One of the first things new freshmen notice about their college schedules is the gaps between their classes. Some days you may find yourself rushing from one class to the next, while other days you may have no classes at all.

While you may find this freedom exhilarating after the structured schedules of high school, a college schedule also puts demands on you to become responsible for managing your time. Learning how to balance all the things you need to do and want to do—eat, sleep, go to class, study, participate in social events on campus, as well as experience the freedom of just being a college student—can be a lesson in itself.

Here are some time management tips to help you learn to balance your academic responsibilities with your new freedoms as you begin your freshman year.

  1. Become a partner in your education. Unlike high school teachers, most college professors don't check homework, but they still expect you to know the material. Plan on being in charge of your own learning. Go to class every day, even if the professor doesn't take attendance. Take good notes and review them before each class. And if you find yourself needing help in a class, don't hesitate to ask for it. Visit your professors during their office hours or schedule a tutoring session at the Learning Center.
  2. Use your time wisely. While it may be tempting to see the time between your classes as free time when you can watch TV, nap, and just hang out with friends, this time might actually be the best time for you to hit the books, visit the library, see a professor during office hours, or attend a study session. Having time in your day for exercising, socializing, and other activities is important—just make sure those activities don't dominate your schedule.
  3. Make time to study. If you set aside just two hours to study for every hour spent in class, you won't find yourself cramming for tests or pulling all-nighters trying to write major papers at the last minute. Set aside blocks of time to study, and mark them in your planner just as you would a class or any other scheduled activity.
  4. Stick with your plan. Once you have made time in your schedule to study, stick with your plan. One way to make sticking to your plan easier is to set up a reward system. Grant yourself a TV break halfway through a study session, or make plans to meet up with your friends after a day at the library. Make studying and socializing simultaneous events by planning group study sessions. Finding ways to combine activities—reviewing for a test with classmates before going out for pizza and a movie—makes sticking to a study plan a lot more enjoyable.