Build an Effective Semester Schedule

Maximizing Your Class Syllabus and Other Resources

Aristotle said, "Well begun is half done."

All students must figure out a way to effectively manage their academic schedules and their lives. MIT students are especially challenged to juggle their accelerated class work. This brief introduction outlines things to consider when learning how to manage your time at MIT. 

  1. MIT classes begin on the first day so it can be difficult to catch up if you fall behind in your work. From the beginning of the semester, it's crucial to read and plan according to the syllabus. The syllabus is a road map that will help you to pace yourself through the work in the class, but it is much more than just a road map. The syllabus, reading lists, and your texts can help you to build a deeper understanding of the coursework and the field from which it comes. No matter whether the class you are taking is a first year class or a graduate class, you are being exposed to information that will help you build expertise in the field. 
  2. An effective MIT time management schedule should not be a superficial list nor should it be a rigid, inflexible plan that doesn't help you on a daily basis. It's important for you to allow it to grow and change with you and as you gain knowledge of a given subject. You should constantly reevaluate what you will need to do to succeed in your classes. This reevaluation will likely result in changes to your weekly schedule. 
  3. Because of the rigors of MIT, you need to use all seven days of the week in your schedule. This doesn't mean that you won't have time for fun or creative activities, but you will have to increase the amount of attention you pay to your coursework. 
  4. The word "study" is too generic. When filling out your schedule, use words like, "review," "read," "work on problem set," etc. which will help you consider what you will be doing throughout the week. This will also help you to become more creative and flexible. 
  5. Finally, remember to schedule in times to connect with your faculty members and your TA's. 

Good luck in your quest for managed time. If you need to talk with someone about it remember to connect with your professors and TA's, your advisor, advising staff, and/or others who might help you.