Tips for Time Management from the Best Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

Frustrated high school student

One of the key reasons why a family chooses to forgo the traditional, brick-and-mortar educational system is flexibility – the desire to pursue an education on their own schedule and their own terms.

Online education is not, however, a quick and easy shortcut! With freedom and flexibility comes great responsibility.

When your child attends an online private school like The Keystone School, he or she is still responsible for completing the necessary coursework. He or she is still responsible for reaching out to teachers and faculty for help.  And, he or she is still responsible for hitting certain deadlines.

And you – as the parent and learning coach – are still responsible for making sure your student is getting his or her work done.

Time management becomes a crucial skill. When the moment comes to buckle down and learn, your child must do the work.

Need help? Consider these tips for time management from some of the top colleges and universities in the United States – highly-charged, hyper-competitive environments where every minute of studying counts.

Make Studying Social

The admissions department at Harvard[1] understands that a student may want to put off studying because your child would rather socialize. There’s no reason she can’t do both.

Studying with friends gives your child a chance to catch up with her peers, have a few laughs and avoid suffering from FOMO – fear of missing out. At the same time, she has a ready made group to ask questions, find inspiration and debate interpretations.

These study get-togethers also offer you, as a parent, a chance to meet other parents and do a little socializing of your own while the kids dig into their coursework.

Plan and Prioritize

Stanford Undergrad, a guide published by the vice provost for undergraduate education at Stanford University,[2] acknowledges that time management is one of the toughest jobs that incoming students will face at the school.

That’s why young learners are advised to be realistic about their workload; to plan out their week to hit deadlines; prioritize their most important work; and pursue healthy eating and sleeping habits. Good advice for all of us!

Divide Up Your Work to Avoid Procrastination

At Columbia University[3], students are warned about the dangers of procrastination. There’s nothing worse than the overwhelming feeling that there’s too much work to do and not enough time to get it all done!

By dividing projects into a series of smaller projects, knocking out small tasks every day and sticking to a schedule, your child can steer clear of unproductive all-nighters and last-minute cramming.

See the Big Picture

Sometimes, with so many micro-tasks, assignments and other day-to-day minutiae in a student’s path, it’s tough to see the end goal. The Academic Resource Center at Duke University[4] advises students to “get the big picture” at the start of the school year. This includes:

  • Creating an overview of all classes and assignments. Make sure your child looks through all of the course material and understands how much work will be involved to successfully complete their studies. This alone can be a nice reality check.
  • Make a monthly planner. Notice that this is a common theme – plan, plan, plan. Duke recommends setting goals for each month (as well as each week).
  • Set realistic goals. Another popular recommendation. A realistic goal is completing a tough project over a period of two weeks. An unrealistic goal is waiting to knock it out over a weekend.
  • Plan to meet with instructors. This is particularly valuable for students and parents of students at online schools like Keystone, where instructor outreach must be initiated. Teachers and advisors want to help! Make sure your family uses them as resources.

Build on Your Successes, Don’t Dwell on Your Failures

According to the Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth University,[5] dwelling on mistakes is a time-wasting activity. If your child gets a bad grade on an assignment, discuss it, make sure she learns from the mistake and then moves on. When your young learner does especially well, retrace the path she took and try to identify ways to relive that success.

Use All Seven Days of the Week

The MIT Center for Academic Excellence[6] recommends that when you and your child create an schoolwork schedule, use all seven days of the week. A little each day goes a long way, and helps to prevent procrastination.

Looking for a different kind of educational experience for your children?

Do you think your child would thrive in a freer, more flexible educational environment? Learn more about The Keystone School today.


[1] “5 Protips for Time Management at Harvard”

[2] “How Do I Manage My Time?”

[3] “Go Ask Alice: Time Management”

[4] “Effective Time Management,”

[5] “Managing Time,”

[6] “Time Management: Using Your Class Syllabus and Other Information to Build an Effective Semester Schedule”


How much Screen Time is Just Right for an Online Student?

happy young family wathching flat tv at modern home indoor

Is too much screen time a concern for online students?
We live in an age of amazing technological breakthroughs. Your mobile phone could probably replace a half-dozen devices around your home – if it hasn’t already.

This does mean, however, that you spend a lot of time absorbing information from screens – and so do your kids. When your child attends an online school, you may begin to wonder if your daughter or son is spending too much time staring at their devices.

The new reality

Your children love their own cell phones, video games, tablets, laptops, televisions and smart devices just as much as you do. It’s the world we live in, and there’s no going back.

“I think a lot of families have come to the conclusion that screen time is just a reality of life,” says Erica Rhone, head of school at The Keystone School. “It’s something that we all have to deal with.”

At the same time, Ms. Rhone notes that parents can take steps to make sure that their children are interacting with their world in different ways, as well. Keystone, for example, is an online private school that gives students the ability to print out assignments and scan in completed work for review by graders. Students are required to complete hands-on science lab work. Studying for various classes can be done away from the computer.

“It’s really important to have a schedule that builds in breaks” Ms. Rhone says. “Parents and teachers need to know how to appropriately schedule and build in downtime so that students can refocus when they get back to work. And by scheduling it in, not only does your brain get a rest, but your eyes also get a rest from the computer.”

A parent’s role

As a parent, you need to be honest with yourself: how do you feel about your child’s screen time? Do you think it’s an issue? Is it causing problems for you, your child or their peers?

“Technology can play a positive role in everyone’s lives, especially if it is something they’ve learned in school, or connecting with someone to fill a social need,” says Robbye Fox, a certified parenting instructor from Kensington, Maryland. “But parents first need a clear concept of why they are bothered with their kid’s involvement in technology. Bullying, plagiarizing homework, videogames to avoid homework, haven’t done the chores — these are some reasons why technology could be inhibiting home and school life.”

We’ve all read horror stories about what can happen when children are given free and unfettered online access. As a parent, it is your responsibility to be aware of not only how much time your child is spending in front of a screen, but what he or she is doing, too.

“The stakes get higher because what they can do with the inappropriate use,” Ms. Fox says. “Part of it is constant communications about it. There are some ways to monitor social media. For instance, when a kid turns 16 years old, we don’t just hand them the keys to the car. Many precautions are taken, laws and training and incremental steps are in place, because a car can take a life. So can the internet. Parents need to say ‘I love you too much to just hand you the keys and say have a nice drive.’ Even once they get the keys, we still keep an eye on how they drive and how they use the car.”
The solution is communication

Talk to your children about how they are using technology, and listen when they have questions or concerns of their own. As a family, you can set the bar for what is and is not acceptable.

“It’s important to work as a family to set limits about technology in a way that allows a dialogue,” Ms. Fox says. “Using language like ‘Here is my issue, here are my concerns about what’s going on’ and seeing where the conversation goes from there. My kids had frustrations about how WE as parents were using technology, and we would talk about that and try changing our behaviors too. Not all technology is bad.”

Is online education right for your family?

Do you think your child could thrive in a flexible educational environment? Learn more about The Keystone School today.