Many college students struggle to turn assignments in on time. This is one of the leading causes of low grades. Unlike high school, students don’t have the leeway and flexibility that teachers gave them. Most high schools will accept late work at any point in time, even days before the semester ends. In college, you either get it in on time or it is a zero. These missed assignments, even one or two, can have a significant impact on a student’s grades. It can be the difference between an A and a B or a B and a C. In more drastic cases where the student is not turning in their assignments, it can lead them to fail a class.
So the question is how can students turn 100% of their assignments in on time? They need to be organized, consistent, and structured. By taking a few actions, students can make sure that no assignment is missed for an entire semester.
It starts with the calendar. College students should pore through their syllabi and course websites the very first week of school. They need to identify every single assignment that is due. Because each class has variable schedules of assignments being due, this can actually be quite challenging. Some courses will have an assignment due weekly for an entire semester. For instance, an assignment must be submitted by midnight on Monday night. In other classes, there are biweekly reports or lab write ups. There are essays and online quizzes and lab write ups. These are all going to be due at different times. Students can log each deadline into their calendar as an event to signify that an assignment is due. This will give them constant visibility to their due dates. In addition, students should set Google notifications that remind them to complete assignments. We encourage students to set 2 alarms: one for the ideal time to complete the assignment and one as an emergency alarm to complete or submit the work. For especially forgetful students, we always recommend a backup to each reminder.
So how does this look? Let’s say a student has a 3 page short essay due every other Friday in English 101, and the essay must be submitted by 5 PM. The student will put the calendar event in as “English Essay Due” on Friday at 5 PM. They will then determine the amount of time the assignment will take (let’s say 2 hours) and pick a time during their week that they will work on the essay. Let’s say the student picks Wednesday night at 7 PM. They can set a notification to remind themselves to work at that time. And then they can add a backup just in case they blow off the first notification. Now, their phone will buzz them at 7 on Wednesday saying “Time to write the paper” and then again at 7:20 in case they don’t get started. In addition, the student can set their “emergency” notification. In this story, the student should set that notification for about noon on Friday to give them enough time to write a quality paper and submit it before the deadline.
In many cases, tracking assignments without teacher guidance is new for college students. By giving themselves this structure, they can make the jump from periodically missing assignments to submitting 100% of their assignments on time. This should produce better grades, but it is also a skill students must master to be successful in any professional role.