Each semester unfolds over the course of four months, totaling 15 weeks of classes. Everything may feel new and strange during the first few weeks, but college life has a rhythm of its own, and in time you will begin to feel comfortable.

You can get your new college routine off to a good start by attending the first day of all your classes and by completing the first assignments in every class. Homework assignments are often lighter in the first weeks of class so they might not seem like a big deal, but they can quickly pile up if you avoid those initial tasks.

Plan ahead by noting important dates from the college Academic Calendar in your personal calendar or planner.

Exercise 2.1: Exploring the Academic Calendar

First day of classes :

Deadline for refund of half the semester’s tuition:

Dates the college is closed :

Deadline to withdraw from classes:

Last day of classes:

Click to download a fillable document: Exercise 2.1: Find The Following Dates For This Semester

Read the Syllabus for Every Class

On or before the first day of class, your professors will provide the syllabus for each course you are taking. Read each syllabus and make a note of major assignments and exams. Record these dates in your calendar or planner. Notice that assignments increase in number during the middle of the semester (“midterm”) and again during the last couple of weeks. You’ll want to adjust your outside commitments to accommodate these expectations.

Organize Your Books and Materials for Classes

Find out what books and other materials you need for classes and where your professors suggest that you obtain them. Follow their guidance to purchase or rent materials online or through the City Tech Bookstore on the ground floor of the General Building.

The Keys: The Hours of the Week

Your college schedule can appear to allow more freedom than your high school schedule did. Don’t be fooled–the days and hours will fill up quickly. Plan ahead to build a schedule that sets you up to succeed in college.

Exercise 2.2: My WEEKLY SCHEDULE

There are 168 hours in every week. Use the chart below to record how you use the 168 hours of your typical week.

1 Fill in all the class sessions you are taking this semester.
2 How many hours a week do you spend working at a job? Fill in the hours you work, on or off campus.
3 Fill in your commuting time to and from school and commuting time for work.
4 What other obligations do you have?

Add in the time you spend doing the following activities:

  • Sleeping each night: how many hours of sleep do you need to feel well-rested? Your brain needs time to consolidate what you learned during the day
  • Eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks: your brain and body require fuel
  • Tending to family responsibilities, such as preparing meals, taking care of children or elders, or other tasks
  • Shopping: consider food, and other regular shopping, errands
  • Attending to medical conditions that require regular monitoring
  • Spending time on religious practice
  • Do you spend time on something not yet mentioned? Record other regular activities you do each week, such as:
    • Playing sports, working out, brisk walking
    • Socializing and hanging out with friends
    • Playing computer games, checking social media

Click to download a fillable document: Exercise 2.2: My Weekly Schedule

Fixed Hours and Flex Times

Which items on your chart have times that are established or “fixed”? Examples of “fixed” times are your class schedule, travel to and from school, job hours, and travel to and from work. For “fixed” items, you don’t have control over the amount of time spent or the hours they begin or end.

“Fixed” hours should also include sleep and family obligations. Note that reducing your sleep time may hurt you and your efforts to study.

Mark these “fixed” hours clearly, perhaps by color-coding them, as they are not available to be changed.

Which hours are still available? Find ten hours in the week that you will devote to studying and other college work. Make sure these hours are realistic. Commit to these ten hours each week as “fixed” for studying. Write these fixed hours in your chart.

Which commitments on your chart have times that are flexible? “Flex” times can be negotiated. Write on your chart another ten hours that will be used to study and research as needed. Make sure these hours are realistic. These are backup study hours or “flex” time.

So, these ten “fixed” hours and additional ten hours of “flex” time each week are to be devoted to tackling college-focused activities. This is your deal with yourself. Use this time to:

  • read assigned textbooks and other course materials
  • work on assignments
  • review and organize notes
  • study for quizzes and exams
  • strategize and break down tasks in advance for upcoming academic projects
  • visit professors’ office hours
  • meet with tutors

If the “flex” study hours are not needed in a particular week, you can use them to explore new opportunities on campus.

  • The college has a designated time every Thursday from 12:45 – 2:15pm, which is called Club Hour or Activity Hour. Participate! Which club or activity are you interested in joining? To learn about club activities: http://www.citytech.cuny.edu/clubs/
  • Want to explore career options or start preparing for your intended career? Talk to a career counselor. Visit the Professional Development Center: https://www.citytech.cuny.edu/pdc/students.aspx
  • Attend a presentation or performance on campus! Look on the bulletin boards near the elevators, and search City Tech’s website for events, talks, and workshops to attend. The Yellow Jacket Journey  website is a good resource for information about clubs and events happening on campus.
  • Remember that your college ID, once activated, also gives you access to events and programs throughout the entire City University of New York (CUNY) system! Consult the university’s events calendar and take advantage of opportunities now available to you. For more information: https://events.cuny.edu
  • Conduct research! What does that mean? Find out about opportunities for research.



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The Companion for the First Year at City Tech Copyright © by Office of First Year Programs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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