How Much Free Time Do You Have in College? More Than You Think

Some students believe that being in college will keep them from attaining balance in their lives, which is why they opt for the easiest degree programs. Unfortunately, after graduating, they may have the hardest time finding jobs.

Since most full-time students take 12 credits, they have between 4 and 6 hours of free time per day while spending the rest doing homework. Ideally, students should spend 2 to 3 hours on their studies per credit hour per week.

Don’t hesitate to send applications to colleges and universities just because you fear you will have no more time left to relax and partake in your leisure pursuits while earning a degree.

Below, you will learn how much time you will have to spend on studying, thus allowing you to realize that college students still have time for both work and play.

student in college dorm

How Much Time Should University Student Spend on Studying?

Students completing a bachelor’s degree should spend 240 to 360 hours studying from the time they enter college to the time they get their diplomas. On the other hand, students earning an associate and a master’s degree should spend 120 to 180 hours and 60 to 120 hours on studying, respectively.

The rules on how many hours you should spend on every credit tend to vary. Leading the pack is the two-hour rule that many college professors highly suggest — one hour in the classroom and the other hour at home doing homework. Some experts recommend devoting two to three hours to every credit.

If you are trying to earn a bachelor’s degree, this is how much time you should spend on studying:

Per class36 to 9
Per semester1530 to 45
Per year3060 to 80
Per degree120240 to 360
Time spent on studying in college

The hours you need to spend per class, semester, and so on are considered ideal. Keep in mind that the actual number of hours one has to spend on studying is on a case-to-case basis.

Do you want to keep your grades high because you know for a fact that getting bad grades can cause you to lose your financial aid?

Then it’s a good idea to spend a little more time studying if you don’t want to risk it. The same is true if you want to have a brighter future.

Just check out these things that a Forbes article says:

  • 73% of employers screen job candidates by their GPAs.
  • Most industries have a GPA cut off — at least a B average is a must for your resume to be considered.
  • Top students tend to have higher earnings faster than those with low grades.

Modern-day technology has made studying so much easier for college students.

For instance, the internet makes it trouble-free for them to find what they are looking for exactly — Google can help you find what happened to a particular person during a specific time in history so much faster than flipping through the pages of a textbook.

Similarly, computers make writing, editing, and revising essays, reports, and dissertations simpler and easier.

Refrain from assuming that you no longer have to follow the two-hour rule because the internet and other technologies can facilitate college.

On the contrary, it’s of utmost importance to stick to the rule now more than ever as there are also many distractions everywhere, usually courtesy of the internet and various gadgets themselves.

How Do College Students Spend Their Free Time?

On an average weekday, college students spend the majority of their time sleeping. They spend three and a half to four hours studying and engaging in leisure pursuits. How college students spend their time on a weekday will depend on the demands of their activities inside and outside the campus.

There are many reasons why a lot of students fear going to college. One of those is not having any remaining time for partaking in anything besides school-related tasks.

Various online articles on traits or qualities of successful college students share one thing in common: time management. It’s true that getting your hands on a college degree can be hectic and stressful. However, by managing your time well, you can experience a college life that’s less frantic.

Let’s take a look at how full-time college students spend their weekdays on average, according to 2016 data provided by the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS):

Leisure and sports4
Educational activities3.5
Working and related activities2.3
Eating and drinking1
How much time do students spend a day

With so many things to do on a daily basis, college students are some of the busiest bees on the face of the planet! It’s exactly because of this why having free time may be hard to come by.

Here are some of the most recommended things you can do in your free time in college:

  • Sleep. It’s not uncommon for college students to be sleep-deprived. The reasons for not getting enough shut-eye vary from one student to the next. Some pull an all-nighter to finish a project or review for an exam. Others hop from party to party. No matter the case, it’s a good idea to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
  • Study. Speaking of partying, students who spend most of their free time glugging bottles of beer should give reading books a try instead. However, balance is vital. If you feel that you are doing a great job in the classroom, consider spending some of your free time as far away as possible from school-related pursuits.
  • Work out. Earning a college degree can cause lots of stress. Having high levels of stress incessantly is a complete no-no as it can wreak havoc on one’s mental and physical health. A great way to manage stress is by working out. It will also help strengthen your immunity, keeping infections from getting in the way of your college.
  • Go outside. Are you an out-of-state student, and have you been living in your hometown all your life? Then head out and explore the world outside your dorm and campus. You might even fall in love with the people, culture and surroundings, causing you to consider getting employed or setting up a business there after graduating.
  • Partake in hobbies. It’s also during your free time in college when you may follow up with your hobbies, some or all of which many full-time students abandon. Besides, according to experts, hobbies in college are just as important as classes as they help clear the mind, develop skills and even generate income.

Extra-Curricular Activities and College Life

In college, your free time may seem limited, but making room for extra-curricular activities and social life can provide you with a well-rounded and fulfilling experience.

Student Clubs and Organizations

Joining student clubs and organizations not only allows you to find your niche but also gives you the opportunity to create meaningful connections with like-minded people. Whether you’re into sports, the arts, or volunteering, there’s likely a club on campus for you.

  • Check your college’s club directory to see what interests you
  • Attend club fairs and introductory meetings to get a feel for the group’s atmosphere
  • Balance your academic workload with club commitments to avoid burnout

Remember, your involvement in clubs can help build your resume, improve your communication skills, and expand your network.

college students in free time

Social Events and Parties

While academics are important, social events and parties offer a chance to unwind, make new friends, and create unforgettable memories. Navigating these events as a college student includes:

  • Attending campus events like festivals, concerts, and gatherings
  • Exploring off-campus activities and meetups for shared interests
  • Learning to socialize responsibly and safely
  • Respecting the guidelines and boundaries set by both the college and other students

Remember, finding balance is key. Decide which social events resonate most with you and allocate time for them in between your academic and extra-curricular commitments.

Employment and Internships

As a college student, striking a balance between academics and extracurricular activities is important. Considering the impact of employment and internships on your free time can help you make informed decisions about your time management.

On-Campus Jobs

On-campus jobs can be a convenient way to earn money while also maintaining a manageable workload. These jobs often offer flexible hours designed to accommodate your class schedule, so you won’t have to worry about missing out on important lectures or study time. Popular on-campus jobs include:

  • Library assistant
  • Recreation center staff
  • Lab assistant
  • Tutor or teaching assistant

Remember that some on-campus jobs may require a specific skill set or major, so it’s essential to check the requirements before applying.

Off-Campus Opportunities

Off-campus jobs and internships also present valuable opportunities for gaining work experience and professional skills. However, they may require more of a time commitment due to factors like commuting or set working hours. Be mindful of how this might impact your free time, and consider the following:

  1. Location: Choose a job or internship close to campus to minimize travel time and potential scheduling conflicts.
  2. Workload: Look for positions with a manageable number of hours per week, ensuring you can still dedicate sufficient time to your studies.
  3. Relevance: Prioritize opportunities that align with your academic or career goals, maximizing the benefits of your employment experience.

It’s essential to weigh the benefits and potential costs of off-campus jobs and internships before committing to one, as this will affect your overall free time in college.

Time Management Tips

Managing your time effectively in college is crucial for maintaining a healthy balance between academics, social life, and self-care. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your free time:

Prioritizing Tasks

First, it’s important to prioritize your tasks.

Make a to-do list of everything you need to accomplish, and then rank them in order of importance.

Focus on completing high-priority tasks first, and tackle the rest as time allows. This can help you stay on track with assignments and prevent last-minute stress. Some helpful tips for prioritizing tasks include:

  • Breaking down large tasks into smaller, manageable steps
  • Setting realistic deadlines for each task
  • Grouping similar tasks together to increase efficiency

Staying Organized

Being organized is crucial for effective time management.

Keeping track of your assignments, exams, and extracurricular activities can help you stay on top of your workload and avoid last-minute surprises.

Here are some strategies to help you stay organized:

  1. Use a planner or digital calendar to keep track of important dates and deadlines
  2. Organize your study materials in a way that makes sense for you, whether it’s by subject, due date, or some other method
  3. Create a dedicated study space that is free of distractions and has all the resources you need

By following these time management tips, you can make the most of your free time in college and ensure that you are well-prepared for your academic and personal responsibilities.

Remember, it’s all about finding the right balance that works for you and your unique needs.

sleeping well

Finding Study and Personal Life Balance

College life can be overwhelming at times, but finding a healthy balance between studies, social life, and self-care is crucial. In this section, we’ll discuss strategies for managing your time and priorities to make the most out of your college experience.

Self-Care and Mental Health

It’s essential to prioritize your mental and physical well-being while navigating college life. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthily, and find time for regular exercise.

Taking breaks, even short ones, can help you recharge and stay focused when returning to your studies.

Don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or campus resources when needed. They can help you cope with the pressures of college and maintain a balance between academics and personal life.

  • Take breaks to recharge your mind and body
  • Eat balanced meals and exercise regularly
  • Seek support from friends, family, or campus resources

Setting Realistic Goals

When setting academic and personal goals, be realistic about your abilities and commitments. Break your objectives into smaller, achievable tasks, and track your progress regularly.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go as planned; setbacks are a natural part of life, and learning from them is key to your growth.

Remember to allocate time for socializing and hobbies outside of your studies. These activities are crucial for maintaining a balanced lifestyle and can help relieve stress and enhance your overall college experience.

Academic SuccessCreate a study schedule, join study groups, and seek help from professors or tutors when needed
Personal GrowthEngage in extracurricular activities, explore hobbies, and build a supportive network of friends
Physical HealthIncorporate regular exercise, eat balanced meals, and establish a consistent sleep schedule

Recap: How much free time do college students have

The amount of free time you have in college will depend on various factors, first and foremost, the number of credits your degree program requires. And every credit requires you to spend 2 to 3 hours studying if you want to get your hands on your diploma on time and avoid getting low grades that can make your transcript look terrible.

Managing your time wisely can give you more well-balanced college life.

Above, we talked about how much time you should give to every credit hour you need to complete in order to graduate.

The figures you came across are what professors and experts recommend — it’s still a good idea to figure out what works best for you according to your degree program, lifestyle, and the kind of learner you are.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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