Below are my five top tips for organizing your daily and weekly college activities in an approachable and manageable way to keep school simple
by Caitlin Chenus
Student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Have you ever gotten home from class, dropped your backpack on the floor, and flopped onto the couch wondering how you were going to sort through all of the things you need to get done? Same with me.
It happens to all of us: we get to a point in the week or month or semester when we’re burnt out, life is insanely hectic and we don’t even know where to begin, much less get it all done on time.
If you feel like you need to reorganize your academic life then this is the place to start. Below are my five top tips for organizing your daily and weekly college activities in an approachable and manageable way.
Tip 1: Check your Syllabi
Every college class you take is going to have a syllabus. The syllabus is your best friend and I recommend printing each one you receive and keeping it handy in a folder or better yet, keeping a folder on your laptop marked Syllabi and having all of yours downloaded to that folder.
The syllabus contains your professor and TA’s contact and office hour information, important deadlines and due dates, grade breakdowns, and usually a calendar of classes with reading or other assignments listed by the date they are due. Once per week, sit down and actually go through each of your syllabi and write down the assignments due for the following week.
I typically do this on Wednesdays because my week is very front loaded, but you can do Thursdays or even Fridays if your weeks are more evenly balanced.
Tip 2: Sticky Notes are your Best Friend
I love sticky notes. I use them to write down everything from grocery lists to birthday presents I need to get for friends and family. I also use them to write down my assignments each week.
If you have a Mac, you can use the Stickies application and have sticky notes literally on your desktop: one for each class listing each assignment with the due date for that week.
On a Windows computer, the same application is called Sticky Notes. These are great because, unlike paper sticky notes, they won’t get lost! And each time you open up your laptop, they’re there, waiting for you to cross off your assignments.
Tip 3: Use a Planner
I didn’t actually start using a planner until halfway through my junior year of college and now I’m not quite sure how I survived until then. Now, my planner goes with me everywhere, at school, to friends’ houses, home and wherever else I travel to.
It’s color-coded and literally everything I have to do or remember is inside it because otherwise I forget. Any planner that has the days broken down with enough space to write a good amount in will work.
Use your planner to list things like when you plan to go to the gym, when you see friends, grocery shop, and do laundry. Most importantly, I use my planner to break down when I am going to do the assignments due each week for class.
After I write down the assignments in my sticky notes, I also write them into my planner. This allows me to glance at my week and take in everything I need to get done and when I’m going to do it.
Tip #4: Go to Office Hours
Go to office hours for all of your professors and TAs at least once. First of all, if you attend a larger state school like I did for undergrad, you probably have at least some classes with several hundred students in them and going to office hours allows your professor to put a face to the name on their attendance sheet.
If you go and are polite and ask questions about the material, later when the professor is grading your assignments and exams, they’ll remember that and know that you take initiative with your studies.
I highly recommend this, even if you don’t have any specific questions or aren’t struggling with the class, try to visit your professor at least once and talk to them about yourself and your goals throughout and after school.
Tip #5: Join a Study Group
I hate being forced into group projects by professors. Absolutely hate it. However, I love studying with friends and classmates I actually like. I highly recommend joining a study group because it allows you to talk through class material andI typically find that I haven’t caught all of the material so having others share is always extremely helpful.
Everyone is busy and you probably don’t have the time to join a different study group for each class you have. I recommend joining one for your hardest class if possible, so you can do the best you can and later show the professor how hard you’ve worked if need be.
College is hard and it’s much harder if you’re unorganized. Hopefully these tips will help bring a little more sanity to your life and allow you to feel more confident in your academic career.