Whether it’s the last semester of your senior year, the second semester of your freshman year, or anywhere in-between, getting (and staying) organized in college is extremely important and helpful.
For some of you, organization may come naturally and feel like second nature. I, for one, am obsessed with putting and keeping things in their place. (I even have a Pinterest board devoted to organization titled “Therapy”; I may, in fact, be insane.) For others, however, it takes real effort and self-discipline to keep things neat and tidy all semester long.
As a recent college graduate, I’ve definitely done my fair share of experimenting with different techniques for staying put-together over the years, and I hope that the following tips and tricks help you have a more successful, organized, and stress-free semester!
1. Multiple Subject Notebooks with Dividers
Product Info: Spiral Notebooks – Mead (Five Star)
Using a multiple subject notebook is by far my number one tip for staying organized all semester long because it’s ridiculously easy to manage. If you’re taking five classes this semester, buy a 5-subject notebook, then simply assign each of your classes a corresponding section in your notebook to take notes and store papers and syllabi.
My holy grail spiral notebook is Mead’s Five Star Advance one (which you can find practically anywhere), because it has dividers and pockets made with super-strong plastic that won’t rip halfway into the semester. These notebooks also have a place for you to store a pen or pencil, which I always found really convenient.
I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through four-and-a-half years of college without using a planner. They are such a lifesaver and can help prevent so many potential disasters and mishaps throughout the semester.
My top tip for using planners is to immediately sit down with your syllabus from each class at the very beginning of the semester and write down when every single assignment, exam, project, etc. is due. This way, you can see which weeks will be stress-free and easy, and which ones have tons of assignments and exams so you can plan accordingly and make sure everything gets done in time.
Getting everything penciled in is only the first step, the second step is to check your planner religiously (and look ahead every once in a while) to make sure a forgotten assignment or group project isn’t about to sneak up on you!
3. Colored Pens/Highlighters
These supplies may come across as a no-brainer, but using different colored pens and highlighters in a strategic way can really make a difference in your studying techniques and possibly help you get better grades.
I used colored pens by assigning a specific color to every class I was taking each semester, and then used that colored pen to write down assignment and exam dates in my planner. This prevents important things getting looked over on busy days and weeks, since you will mentally separate and categorize your writing due to the different colors on the page.
Highlighters really come in handy when studying for exams, especially when professors hold review sessions. Rather than frantically trying to write everything down, you can just go through your notes and highlight important topics that will be on the exam.
4. Index Cards
Once again, while index cards may seem obvious when preparing for exams or staying organized, they can truly make a world of difference if you incorporate them into your study habits in a way that works with your unique style of learning.
Personally, I can’t remember anything unless I physically write it down, which means that writing things like key terms and vocabulary words on index cards (with their definition or explanation on the back) was by far the most effective way for me to memorize info for all of my past exams. I loved using index cards to study because they’re small, portable, cheap, and most importantly, simple.
Index cards are also super-helpful when writing research papers, especially when you first begin to look up sources, such as journal articles and books, for your citations. I made a habit of immediately writing a source’s information down on a card in whatever format the paper required so that when it came time to type up my reference section, I didn’t have to waste time searching all over the place for page numbers or journal titles. It keeps everything accurate, accessible, and organized, which makes the entire paper writing process much less stressful in the long run.
What do you think?
How do you stay organized during the semester? Did these tips help? What organization methods work for you? Tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment!