Five Organizational Tips to Avoid a Slacker Semester

By Jenna Caldwell | Web Editor

After an enjoyable and memorable summer, the start of a new school semester may be the last thing you want to think about. You were just spending the bulk of your days catching rays or zzz’s and now you’ll be spending the majority of your days (and nights) studying. 

I know it can be a tough transition to make, but it’s time to switch out of vacation mode: pronto. If you want to make this semester the best one ever, we both know that now is the time to start preparing. What you do the first week of classes has a bigger influence on your final grade more than you think. Here are some things I’ve learned and implemented to ensure that my semesters at Coastal are always smooth sailing. 

In college, there’s no one looking over your shoulder or holding your hand to make sure you get off on the right foot. It’s all up to you – and your feet. So first thing’s first: get your a** to class. In a class that meets 35 times in a semester, each lecture has about 3 percent of the content. Skip your classes the first week, and you’re already 8 percent behind. 

Next, scrutinize the syllabus. Figure out right away what counts and what doesn’t. Start figuring out the plot of the course; how it’s structured and the basic point of it. In some courses, the syllabus contains important clues about what will be on the tests, buried in the statement of the course’s goals and objectives. Be alert to these tip-offs about what the professor thinks is most important. 

Third, utilize the daylights out of Google Calendar. Scheduling life can be difficult. For this reason, I have a calendar on my desk, two planners in my book bag, Reminders on my iPad, and my favorite app of all, Google Calendar. During the school year I put my class schedule in there, color coded of course, as well as my work schedule, any volunteer projects or internships I’m working on, my Crow’s Nest meetings and deadlines, mine and my son’s doctors’ appointments…. and so much more. 

This app provides me with a visual of free time and responsibilities, but in a neater, clearer way than my handwritten planners. I also like Google Calendar because sadly sometimes, I just need something built in that automatically reminds me I have something to do. 

Fourth, create an assignment planner. I recently started practicing a lot of new organizational techniques that I hadn’t done in my past years. I found this awesome assignment planner and it has saved my life when it comes to making sure that I’m on top of all my work. I sort the content by month, due date, course, assignment, and points possible. When an assignment is coming up, I highlight it, to let myself know that this is something I need to be working on. Once I finish an assignment, I strike through it. 

Last but not least, turn procrastination into productivity. From cleaning out my refrigerator (in the mindset that new, fresh, delicious food will soon appear) to letting reality TV shows consume way too much of my time, I will gladly do anything besides what I’m supposed to do. Some things I do to turn my procrastination into productive procrastination: write my to-do-list out, go for a run, organize my planner, do laundry, do homework for another class, run errands, pre-make dinner, or re-write or type up class notes. It might not be exactly what you need to do, but if nothing else, it’s a step in the right direction. 

Though I am sad to leave behind summer nights and loads of free time, I am excited for this semester of creating and managing a new schedule. Whether you’re a baby-faced freshman or a 5th year senior, I hope you can use my tips to make this fall ’15 semester the best and most organized one yet.