As many of us are aware, the move to college can be a huge transitionary moment for students of any age. Those who are fresh out of high school are going to be the most susceptible to really feeling those changes. Not only can making the move and getting settled in a new place be pretty daunting, but the new approach to school life and how they handle their work can be eye-opening as well. Here, we’re going to look at how new college students can find their rhythm with some tips to get them organized for college life.
Don’t underestimate a paper diary
While it might sound a little old-school, a paper diary can be a ton of use. We’re not talking about a journal for keeping track of your feelings (though these can be pretty good if you’re feeling stressed) but rather an organizational dairy that allows you to keep track of deadlines, and goals, and can allow you to leave little notes to yourself, such as when you should start getting ready for specific project due dates. Some colleges will give a diary away for free, but you should make sure that you get one that’s big enough to contain all of the notes that you’re likely to take and, at the start of each day, get into the habit of checking said diary.
Turn it into a to-do list
One of the apps that you want to immediately install on your phone is a decent to-do list. You should make sure that you’re always able to keep an eye on the tasks that are most immediately relevant, be it homework assignments, home chores, meal prep, anything you want to check outside of class, and club tasks. You can convert your diary into a to-do list that you can check at any point of the day. This way, it becomes even harder for things to slip your mind. Just bear in mind that if your to-do list starts getting a little crowded, it might be better to let some of the lower priority items off the list (for now), than to let yourself be overwhelmed by the list itself.
Start digitizing your notes
You might take a lot of notes in your classes by hand and if you’re more comfortable working that way, then you should keep it up. However, paper notes, especially if they’re on loose paper, can become incredibly easy to lose. For that reason, you should start digitizing your notes and storing them in a folder that’s dedicated to school work. You might want to start organizing these files and folders early, separating them by course module, topic, and even date so that it’s easy to find what you need whenever it comes time to revise or to look back at certain topics for a project you’re working on. You can imagine how much more difficult it is to do this with paper notes.
Get equipped with the right tools
Your PC, laptop, or Mac is going to be one of the most vital tools for helping you get through your college years. Most of the work you do will be handled digitally, and you can waste a lot of time if you aren’t getting your hands on the tools that can help you streamline that work. Look at some of the best Mac apps for students and start downloading them or, if you’re not on Mac, search for the Windows equivalents. Being able to keep all of your academic sources managed and organized, converting images of text into actual text rather than having to retype them, and being able to quickly edit PDFs can save a ton of time when completing projects.
Schedule your time
For a lot of people, college represents a new level of freedom that allows them to cut loose, have fun, and enjoy socializing as independent adults. However, that freedom comes with the responsibility of managing it, as well. Routines and schedules can allow you to do this. By planning your sleep times, preparing meals ahead of time, and by setting aside specific times for studying, home chores, and even some relaxation and social time, you can make sure that you’re getting a good balance in your college life. Otherwise, it’s too easy to party away the time and easy for some to end up working all of the time, leading to an increased risk of burnout.
Find the place and time most productive for you
It can a little time to work out exactly what your groove is. When you work best and what kind of environment you need are something you should take the time to discover. Do you work best at the end of the night in your own room? Or do you prefer the college library after class is done? Make a note of when and where you are at your most productive. Then, whenever you need to study or do some work, block out some time so that you can set up that environment just right. Being able to find that groove can make a huge difference in how easily you find it to get into a day’s work.
Use the syllabus that your professor provides
Do you feel like you start falling behind too easily when you get into the class? This might be because your professor expects the students to have taken the time to get familiar with the syllabus they provide. Most professors will outline what topics they will be covering, and this can allow you to do a little cursory reading to make sure that you’re able to grapple with the topics that they’re going over. You might find them repeating some of what you have already learned, but this only makes it easier for you to engage with the topic on a deeper level, ask questions, and learn it even better.
Some people might find it easy to breeze through college but if you feel like you need a little direction in how you handle your workload, then the tips above can help.