How to Organize Your College Life

Posted October 1, 2012

College can be overwhelming. There are classes to study for, parties to attend, and cooking and cleaning that your mom no longer does for you. If you don’t have some semblance of organization in your college life, you’re in for a rough four years. But getting yourself organized doesn’t have to be hard. Use these tips and you’ll feel more in control of everything from your living space to your studying habits.

  1. Get a planner:

    And use it daily. If you wait to start your planner until you’re in the middle of the semester, you may have already missed something. Once you receive all your syllabi from the semester’s classes, write down every due date that’s already set and make sure to add others as they are assigned. As your social obligations start to fire up, you’ll also want to write down meetings as they’re scheduled. Your planner will become your go-to for everything schedule-related so keep up with writing down your plans so you’ll never miss a due date or event.

  2. Start a filing system:

    Now that you’re probably responsible for more documents and records (we’re talking bank statements, dorm contracts, student loans), it’s important to come up with a system so you keep everything and know where to find it down the road. You don’t need a full-fledged filing cabinet or dozens of folders to keep some important things straight. Just a few filing folders or an accordion folder can do the trick for now. Keep one for all your bank documents, one for anything you receive from your financial aid office or loan provider, one for degree plan information, etc. It’s also a great idea to make one on your computer, as well. Make separate folders for emails you receive that contain important info for the future or downloaded documents.

  3. Separate materials for each course:

    Sure, you only have five classes this semester. You won’t have that much to keep up with, right? Think again. From handouts to graded papers to notes, each class is going to have lots of loose pages to keep track of. Consider getting a separate binder or folder for each class, and definitely dedicate separate notebooks to taking notes in each class. If you’re looking for the rubric that will help you format your paper or just need to find the notes you need to study, separating class materials will make the process much easier and more efficient.

  4. Plan for your down time:

    You’ll probably realize fairly quickly that there’s more to being successful in college than just going to scheduled classes and meetings. You have to manage your free time to make sure you’re preparing for class, understanding the material, completing projects, and making time to unwind. Even though your planner says you’re free in the sense that nothing is scheduled, you need to make plans for your down time. Whether you write down specific times that you’ll be studying for certain classes or just have a general plan (that you’ll stick to!) of how much time you’ll spend on each course, knowing what you’ll do between classes can keep you from wasting your time without even realizing it.

  5. Keep track of purchases:

    For many people, college is the first time they’ve really had to budget for more than school lunches. Even if your parents are paying for most of your college expenses, they’re probably setting a limit for your spending, so college is a perfect time to learn a how to budget. Be aware of how much is in your bank account at all times and keep track of purchases. This will help you keep an eye on your spending, avoid overdraft fees, and also catch any suspicious activity that might happen on your card.

  6. Use all of the space in your room:

    Chances are your room, whether it’s in a dorm or an apartment, is about the size of a shoebox. To keep your space (and your mind) clear, you’ve got to get creative with the way you use space. Remove clutter by filling up spaces in an organized way. Create more shelf space in your closet, hang hooks or a pocket organizer over the doors, or raise your bed to make room for neat storage containers. Think of ways to use your vertical space and look for any missed opportunities that could reduce the mess and help keep everything in its rightful place.

  7. Prioritize:

    The 20-minute power nap you’ve scheduled into your day probably isn’t as important as completing the project that’s due tomorrow. Getting a head start on a philosophy paper might not be as pressing to you as getting coffee with your super-busy mentor. Staying organized is all about prioritizing your tasks for each day. Do the most important things first, or schedule the least important things around the ones you absolutely have to do. You’ll be less stressed and won’t waste any time.

Leave a Comment