Time management is an outdated concept that marginalizes students

Professors and employers expect today’s students to know how to manage their time wisely in an effort to produce quality work. Time management tops the list of buzzwords that are often targeted towards today’s students. For example, students in certain professions are expected to work well under pressure, make time outside of office hours to work remotely and manage their time in an efficient way that is beneficial to the employer. Not only is the rhetoric that surrounds time management damaging to a generations worth of young adults, but for some the act is unattainable.  

I’ve always felt that when speaking in terms of higher education, not enough attention is directed towards the outside factors that contribute to a student’s inability to successfully manage their time. To loosely quote Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist who was made famous in the 1940’s, if a person’s basic needs aren’t being met then they can’t be expected to produce quality work. 

When we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs through an education standpoint we find that there are some things that are out of a student’s control. 

For example, an elementary school teacher probably shouldn’t be too upset at a fourth grader if they didn’t complete their homework, because what if that fourth grader doesn’t have access to paper and a pencil at home? What if the lights at the fourth grader’s house don’t stay on? What if the fourth grader’s only worry is where their next meal is coming from? 

Similarly, when we talk about college students I think the central idea from this train of thought should remain the same. There are socioeconomic factors that play into the discussion of time management, and failure to acknowledge such, only displays a level of privilege that isn’t extended to all students. Yes, I’m well aware that in the “real world,” students and young adults will be expected to manage their time wisely to survive in and out of the workplace. But to say that time management can be attainable if most of the burden is placed on the student is not only morally wrong, but inaccurate. 

Some students can only dedicate so much time to one thing. Some students have to work multiple jobs to support themselves outside of school. We often forget that the struggle for some students doesn’t end on campus. While I am aware of the helpful systems that are put in place here on campus and on most other college campuses, the time to get to these resources may require a student to miss their shift at a job, or skip an important lecture. Google calendars and other time managing tips and tricks do students no good when they have shifts to cover, bills to pay and essays to write. 

There’s no shame in agreeing that the times have changed and what used to be considered the norm is no longer the case. Even with the invention of time management  apps and other services, the average student doesn’t have the same workload as a student did 10, 20 or 30 years ago. It is well documented that our age group (in which some studies say Millenials and others say Gen Z) is the most overworked, overeducated and underpaid generation  in recent memory. So to continue the rhetoric of “every student should learn how to time manage,” is not only outdated, but hurtful to an entire generation of students.  

Is Time Management Possible?

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