To all college-bound Juniors and Seniors:
Organization is key. Think about how many times you have heard this phrase. I’m going to take a guess and say that you have probably heard this more times than you would like during your high school career. As much as you don’t want to admit this, your academic counselor, teachers, and parents are right. Without organization, it is likely that you will miss deadlines, become overwhelmed, and, ultimately, fall short in achieving your goals.
Success starts with motivation. If you are not motivated to do well in your classes, how can you? When I was in college at Penn, maintaining a planner was my saving grace. I used my planner to not only keep track of my assignments and tests, but to set aside time for social plans, appointments, and chores. Checking off my to-dos kept me on task and productive. I created The Complete Candidate in order to help students not only organize their college applications, but to build organizational habits that will help them during their college years.
Another way students can stay organized is to save their syllabi. I can’t emphasize this point enough! If your teacher hands out a syllabus on the first day, it is important. Don’t lose it. Highlight test dates and review your professor’s policies and grading scale.
Find a system of taking notes that works best for you. I developed a whole system of circling dates, underlining key people, highlighting important facts and writing different symbols in the margins of both my text books and my notebooks which allowed me to quickly go back and find what I needed. Whether it be Cornell notes, color-coding, or another method entirely, taking – and keeping track of – good notes will help you when it comes time to study for the exam.
Understanding the time of day that you are most productive is also important. This may be obvious, but if you are a morning person, take morning classes or plan to study during this time. If you are a night owl, organize your schedule around studying after class.
There are many ways to stay organized in college. Your first quarter or semester will be a learning experience, but don’t get frustrated. The more you commit to staying organized, the easier it will be to succeed.