The Importance of Graduate School Time Management

Meredith Whelchel headshot

Meredith Whelchel, Student

The online MS in Communication program is structured for the online grad student to successfully balance the time commitment of the program with other life challenges.

Challenges in Creating a Study Schedule
Creating and managing a schedule for my online program wasn’t easy at first. I had a 6-month break from my undergraduate degree and frankly, was slow to get a routine down — wading through the variety of weekly readings and assignments and underestimating the time needed to succeed in the course. I struggled through my first course because of this, but with feedback from my professor, learned I just needed to focus and start managing my time better.

The Successful Graduate Study Schedule

  • Sunday: Begin the required readings for the week and take notes to prepare for discussion post that is due on Wednesday.
  • Monday: Finish reading case studies and draft any group work needed for that week.
  • Tuesday: Draft discussion post that is due tomorrow.
  • Wednesday: Finalize discussion post.
  • Thursday — Saturday: Comment on peers’ posts and also complete group work.

Juggling the Disruptions
There’s really no hard and fast schedule for an online student, just like there’s no work day where you’ll know exactly what you’re doing at every moment. The predictability of each course, with an online posting and project-work schedule made planning easier, but I often had to accommodate for when life threw me for a loop, running low on sleep and caffeine with an assignment creeping up on me — disrupting the schedule.

Perfecting the graduate study schedule, or getting somewhere close to it, requires focus, time management, agility, and a few cups of coffee.

Learn More
Meredith Whelchel is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.