Time Budget: How to Be Involved without Failing Classes

photo 1College may not have started for me yet, but going to the Academy taught me a lot about time management. At my home high school, I played tenor and bass trombone in eight different concert bands (pep band, pit band, marching band, parade band, symphonic band, district honor band, orchestral winds, and jazz band), the combined French and Spanish Club, Art Club, Anime Club, Thespians, and I was on my school’s State Finalist Academic Decathlon team. As an honors student, I felt very much unchallenged at my home high school, and desperately tried to fill the educational void I had with as many activities as possible.photo 3

Once I went to the Academy, I had to make a major change in my time management. My classes were scattered throughout the day and were much more intense than I was used to. For the first time in my life I actually had to learn how to study. Since my junior year was such a heavy adjustment period I wasn’t as involved my junior year as I was used to.

I was still involved with the Academy band, but not nearly to the degree that I was at my home high school. I went from spending at least 2 hours in class and 3+ hours outside of class in the band room Monday through Friday (and at least 8 hours on Saturdays during the Marching Band season!), to spending 2 hours a week in class, and an hour a week in the Jazz Band. At my home high school, band was my main reason for coming to school at all, whereas at the academy it just became another hobby. I still play trombone, but not nearly as often as I used to. As for other clubs, I sporadically attended Academy Spectrum (the Academy’s equivalent to a LGBTQIA+ support organization) meetings, along with a few other clubs throughout junior year. It wasn’t until my senior year that I really started to become involved again.

photo 2Senior year I was co-president and co-founder of Japanese Club, and a co-president of Academy Spectrum. I also finally started attending my nearby place of worship, where I became very involved in volunteering opportunities and other support organizations for LGBTQIA+ youth. I was also involved with Poetry Club, the United Gaming Club (UGC), the Academy’s English Academic Team, Writing Club, and I was very involved in creating my school’s yearbook. It was definitely a more social year for me altogether, but I understand that stepping into college I might have to give up on more clubs again.

When you finally move into college, your school is bound to have a Club Fair of some kind where students have a chance to learn more about all the different clubs and organizations on campus. Now, if you’re anything at all like me, you’re going to want to sign up for every club you see that you have even the slightest interest in. Now although there’s nothing wrong with signing up for a club and then changing your mind (trust me, been there, done that), you’re going to want to limit yourself at least a little. Getting
involved is an incredible way to make friends and feel more at home at your new school, but you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. I guarantee you are going to have to study more than you did in high school, and if you’re getting a job you’re going to have even less down time. It’s also important, both in high school and in college, that you’re spending a couple of hours a week volunteering. It’s always good to give back to your community, and it looks great on job and college applications, just make sure you spend your time wisely!

My Suggestion? Make a Time Budget!

Just as you need to budget your tuition and living expenses, it is also important that you create a Time Budget for yourself. Now of course, you don’t have to follow a Time Budget perfectly, but it’s a great way for you to get a general idea of how much time you’re going to have in a given week. Let’s walk through how to do this:

Classes, Eating, and Sleeping: The Necessities

So let’s say you’re taking 15 credit hours your first semester of college. Now for those of you who don’t know, credit hours usually work differently than they do in high school, at least if you’re from Indiana. I’m not going to get into direct conversions because every high school does this differently and it is bound to get complicated and confusing. However, at least at the majority of colleges, each credit you earn is an hour of class per week. So, if you are in a Psychology class that meets for an hour a day, three days a week, you should earn 3 credits for that class at the end of the semester. In the same way, if you’re taking 15 credits a semester, it means that you’re (on average) taking 15 hours of class a week.

So 15 hours of your week are now spoken for in your time schedule. Assuming you’re getting 8 hours of sleep each night, and you take a half hour to eat, your weekly time schedule will look like this:

Consider that for the day schedule I am averaging it throughout the entire week, so the weekly schedule is more realistic. You won’t have the same class schedule Sunday as you do Monday.
photo 5

Looks pretty good right? But wait… Don’t you have to study? What if you have to work through college?

Studying, working, and the IUPUI Rule of Three

IUPUI has a Rule of Three it uses to help students plan their time wisely. It suggests that for every 1 credit hour a student takes, the student should spend 3 hours outside of class studying. I know that this is not a realistic goal for everyone, and honestly I myself even have trouble following it all the time, but studies have shown says that it’s the optimum amount of time a college student should spend studying for their classes.This doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to study 3 hours a week per credit hour for every single one of your classes. There may be 3 credit hour classes that you only need to study an hour for a week, but there’s bound to be 3 credit hour classes that you spend 8 hours a week studying for. The graphics in this post will assume that you want to be the best student you possibly can be, so you are setting this goal for yourself.

Not every student is going to work through college, but the majority of students will at least have a part-time job or an internship opportunity throughout the year. If you don’t, I highly suggest that you at least consider using your free time to volunteer on the weekends. So let’s assume you’re aiming for a 20 hr/week part-time job, internship, or volunteering opportunity.

Let’s see how our schedule looks now:

:photo 6

Where did all of our time go? This chart might be a little scary, but it’s important to remember that this is only a rough estimate. It’s important that you realize that your time is precious! Students should strive to get involved, but know that above all else, above being a club member, a volunteer, and an employee, you are a student, and you need to devote as much time as you can to studying.

Throughout the next few years, this blog will be able to give you more tips and tricks on how to truly budget your time in a way that fits your life. This chart is an example of a perfect schedule, and although we all want you to succeed, it’s important not to get frustrated if you cannot realistically follow it. Just do the best you can, and please try to get some sleep!

Until next time friends,


Sebastian Dorrance

Sebastian Dorrance

Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) 2020. Neuroscience major.
Sebastian Dorrance

Latest posts by Sebastian Dorrance (see all)

One thought on “Time Budget: How to Be Involved without Failing Classes”

  1. Steven Lin says:

    Great stuff Sebastian! Good advice to follow! Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: