With the end of Open Air Pub comes a bitter awakening: The end of add-drop. Goodbye to missing class because it’s syllabus week; so long to lounging on Lower Field; and adios to putting off that textbook purchase until you figure out if the class is for you. With the end of the add-drop period comes the fresh reality of readings starting to pile on, assignment notifications popping up, and the symphonic hum of clacking keyboards throughout campus.
The start of classes invites a common mantra among students: “This is the year where I try to stay on top of everything.” That ‘everything’ can be a long list: Don’t miss class; do work out, complete readings on time, be prepared for conferences, and make something healthy for dinner.
As someone who has difficulty adhering to these ‘September standards,’ I constantly find myself paying the price in October. Missed readings abound, my lecture notes aren’t up to par, and my fridge is empty. Getting organized with a few simple routines can make a world of difference when it comes to your own health, hectic periods of the school year, or even your day-to-day understanding of your courses.
More than supporting academic success, keeping organized during the semester can be a form of self-care. A bit of planning at the start of the semester can minimize frantic McLennan all-nighters.
The following is a list of my most useful organizational tricks that I hope to adhere to, to make this semester, the semester that I finally stay on top of my studies.
1. Plan out important dates
Upon receiving your course syllabus, mark all the significant due dates on your calendar: Midterms, papers, presentations, and anything else with a due date—write it down! By recording these dates, you’ll have peace of mind knowing exactly how your assignments interfere with one another and how much time you have between deadlines to shoulder the workload. It also ensures that you don’t get caught off-guard by a surprise deadline.
2. Part 1: Attend class. Part 2: Attend class, on time.
This sounds simple, but go to class. Don’t hit snooze on your alarm. Sometimes lecture recordings fail to upload or the audio malfunctions. To truly get the most out of a course, the best strategy is to actually attend it. That way, you will understand the material better, and you won’t need to worry about scrambling for notes or explanations of concepts once midterms roll around.
3. Don’t be afraid to handwrite notes
Sometimes jotting it down old-school is the best way to help your brain soak up course material. Even if it means rewriting typed notes onto paper later on, the process of writing out concepts can be therapeutic, but also forces you to think through the material on a deeper level, more so than a mad-dash typing spree usually allows.
4. Make a realistic study plan
A mile-long to-do list can be overwhelming. Break down the work, day-by-day, into more manageable pieces. Make an approachable to-do list of the subjects you are going to tackle, or the specific chapters you are going to cover. An achievable plan also helps you to monitor your progress, ensure you’re staying on track of your goals, and feel triumphant in finishing your entire workload.
5. Helpful resources to support your focus if you need it
If your own pure motivation isn’t enough against the lure of social media, websites like KeepMeOut and Chrome extensions like Self Control filter out the distractions for you. Sometimes, digital horse-blinders can be the best way to make sure you stay on track.
Keeping these helpful tips in mind, I hope that this newfound sense of organization will help me keep both my assignments and my stress-level under control. Careful planning, while ridding myself of the Fieldhouse-sized pile of last-minute assignments on my desk, is invaluable. So long, add-drop; here’s to this semester, the semester.