girl writing in notebook with coffee nearby

How to Get Organized in College

Featured Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

It’s that time of the year: back to school! Whether you’re going back to high school or college, everyone loves to start off feeling organized! Today, we’re sharing my best methods + tips for getting organized in college.

Step 1: Pull out your syllabus from each class.

I’m going to warn you now: this is the most time consuming process we’ll talk about today. However, it is the most beneficial step to a good semester in college and soon you’ll see why.

Open a new Word Document (or Google Docs, if you prefer) and start setting up the document. I like to start with a centered title of “Due Dates Fall 2019” or something similar, but you don’t have to. Next, list out each of the months for the semester with space between such as:






For this next step, it is up to you to decide how you should format the due dates. I start each line with the date so that I can easily put all of my assignments in chronological order. You could then list the course name or abbreviation (COM 100) and then a basic title of the assignment. This could look something like:

3 – Intro to Communication – Introduction Assignment
5 – Intro to Public Relations – Introduction Assignment

Or it could look more like:

3 – Introduction Assignment – COM 100
5 – Introduction Assignment – PR 100

It doesn’t matter how you format this step as long as you know the absolute basics like the assignment title, due date, and what class it’s for. My best tip with this step is to keep the assignment title short and to the point. When I create this document for the semester, I make sure to keep each entry to one line so it’s the quickest reference I have for all of my classes throughout the semester.

Now, repeat this process with each of your classes. I’m only taking three courses this semester so it took me around an hour to do, including messing with the text size, font, and margins to get everything to fit on one sheet of paper. Before I played with the formatting, a few finals due dates were the only things on page 2. However, this isn’t always possible or practical depending on the amount of classes you’re taking and the amount of due dates for each course.

Congratulations for finishing that step! It’s definitely the most tedious but I promise you that it will be so helpful for the rest of the semester! It has saved my butt so many times in previous semesters. Once you know how you prefer it to be formatted, you’ll do this quicker each semester afterwards.

Step 2: Start or update a virtual calendar.

If you read my August Monthly Favorites post, then you already know how much I have been loving Google Calendar. I bought a planner specifically for college last semester and I always forgot it at home or forgot to update it. So one of my summer goals was to figure out how to adapt to an online calendar system.

I am so thankful for Google Calendar! I set up multiple calendars dedicated to work, school, bills, personal events, appointments, etc. Just like setting up physical planners, the set up feels tedious and annoying. However, it’s so worth sacrificing an hour or so at the beginning of the semester so it’s much easier.

If you’re physically attending college, you could use a school calendar to block out the times you’ll be in class. It would also be helpful to include your work schedule on this calendar so you can plan your study time and free time efficiently. It could also helpful to have calendars for things like your bills, car maintenance, and healthcare appointments.

Like I mentioned in my August Favorites post, my favorite feature of Google Calendar is the ability to view as many or as few of your calendars as you’d like. It’s helpful to see an overview of everything but it gets overwhelming quickly. You can simplify your calendar in seconds and it can really help you determine what you need to get done today and what can wait until tomorrow.

Step 3: Setting up your note-taking system.

I started using binders in high school and they honestly changed so much about my school experience. They have allowed me to be infinitely more organized than just having a notebook and folder for each class.

By having separate notebooks and folders for classes, it’s easy to forget one or the other in your dorm room. This can feel like a catastrophic situation if you have something due for that class and it’s in your folder at home. You can cut down on this possibility by keeping a binder for each class. I also love binders because you can insert worksheets or supplemental materials into the matching section of your notes. I can’t stress just how useful this is when you’re studying and you have a lot of additional hand-outs.

Since I’m in an online college program, I don’t receive an endless amount of handouts. I don’t print off my readings unless they’re PDF files that rotate between being right-side-up and upside down. Yes, I actually had a professor who managed to do that last semester. Instead of rotating the file between every page, I printed it out, correctly rotated them, and placed them in my binder.

While I am a major fan of binders, I know they’re not practical for everyone or every schedule. If a notebook and folder works best for you, then surely do that! If you’re the type of person who prefers digital notes, then keep it up!

In my opinion, the key to getting organized in college is figuring out how you prefer to store your course materials and stick to it for the rest of the semester! This way, you will know exactly where everything is when you’re looking for it.

I hope you found this post helpful!

Leave a comment below telling me what tip was your favorite + one of your own tips for getting organized in college! I love hearing how other people do it, especially when I can adapt something new into my routine.

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