What To Do When There’s No Homework

A huge change when students get to college is that there is much less homework for them to do. In high school, homework is a very routine, rote task: you go to school, you get assigned your homework, you do it, and then turn it in the next day. Math problem sets, textbook pages, worksheets, and short answers lead students through the learning process on a daily basis. High school provides students with the structure they need to complete their work. Going even further, a student will see their missing assignments in an online grade report almost immediately. Grades are entered and posted so quickly that students can constantly monitor the homework they are doing on a nightly basis.

It can be pretty challenging for a student to make the adjustment to college life. Most classes will only have a few assignments due for an entire semester. Some classes might have no assignments for the whole semester and be entirely tests and term papers. Each class will vary in how many assignments there are and how often they are turned in, but it will definitely be different from the pattern students experienced in high school.

Students need to get used to the new, free flowing structure that college will present. It is incredibly easy to let a week or two pass by without doing much work. There will be no consequences or missing assignments. Though students may be falling behind in their classes and failing to grasp important concepts, there will be no immediate reinforcement to guide them towards a change in behavior.

Once students hit campus, they need to establish their weekly structure and find a way to keep themselves accountable. It is much easier and familiar to a student to do an assignment that needs to be handed in to the teacher the next day, than it is to consistently read the textbook on their own and take notes in order to learn.

College students need to be willing to make the transition from their high school routine to a college routine. This includes taking notes in class, reading textbooks, taking notes from textbooks, annotating reading, reviewing notes, and creating study materials. There are a lot of students that already do this in high school, but students that struggle with the executive functions will be challenged with these activities.

If students do struggle with self regulation and attention, they will need support in creating and maintaining a structure that leads them to be successful. Each week will be its own challenge to carry out the tasks necessary to be an effective learner in the less-regulated world of college.

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