Skip to main content
Logo image

Sound Writing

Subsection 10.4.1 Getting Your School Life Organized

List 10.4.1. Strategies for Organizing your School Life
  1. Get a planner and use it. We discuss this strategy above (see Making and Using a Time Chart), but it bears repeating!
  2. Determine which resources you need for each class and buy/rent/download them.
    1. Even before the semester starts, use the textbook page on the bookstore website to figure out what you need for the semester.
      This is something to look into right away, because in many classes you need to be reading from the textbook before each class. In other classes that require you to read a variety of smaller texts, you generally don’t need them all at once. So check your syllabus and prioritize the ones you will be using in the first few weeks of classes, and make a list on your planner for the books you still need to get.
    2. On the first day of class when you get the syllabus, see if you need any special computer applications for the class and download them early.
      This way, if you run into problems, you have time to solve the problem or go to Tech Services before any assignments requiring the application are due.
    3. As soon as you can, print and/or download readings that are posted online so that you can store them in a binder and/or digital folder.
      That way, you can access them without WiFi and don’t have to worry about a long line at the printer when you want to grab a reading in a hurry.
  3. Designate a place to keep track of materials for each class.
    The system that works best for you will depend somewhat on your classes and your personal preferences, but the basic idea is that you will be working with a lot of paper and digital resources for all of your classes. It’s helpful if you use the same basic organizational structure for your digital documents as for your paper documents. A computer is required for lots of assignments in college, and pretty soon documents and readings will start piling in distant folders. Soon, you may find that you can also access some documents after typing approximately twenty different search words in the “search my computer” bar, until they pop up in a Documents folder within a Documents folder within a Miscellaneous folder. Don’t let this happen! Instead, make folders with the name of each class on your personal computer desktop, Google Docs, or your school desktop. This is where the materials for each class will live. Here are some specifics on different kinds of materials you’ll have:
    • Notes. For nearly all classes, you’ll be keeping notes on paper. If your classes require a lot of lecture notes, a notebook for each class works well. If you have classes that are always on the same day, it can be a good option to have a two- or three-subject notebook for those classes.
    • Readings. If your class uses a collection of various readings, that can lead to a lot of papers floating around! Unless lifting a giant backpack is part of your weight-training plan, you will probably not want to bring everything from the whole semester to class every day and you will likely want to have a folder for the week’s printed paper readings and a binder in your room where you store readings from earlier and later weeks in the semester.
      • If your readings are printed out, you will probably find it easiest to organize your stored readings chronologically by week (so, the readings progress from the beginning to the end of the semester, right there in your binder).
      • If your readings are electronic, you may want to rename the files so that they’re easy for you to find—you might want to name them by the author’s last name, or you may want to name them by the date on which you’re reading them—or by both the author name and the date.
    • Assignments. You may receive a paper copy of assignments in class, but it’s helpful also to download each assignment from your professor’s online learning management system and add it to the digital folder corresponding to that class.
  4. Collect contact information from at least one person in each class.
    Everyone ends up suffering from illness at one point or another, but it doesn’t have to make you fall behind in classes. Your week will be a lot easier if you can get the notes and new assignments from a classmate the day of, rather than having to wait until you’re recovered to set up a time to meet with your professor. This also gives you a go-to person to study with when exams and papers start coming up.
  5. Designate a study space that you will always have available.
    This may take a week or two to figure out, but it is really helpful to have at least one place that is accessible and where you can always work, free of clutter. This could be your desk in your room, but that desk always has to have space to work. So if you don’t think you can maintain that or if you keep a lot on your desk, maybe it’s the library or a study room in an academic building. Just find a place that you can always (or almost always) access, where you are able to get into a productive study “zone.”