10 Rules for Good Homework Hygiene

10 Rules for Good Homework Hygiene

At the start of each school year, I have the privilege of sharing some advice with my students on how to succeed at Bible College. This year I titled my talk “10 Rules for Good Homework Hygiene.” I have taken much of this material from the following two books:

Rule 1 – Stop getting all your help from your parents

How many times per week do you think you will communicate with your parents?

  • At one college, “freshmen spoke with their parents an average of 10.4 times a week during the first semester—three times more often than they had expected to. (Thriving at College)
  • Many are suspecting that this same technology is delaying development in the college years by making it more difficult to establish personal identity and to take ownership of decisions. Think of the cell phone as the eternal umbilical cord. (Thriving at College)
  • Cut it quick, and start becoming your own person.

Rule 2 – Treat your schooling as a full-time job

If your schooling is a job, who is your boss?

  • Many students think their teachers are their boss. That’s not right, if you are in college, you need to think of yourself more like an entrepreneur.
  • Work 8 hours a day five days a week, and sometimes Saturdays, and you should be able to take a weekly Sabbath.

Rule 3 – Never miss work

If you stop to think about how much money you are spending for a minute of class, you won’t want to miss even a minute!

  • Who knows how much a 3 credit course costs?
    • 597 dollars per course at Eston College – 35 hours of class time =
      • 17 dollars per hour
      • 28 cents per minute

Rule 4 – When its time to work, work!

Most students think they can multitask, but monotasking is so much more effective.

  • There are two kinds of jobs in the world
    • 1. Like my first job as a bank teller, when there weren’t customers around it was easy not to do anything…
    • 2. Working a trade, where there is little time for self-management, you have to work when you are roofing a house!
  • Learn to treat your school work like the second kind of job, and you will succeed not just at college, but at life!
  • If you struggle to avoid multitasking, try out internet blocking software like:

Rule 5 – Plan your day or your day will plan you

  • Avoiding “syllabus shock” by planning your semester in advance. Get a dayplanner and make a map of how you will spend your days.
    • “You will encounter the college phenomenon affectionately referred to as “syllabus shock.” Syllabus shock is the state of incredulity, despondency, and confusion a student experiences after taking her first glance at the sheer volume of work that will have to be completed in a given semester. Often this takes place the first week of school. However, in more severe cases it afflicts those who have waited until halfway through the semester to read the syllabus for the first time!” (Welcome to College)
  • Work in manageable bites: 25-minute slices are best. Check out tomato-timer.com to use the pomodoro technique.

Rule 6 – Work smarter, not harder

  • What is the college equivalent of telling your teacher that your dog ate your homework? My computer crashed…
    • Don’t be a victim of crashing tech. Instead, be sure to back up all of your homework to the cloud. Google Drive is a fantastic option if you have a Gmail education email address since you get unlimited storage.
  • If you are starting at a blank screen and need the motivation to write, try out “Write or Die“. If you stop writing it starts deleting your words one at a time.

Rule 7 – When you don’t know, ask!

If you don’t know how to do something, don’t sit there trying to figure it out! Ask someone! But, who should you ask first? I recommend not going directly to your teachers.

  • First, consult your syllabus and see if your question is answered in it.
  • Second, ask your peers, usually someone in your class knows the answer. If no one does, this gives good justification to ask your teacher.
  • Third, ask those who are a year ahead of you. At a small college like Eston, it is a guarantee that someone near you has already taken your course and can help you understand what to do next.
  • Finally, ask your teacher. If you follow this pattern, you will earn favor with your teachers!

Rule 8 – Learn to start quickly!

  • A lot of authors and creatives practice leaving the pen in the middle of a sentence. Don’t start cold…leave the sentence unfinished and then you can pick up without losing momentum.
  • If you have trouble procrastinating, practice the “5-minute rule”. Set a timer and promise yourself that you will work on the project for 5 minutes. If you do this, it is likely you will want to continue afterwards.

Rule 9 – Don’t make grades your goal

Rule 10 – Don’t let anyone tell you that your homework is less spiritual than other forms of worship

  • I tell students this story every year:
    • Benjamin Warfield taught at Princeton Seminary for thirty-four years until his death in 1921. He reacted with dismay toward those who saw opposition between prayer … and rigorous thinking about God’s written Word. In 1911 he gave an address to students with this exhortation: “Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. ‘What!’ is the appropriate response, ‘than ten hours over your books, on your knees?’” Both-and. Not either-or.” (Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God)
  • Ultimately, if we don’t learn to worship Christ with every area of life, we haven’t learned what it means to be Christian. Pray unceasingly, not just in the prayer room.



If you practice even half of these ten rules, you will improve your chances of succeeding at Bible College. If you have more tips for how to succeed at bible college, please comment below!

10 Rules for Good Homework Hygiene

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