Everyone’s level of organization sets the foundation for how the rest of their semester will flow. If students haphazardly shove everything into a backpack, important information can get lost within the first week and it may slip their mind that an assignment is actually due.
First thing’s first, use a planner. Some planners with monthly and weekly pages give an overview of students’ months and help to keep track of day-to-day assignments.
“I get all of my syllabuses out and I look at when all the tests are or big essays or group projects, and then I write them out ahead of time in my big calendar. This way I know what’s coming up,” said Mackenzie Usiski, a third-year student.
If keeping a physical planner isn’t ideal, use a smartphone app. Things 3, an app that brings together students’ calendars by allowing them to log tasks or assignments, sets due dates and lets students choose when to start the assignment. It also has settings and tags to help organize entries or mark them as higher priority.
The app costs the same as a planner, about $10 on the iTunes App Store, and is only available for iPhones. Google Play has a similar free app called TODO LIST Task Reminder.
Using divider tabs or different notebooks for each course is also helpful for students looking to stay organized. Keeping one binder with a section for each subject may be the least overwhelming. This ensures notes from different classes don’t get mixed up so students don’t begin reviewing biology and end up reading about interpersonal communication.
To avoid stressing about last-minute assignments, commit to having them finished a day or two early. If other assignments take more time than expected or an event occurs, there’s at least a little more time to work on it.
CSUF kinesiology professor Patricia Laguna recommends using mnemonic devices, including rhyming, memorizing in blocks, imagery, repetition and acronyms to study for exams.
“For me, it’s definitely repetition. Doing it a bunch so I get a process down,” Usiski said. “Flashcards really help too, with remembering key facts, and I’ll link a word to another word if they sound similar to really memorize that concept.”
Staying organized and making good study habits also means using time wisely.
“College students need to learn the word ‘no.’ It’s OK to say no to others’ requests in order to follow your plan,” Laguna wrote in an email. “Students who don’t know how to say ‘no’ end up engaged in irrelevant things and end up raising their stress levels because they now have to get the priorities done.”
Staying on top of school, planning and completing tasks early doesn’t translate to a lacking social life, but finding a balance is essential. These tips will (hopefully) get students one step closer to finding their equilibrium.