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by Scott Lutostanski – Director of Academic Consulting

Court vision is a player’s ability to see and understand everything going on the basketball court.X-ray vision is the ability to see through physical objects. Tunnel vision is the tendency to focus exclusively on a single or limited goal or point of view.

Most people are probably familiar with these three types of vision, though one is entirely fictional. However, most people aren’t familiar with “planning vision”. Planning vision is a person’s ability to visualize multiple weeks of activities and tasks at once. Someone that has planning vision knows what they have coming up in both the short and long-term and how to plan, schedule, and execute accordingly.

For students, not having planning vision can get them in trouble. Most often, the students who lack this skill will be the ones who get home and have no idea what work they have to do, cannot keep track of long term projects and papers, and will end up have all-night cram sessions to prepare for a test. These students live day-to-day. It’s the same as living paycheck-to-paycheck. Each pay period, you’re just hoping to get by and have enough money to get to the next paycheck. For students, this means they are scraping by and just barely staying afloat in school. They are always focused on the assignments that are due tomorrow….or were already due and need to be made up. There is no focus beyond the question of “how do I get through today?”

Planning vision is the ability to both understand and perceive the short term assignments (nightly homework), long term assignments (papers/projects), and tests that are coming up. If a student has learned and mastered the skill of planning vision, they will be able to plan and manage their time when they have a jam-packed, three week stretch in school. Students with the vision can plan and space their work around obligations, sports, and activities. They are able to adjust, compensate, and be flexible with each week and understand how their time needs to spent. In college, midterms is the most typical time that I see students struggle. They are unable to have the vision to know when their tests, papers, and homework are due during that few weeks that midterms take place.

Planning vision varies by grade level. High school students can be successful with a two week vision. This means that they need to be able to know their upcoming tasks– sports, homework, papers, tests to study for, and projects. They should be able to understand and break down these tasks and understand how to plan and manage their time over the next two weeks. College is a bit more unstructured. College students need to have four week vision as they navigate their semester. The bigger assignments, less structure, and more time-consuming work require undergrads to visualize and see more of their schedule.

Planning vision is an essential skill to school or work success. However, when we don’t experience challenges ourselves in this area, it can be difficult to imagine someone else lacking in this capacity. It can appear that they are not trying, lazy, or they just don’t care. This just isn’t true. Their planning vision is not operating on autopilot like it does for most people.

The good news is that this skill can be improved. It needs to be built up through structure, strategy, and practice. The goal is to create practices that gets students to be cognitively flexible and capable of manipulating their planning in their mind throughout the day, not just at one set moment in time. The earlier this can be worked on and accomplished, the more success students will find academically.