Whether this is your first semester or last semester, it’s important to get organized prior to it starting. Most courses will post your syllabus beforehand, so print them out (or not) and have them ready! Some schools do not provide a syllabus for you (I just learned that) So if you don’t have a syllabus…I’m sorry, that’s quite devastating.
Step 1: Gather thy syllabi.
READ them. Know what will be expected of you. How many tests and assignments are you going to have? How are those weighed in terms of your grade?
Step 2: Write it down.
Once you have skimmed through your syllabus, I write down exams and assignments into my planner. I put the exams on the monthly part, and assignments & exams on the weekly portion. I used to put the assignments on the monthly calendar but it gets too cluttered.
*When I say assignments, it’s not just big assignments like case studies or a paper, I write down the assigned reading chapters as well!*
Step 3 (Optional): iStudiez Pro
Use istudiez pro (or any other app) to enter your assignments. I (used to) put EVERYTHING in this app. Class times, grades (it allows you to select their weight), reading assignments, exams, quizzes etc. This may seem like overkill, but it helps to have things in multiple places. Plus it syncs with my phone, iPad and Mac so wherever I am, I have access.
Step 4: Create your schedule!
Now that you know which weeks are going to be busier than others, this will help you figure out which weeks you can lump your “Me/Family time” and which weeks you’ll have to spread it out.
To create your schedule, you can either write in in your planner like I do, or create an Excel spreadsheet. There are various resources online to create a weekly time schedule. You can be as detailed as you like. I try to put things like lunch, dinner and sleep time in because it helps me to remember to eat (I know, I shouldn’t have that problem) and serves as motivation to get everything done before my selected bedtime.
Step 5: Read.
I SKIM. I do not actively read prior to going to class because I tend to focus on too much of the little details and it distracts me. Unless I have a quiz, then I do something in-between a skim and an active read. Everyone is different though. Some people make notes, I prefer to make small notes and then supplement from the textbook AFTER class because I now have a better focus on the subject matter. If you want to see my post about making notes from the PPT, view it here! I also DO NOT highlight. I feel that for me, it’s more of a distraction trying to figure out the colors and labels and it confuses me more than anything. If it doesn’t work for you, LET IT GO. You’re not here to be like everyone else and study the same. Everyone learns differently, do what’s best for you and don’t waste time on things that aren’t!
Step 6: Breathe, Stretch, Shake…Let it Go
Seriously, take a deep breath. Stretch and shake it off. It seems like a lot, but taking a couple hours to get organized is going to save you a lot of time in the long run…believe me!