Want to get organized in college but don’t know where to start?
I get it. Life seems crazy with midterms, assignments and studying starting to pile up from day one of the new semester.
But what if it didn’t have to be so hard?
I found freshman year crazy stressful because I just wasn’t organized. Learning to get organized in college helped my stress levels so much. And I want to share what I learned with you! So here are 7 ways to get organized in college:
1. Get organized in college by organizing your assignments and tests NOW
The absolute first thing you should ever do as soon as the semester starts is write down your assignment and test schedule.
Start by creating an event in your calendar for the due date with the course code, assignment name, and its weight for your final grade. Now we’re going to work backwards to make sure it doesn’t sneak up on you. Add in the next few dates (we’ll start with assignments, then go on to tests):
- Three weeks before the due date: Reminder that the assignment is coming up; start prepping/thinking of topics
- Two weeks before the due date: Start working on the assignment. Take notes on research articles, create outline
- One week before the due date: Write the assignment so you have one solid first draft done.
- Three days before the due date: Bring questions/concerns to your professor so you can make any necessary last minute changes.
- One day before the due date: Assignment due tomorrow reminder
- Due date: Assignment due!
For tests, it’s a bit easier. Here’s what I used to do:
- Two weeks before the test: reminder to organize and input all my notes up to that point
- One week before the test: Input the last remaining notes, create flashcards, and start studying!
- Three days before the test: Ask professor any questions you have and study crunch time!
- Day before the test: Last minute cramming!
- Test day!
Do this for each big assignment or midterm you have. Smaller assignments that are only going to take you a day to do start to finish I usually would only add a reminder a week before the deadline and the day before, but for larger projects I found that having a more thorough schedule written out took away the fear that I was forgetting something and kept me on track.
2. Get organized in college by getting to know your professors
Throughout my undergrad I was consistently amazed by how few of my classmates ever talked to their professors. Your professor is your golden ticket to the course–if you don’t understand something, they have the answer. And believe it or not, the prof wants you to succeed! Some of them are more gruff than others, but you’re an adult–and you’re paying for an education from this person. So go talk to them! Get to know them! You never know–maybe they’ll be a good contact for later research projects or part-time jobs in your field.
If you feel overwhelmed, get to know your profs. They can help you with studying more effectively and by talking to them you may start to feel more on top of things before you know it.
3. Get organized in college by creating a study schedule
If you want to get organized in college, plan when you’ll study each class. If you take 5 classes, for instance, maybe assign each day of the week to studying a different class with your busier days getting your easier classes and your more free/open days getting your more assignment-heavy, difficult classes. I found Spanish really easy, so when I had only 2 free hours on one day, that was the one that got Spanish, whereas the class that I had an open block from 10 AM to 2 PM got my child psychopathology class.
If you stick to this schedule, where you get everything you need to do for that week done on the allocated day, you’ll never be behind. Dealing with the course load of one class a day is a lot less overwhelming than thinking about all 5 every day!
4. Get organized in college by creating a master binder for notes
A lot of people use notebooks, and that can work too, but I love using binders for notes because of the flexibility! Missed class one day? Simply copy someone’s notes and slot them in where they should have been. It’s all in order, and you can take out one day’s worth of notes at a time without tearing them out of the notebook.
I used to have a binder with dividers that I held everything in. I had one divider for each class and one for blank paper. Then at the very beginning of the binder I had my class schedule and any other important information I needed (emergency numbers, for instance) printed on one sheet of paper.
My first year of school I was completely unorganized. I had notes all over the place spread between 3 different notebooks and when it came to midterm season I didn’t know where to start. By switching to having everything in one binder I found it easier to get organized in college and–bonus–I was way less stressed!
5. Get organized in college by printing out all the information you need and keep it in your binder
The great thing about the binder is that you can insert other pages, not just notes. So take that syllabus you got the first week of class, print it out, punch holes in it and slot it into your binder with the appropriate notes. That way you always have that important information with you–no more stressing about what office your prof’s open hours are at again!
6. Get organized in college by setting up a file organization system
Although I loved my hand-written notes in college, I did transfer them to my computer. I liked keeping my notes online in Google Drive so that if anything happened to my computer or my binder, I wasn’t without my notes. But just like I learned with my handwritten notes, I quickly learned that having a ton of random files of notes didn’t help me much.
The method I use to organize notes is this: I have a folder for each class and within that folder I have (a) the syllabus (b) a file for each assignment (with the assignment information/instructions in it) and (c) one master-file with all of my notes for that semester (class AND textbook).
That way, instead of having a file for notes for the September 28th lecture on Chapter 3 and a file for Chapter 3 Textbook notes, it was all in one place. There’s less redundancy that way, saving you time.
7. Get organized in college by scheduling in some fun activities–don’t study all the time!
It’s tempting at the beginning of the semester to over-schedule your study time and forget that you’re a human who needs rest, too.
Make it a habit from day 1 to take some time to just relax every now and then. Join the Zumba classes on your campus, or start rock climbing! Go to the park on Saturdays with a good book while the sun comes up. Whatever floats your boat, do it and do it consistently. Burnout is real, and taking time to enjoy life is a great way to still feel human–even when midterms hit.
What are some of your best organizational tips for college? Share them in the comments and let’s chat!
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