Organization Tips for University/College

Hello everyone! Happy 2015…way late I know! I am terribly sorry. I have promised to keep up with all of my blogging better than I have before but I again have entirely broken that promise. So, my deep apologies to my loyal readers. I really have been the worst scatter-brain with classes getting more difficult, things happening like Christmas and New Year during the winter break; I don’t know, but finding the time to blog has somehow been completely left out of my schedule. Even though I have wanted to post things, it just never seemed to happen. On a positive note: As part of my 2015 resolutions I made a blogging schedule! I will be posting once a week. I am committed and ready and I will be HERE – I have planned for Wednesday to be the blog day. Though, if the semester gets crazy I might switch it to Friday as the posting day. Either way, I will be here! Today is an exception as it is a Sunday.

Now, before my rambling goes on any farther, on to today’s post:

IMG_1803 This is a picture of my cat, Bailey…because…cute…

I am doing a university/college organization post. When I was first starting college I didn’t really know how to handle all of the classes and the homework assignments, projects, etc. Over the course of my studies I have played around enough with my style of learning and sorting everything so that it works for me –  I found my own system of how I work it. I wanted to share it with you, and I am by no means a master of this field…but I think my experience and my suggestions may help some of you.

So, the first thing that I think is hugely important, and perhaps to all people (especially these days with all the resources at everyone’s finger tips) it has become kind of common sense or useless but it’s getting yourself a physical planner like an organizer or agenda. I find that my phone as an organizer doesn’t really do as well as my paper agenda for keeping me on-task. I know some colleges and universities supply their students with planners. I was supplied with them but never used them, I always just sort of written them off like a useless item. Oh, how wrong I was! They are perfect for homework, course work, appointments, important dates, or anything along those lines. If your school does not supply you with a planner, it’s okay – you can find them almost anywhere and most don’t cost much at all, so invest in one with the day-to-day style pages. If I don’t write something down where I can find it and refer to it, I can forget stuff and then I will be screwed for the course- the planner is my savior.

quo-vadis-2013-14-club-sapa-x-32-academic-weekly-planner-3.5-x-5.25-pqu3322-2

The next tip I have for you is getting some kind of sticky notes or those little tab style stickies. Better yet a combo of both! They are great for pinning your spot in a textbook for where you left off or what to read and remember. They are also miracle workers for in-class “know me!” markers. Like if I write down a conversion chart for my chemistry course and we are told that we will not be given it for exams, I draw a bubble around the chart and add sticky tab that says “know me” on it. Easy and you won’t miss or forget that kind of reminder. I also use them in my planner for important assignments, presentations, or project deadlines; I stick it on that day and then it is right there for me to not forget.

Color! Having color involved in your studying and organizing makes a colossal difference. Like with sticky notes and such, try to find ones with a multitude of colors in a set. I use different colors to identify the urgency of what needs to be done, to mark important things I must know, or memorize. Highlighters of different colors for notes and in-text highlighting also works wonders for visually grabbing your attention and helping you remember. I have 5 different colored highlighters by BIC, I find them to last a long time and their 5-pack is a perfect color assortment. When you’ve got a big block of text it is incredible difficult to study off of, but highlighting all the important bits and using that as reference when you study is a huge help. I also have Paper Mate fine marker-type pens for notes. What I do with the pens is I kind of have different colors for topics or valuable information, solutions vs questions…etc. They also last forever! I shit you not, I have had these Paper Mate pens for like 3/4 years and they still have not run dry. So, yeah…color! Adds some fun to your school life and also you can play around with the colors and find a good way to use color for yourselves, it really is a big help once you get a good system down.

colour_wheelI guess now on to some of the basics:

A pencil case of some sort. Nothing sucks more than having to dig through your backpack or whatever to find your stuff and losing pens every week. Very annoying. Don’t need that added frustration. I have a mid-sized fabric one that has a lot of room in it for all of my things. I also have a plastic one (like that soft bendable plastic, what’s that called? Not too sure how to explain it better) with two compartments because that keeps things safe from drink spillage or ink leaking out; plus the two compartments are good for keeping my calculator and pens separate. I switch them up depending on the type of classes I have…but I am using my fabric one this semester.

As for pens and pencils. That differs on preference and what courses you take. A designer student will obviously have a different collection of utensils than a science student. I find that a small ruler is good for any subject. It is useful for outlining or underlining, or making straight arrows. I don’t know…I find that messy notebooks are incredibly infuriating to study from, so I always keep my notebook clean and as neat as possible with as little room possible for error when interpreting the notes later on. I also prefer to write in pen. So, if you are like me, having a reliable correction tape is just epic. I actually used to love pencils but I find pens easier to read and I can use color variety, plus it is easier to write in pen – mechanical pencils break and regular ones require constant sharpening. That said, for math and physics subjects I tend to stick with pencil for the most part.

I know some people probably don’t care for their notes being all nice and neat, but I do…and if you want to be messy and it works for you then by all means disregard that part. But for those of us who don’t work well with messy notebooks you can take notes in class (when your professor speaks quickly or you are too engaged to bother with organizing right then) that are legible and just easy to grasp, then come home and re-write them in a separate notebook which you study from later. I sometimes have two notebooks like that where I just write, write, write in class and then get home and re-write the notes neatly in the way that I like. Sometimes I add my own notes from textbooks in there to clarify terms or topics as well – a good habit to get into so you don’t spend time flipping around textbooks searching for definitions or clarification if you are doing some quick review before class. Along that line, what helps me is to include page numbers in my notes of where the topic starts or where each important fact is…that makes studying so much easier as the course progresses. Try to invest in thicker paper notebooks, they are just so much better, you can write on both sides of the page and they don’t let ink leak through. Also as a good idea, get different colored notebooks for each course so you can easily find the right notebook when needed.

51_892515002415_MAIN Notebook stack 4Moving on: I like to decorate my writing and notes. I don’t mean goofy stickers and ribbons, obviously. I find that when you have just blocks of text it is BORING and it makes you almost reluctant to want to study because you think like “ugh god” and you are contemplating just saying screw-it and walking away because you are so stressed and so tired during exam weeks. But when you have bubbles around important things, and sticky notes, and colors instead of monotonous black and white it really takes the edge off and helps keep you engaged and willing to get into what you must do. Plus it sticks in your memory much better! So start right from the beginning of the class with making your notes more interesting.

Lastly it is the heavy backpack dilemma! I have struggled with carrying like 4 different binders with me to class and added with a lunch and pencil case and whatever else I need, my back was just mangled by the time I was home that day. I just recently, actually, found a perfect solution to this. I hate the multi-subject notebooks. I find them to be more annoying than helpful. I hate running out of pages in one subject because then what? The manageability of those notebooks is too complicated for me – high school, maybe would be an OK place for notebooks of that sort. So I bring a large 1.5 inch binder with me for each day and in that binder I have dividers for every course, and my notebook for every course, and loose leaf paper for additional things I might have to hand in at the end of the class. At home, though, I have separate binders for each course where I keep hand-outs and course syllabi in. So I have that organized by subject at home, but just bring what I need to every class. Back = saved! Instead of having to carry around everything every day for every single subject you take, having a single binder or even a series of single notebooks is how I would advise you to operate. Unless you are asked to take EVERYTHING for that one subject into your class, then you don’t need it. Leave it at home in separate binders, take only what you need for that day with you. Otherwise you will get a bad back from carrying all the unnecessary stuff around.

heavy-backpack-468x351 <— poor fellow, don’t let this be you!

Keeping your stuff organized from the beginning is essential, it is going to lead you to success in your university/college. And that’s the point – you want to be successful in what you are doing, otherwise it is just a waste of time and money. And keeping it fun with colors, highlighters, and sticky notes from the start may seem silly and unimportant but it works! You will thank yourself when exams come around.

I hope this post was helpful for you and that you enjoyed it. If you would like more college/university tips such as study tips, success advice, or what have you…please comment bellow and let me know!

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