My classes for the fall semester began on Monday, and already my to-do list is a mile long. I’m diving headfirst into the most academically intensive semester yet, and I don’t want to drown. Before I get overwhelmed with essays, meetings, and countless textbook chapters, I want to get organized–and stay organized. Here are my tried and true top 5 tips for starting the semester off right.
Read all of your syllabi in advance.
And then keep checking back on them at least once per week. People aren’t kidding when they say that teachers won’t remind you of upcoming deadlines, so be sure to keep track of assignments and tests. It’s also nice to be prepared and know in advance if you’ll be assigned a research paper or group project halfway through the semester, so you can start work on it early before you have no time and three papers all due on the same day (trust me–it happens).
Get to know your classmates and your teachers.
If you’re taking a class for your major, you’ll most likely be seeing both your peers and your professor again, so it’s helpful if you form good relationships with them. Plus, if you ever need to miss class, you’ll have people you can text for the notes that you missed. Regardless, it never hurts to see friendly faces in class, especially if the material is tough/boring/all of the above.
Figure out what your learning style is, and stick to it.
I learn best by listening to someone speak and by writing information down. Once I figured this out, studying became infinitely easier. I started taking two sets of notes and making sure to always ask questions or participate in class, and since then, my grades have greatly improved. (Here’s a test you can take to find out your learning style!)
Keep a calendar.
This is the single most important thing I do to stay on top of everything. I put all of my classes, club meetings, lunches with friends, shows I have tickets for, etc. on my calendar as soon as they’re scheduled (so I remember, and so I don’t double book myself). I use both my iPhone’s calendar (synced with my computer) and a physical calendar notebook, which has weekly pages where I can also list all of my assignments, chores, and errands for the week. This is what works for me, but it might not work for you. However, find out what calendar system works for you, as it will be endlessly helpful–you’ll never again walk into class and realize there was an assignment due that you completely forgot about.
Get lots of sleep.
I know it seems counterintuitive to get 8+ hours of sleep when you probably have 8+ hours of homework to do every night, but if you’re not well rested, how can you expect to do well on your assignments or remember what you read in your textbook? My last semester at Towson, I got a 4.0. I also got 8 hours of sleep (almost) every night. I firmly believe sleep is crucial to being a healthy, functioning human being.
How do you stay organized during the semester? Let me know in the comments below!
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