Back to school season is OFFICIALLY in full swing! I started school last Monday, August 28th. Fortunately, I was able to create a schedule so I am only on campus Monday nights, and Tuesday and Thursday mornings. However, I am responsible for two online classes as well. Whether you are a middle school, high school, undergrad or graduate student – being organized is key. And today I am going to share with you the method to my madness on keeping my shit together all semester long.
Step 1. The Basics
Figure out what your classes are, where they are, when they are, etc. Most professors will provide you with a syllabus. Check out the attendance policy, figure out how long it will take you to get there (will you walk? Bike? Drive? Hop on the bus?) and then figure out a logistical plan to maximize productivity.
For example, on Tuesdays and Thursday’s I have class from 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. So before or after, I might spend a little time in the library, where I am free of distractions, to get some things done since I’m already out. I like to go before hand so I can save money by sipping on a coffee I made at home.
Step 2. Supplies
Your syllabus might list specific supplies you will need for class. For example, my Monday night class is a photography class. I need a digital storage device with 16GB and a DSLR camera. This example is a bit extreme, but you get the point.
For each class (with the exception of the two I take online), I have one notebook and a folder. I literally go into Meijer, find the .99 cent section and grab em’ from there because #collegebudget.
I also buy a pack of pencils and pens. For me, I write better with good pens, so I will spend $3 on ballpoint pens (always in black). This is a personal decision, but it drives me absolutely crazy when my pen ink goes in and out and my notes become messy.
Step 3. Digital
Even with my on campus classes, I have a digital storage file on my computer. It looks like this:
Then within those folders, I have sub folders:
Make sure you have a digital copy of everything. I am very forgetful, so it is easy for me to leave a paper copy behind at home. If I have a digital copy, I can make a 5 minute pit stop at the library on the way to class and reprint. To be even EXTRA organized, backup a file on a Google Drive account.
Step 4. Note Taking
Firstly, figure out whether you prefer digital or hand written. Originally, I thought I preferred digital because I’m a faster typer than writer. But I have found over the years that I consume and remember information better if I write it out.
Then, figure out the format you want to take your notes in. Outline format? Bullet points? One long script? Figure out what works for you and capitalize on it. Make sure it is organized and easy to study or you will be kicking yourself later!
Step 5. Studying.
Everyone has a different method when it comes to studying. I know people who simply read their notes over twice and get an A on their exam. Others create Powerpoints, flashcards, hire tutors and get A’s.
My personal method, is to skim my notes a couple times and then create a fake test from it. I use my notes as a “study guide”, then sleep on it. The next morning I take my “fake test”, give it a few hours and then “grade” my “fake test.” This way I am seeing the information three different ways and I can consume it and comprehend it much easier.
All in all, the biggest part of getting organized is to figure out what you’re working with, create time slots, minimize procrastination and then jump in with both feet. Good luck this semester!
Do you have more study tips? Tips on staying organized? Leave them in the comments below or comment them on our latest Instagram picture!