Those three everyday items are the infamous options of college students everywhere. Try as one might, however, it seems there is only room for two of them.
Between trying to balance school, work, families, a social life and other extracurricular activities, sleep often becomes the option that gets sacrificed.
“I work 30 or 40 hours a week,” said first-time student Cameron Bray. Bray said he finds it difficult to fit four classes worth of homework in on top of work and normally ends up going to bed around 2 a.m. during the week. He said he believes there is no way to work full-time with a full-time class schedule and get the sleep you need.
“I’ve learned to consume anything with caffeine any chance I get,” he said.
First-time college student Kaylee Moore feels the same way, but she sacrifices most of her sleep time to studying with the belief that studying is essential to success.
“Because it really helps you on your tests,” Moore said. Sometimes she loses up to four hours of sleep or more every night because of upcoming tests.
Studying seems to be one of the main factors for sleep deprivation, and although it may not be ideal, at times it’s absolutely necessary. Speech and communications professor Michelle Orcutt said she thinks many students come to college expecting it to be like high school, where they sometimes can get by without studying much.
“Unfortunately, succeeding in college requires hours of reading, note-taking and studying for each class,” Orcutt said. “It is absolutely essential if you want to succeed in your classes.
Even though studying is unavoidable if a student wishes to succeed, it may not have to interfere with sleep if certain steps are taken. “If you know what type of learner you are, then you can use the technique that works best for your type,” Orcutt said. For example, Orcutt said, “I am an auditory learner, so I could prepare for a test by listening to a lecture and taking good notes.” Then she would go back over the notes several times.
Moore and Padilla said putting off an assignment will be the death of a student if he or she gets into the procrastinator mindset.
“Don’t study the night before,” Padilla said. “Separate the information and study a little at a time until you are comfortable with the information, and then put it all together.
Orcutt also suggested getting plenty of rest, especially the night before. Another tip from Orcutt is to get away from everyday distractions in order to get the maximum benefits of studying. “I would make sure you have a quiet place with little or no distraction,” she said. “When I was a student at AC, I would sit in one of the stairwells that was rarely used and read. My family, pets, TV, phone and Internet were not there to distract me. There are many of these secret places on campus, and it was a lifesaver.”
Orcutt said to follow the body’s natural sleeping habits. “If you feel most alert in the late evening, then use that as your study time,” she said. “If you feel like you need a nap around 4:00 every day, do not try to read or study at that time.” She recommends giving your mind and body a quick nap if they need it. Power naps can be beneficial and help energize a person’s body.
Balancing the college life can be rough, especially when sleep is sacrificed. Although sleep may be scarce, it still is essential to being successful in school and maintaining a social life.