What does a day in life look like for a typical college student? Great question. Unfortunately, there is no cookie cutter answer for this question. When a student asks me what their day will look like, my typical answer is: it depends.
One of the best (and worst) things about college is that schedules are very flexible. High school students come in equipped with 8-10 hour regimented days burned into their mind, only to learn that college breaks all of the rules and this no longer exists. Sure, you have specific times to be places: class, rehearsal, practice, etc.; but, college students have the responsibility of maintaining a very flexible schedule and filling their time with activities of their choosing.
Let’s break it down: we will start with class time. Most students sign up for 3-5 classes per semester, averaging only 12-18 hours in the classroom each week. That’s it. Of course, college coursework is much more difficult and heavy amounts of reading/homework are assigned each week. There will be a hefty amount of time spent on outside classroom work, lab courses, group work, and more. Most students can plan to spend 30-40 hours a week (the equivalent of a “full time job”) being in class and working on related assignments. In addition, each student’s schedule will look different. Some will have multiple classes one day, no classes the next, an evening lecture, and even more variation. It is all dependent on class availability each semester.
Next, factor in work study. Most students have the option to take on a work study or an off-campus job. These jobs can range anywhere from 6-10 hours on campus and up to 20 off campus. As a college student, your work schedule will vary, just like your class schedule. You may be working some evenings, some mornings, or maybe over your lunch hour. Work-study positions are designed to accommodate your class schedule so there will be no negotiation for overlap hours with work and class.
Co-curriculars and Socializing
Co-curricular activities can range from allotted time for rehearsal or practice all the way to elective club activities. Students usually spend anywhere from 1 hour to 10 hours a week on co-curricular activities, depending on the activity. Co-curriculars enrich your time at college and are some of the best ways to meet people, make connections, and explore your interests outside of the academic realm.
Now let’s talk about your social life! While all of this might sound overwhelming, college students always find a way to maintain a healthy social life. What is great about college is that there is a lot of flexibility for you to set your own hours for studying, which means your social life can become more dynamic. Say goodbye to “after schools hangs”, and hello to brunch dates, late night study sessions, trips to the caf, movie nights, camping trips, and so much more.
Find Your Balance
So when a student asks “what will a typical day look like?”, the answer is, of course, it depends. A lot of the day is up to the student’s discrepancy, with little “required” time. While this can be great fun, it also presents a challenge to a lot students to dedicate time to their studies, job, social life, co-curriculars, and of course, themselves.
The flexibility of college is a beautiful thing and something you may never experience in your life again. However, it is a huge responsibility. Regardless, when you set your expectations that your schedule will “depend on the semester” and you are in charge of setting your own goals, your time-management skills will flourish, and you’ll continue to grow as you lean into every changing semester.