of mind? Often, it begins first thing in the morning.

O’Donnell, who commutes from Brooklyn, sets two alarms.“That way, I never find myself having [overslept],” she says. She also uses the website to view train schedules. BMCC alumna Gifty Blankson (Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts, ’16), who commutes from the Bronx, uses the Transit app in order to see real-time updates to train schedules and avoid service interruptions. Vito DiGiorgio III, a Liberal Arts major at BMCC, commutes by bus from New Jersey. DiGiorgio arrives at BMCC a couple of hours prior to his first class in order to mentally ready himself for the day ahead.

Balancing student activities with classes

Students enrolled at BMCC receive a Co-Curricular Transcript (CCT) that documents their activities outside the classroom. These activities, while important in developing communication skills and a sense of responsibility, require a sizeable time commitment.

Is it worth it? Melissa Aponte, Assistant Director of Student Activities, believes so. “Students create meaningful relationships with peers, faculty and staff though their participation in extracurricular activities,” she says. “Also, club activities typically only require about two hours and take place when class is not in session.”

Blankson, who has held leadership roles in the BMCC Scholarship Society and the BMCC Sisterhood Society, says her involvement in extracurricular activities was “an opportunity to learn and practice networking skills with faculty members and colleagues.”

DiGiorgio is involved in the BMCC BOLT Program, BMCC PLUS, the BMCC Learning Academy and Rowing Club. He is also Vice President of the Essence of Earth Club. “I find myself busy in a good way,” he says. “I wanted to test everything out to see what I liked to do. I get to meet new people and make connections that open doors to scholarships and other opportunities.”

O’Donnell, a BMCC Foundation Scholar, has attended the BMCC Foundation Gala and MoneyWorks seminars and participated in research projects. “Things can be overwhelming when you’re balancing life and school, and it can be daunting to add more to one’s schedule,” she says. “However, professional careers are built on people skills, leadership, initiative and time management,” skills she has developed through her extra-curricular commitments.

Blankson believes that while extracurricular activities are valuable to a student’s experience, school is her first priority. “Don’t let anything deter you from attaining your degree,” she says.

For students balancing life with school, time management is even more critical. Deborah Harte, Single Stop and Special Services Manager, helps students with time management and other related issues. “Some students have families, work and school, and some are single parents with childcare issues. Some are homeless and others have no means of eating regularly,” Harte says.

Time management tools

Both DiGiorgio and O’Donnell like to use paper planners. “I like using the pen-to-paper technique because I visualize what I want to get done every day,” DiGiorgio says. For O’Donnell, “carrying a planner equips me with visual cues,” she says, “that help me remember my goals.”

O’Donnell also uses the iBooks app to download her assignments from Blackboard and make them accessible during her commute. “I have even taken pictures of textbook pages and math assignments so I can ponder the material until I get home,” says O’Donnell, who also utilizes the project management app Trello, which lets her organize tasks by category and color code projects by deadline.

Additionally, BMCC has numerous programs dedicated to nurturing a good work ethic in its students. “To be a well-rounded student, you must allow the school to go through you just as you go through it,” Blankson says. “Don’t just go to class and go home. Participate in events, build relationships — and manage your time well.”


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was researched and written by Public Affairs intern Tasfiah Tabassum, who will enter Horace Mann School as a senior in Fall 2017.