It’s common to hear people say that college is a difficult shift from high school because you’ll have more work assigned than you could imagine. I’m not going to sugar coat this – college is hard work. That isn’t to say that it’s impossible to manage, though. Being overwhelmed with school work has been challenging at times but it’s taught me a great deal about the importance of organization.
A few years ago, when I was applying for colleges, I had a lot to keep track of on top of school work. There were application deadlines, forms that needed to be handed in to the administrative offices, college visits to look into, and much more. I considered myself to be an organized person in high school, but at the same time, I knew that I needed to find ways to better prioritize the tasks I needed to complete. Therefore, I’m going to share some tips that I have found helpful to stay organized at the start of and throughout my college career. Feel free to try some of these out and tweak them to work best for you!
Tip #1: Write or type everything out.
This may seem like an obvious one, but in the chaos that is maintaining a social life, a good GPA, and whatever else life throws your way, you will be confronted with important and relevant information all the time, even when you aren’t in class taking notes. For some people, typing on a computer helps them remember details and is the best mode for keeping track of their day. I prefer to physically write everything out – and when I say “everything” I mean everything. Last summer, I created my own calendar notebook/bullet journal, whatever you want to call it. Each day I write out the homework assigned that is due later in the week. To the side, I have a “notes/to do” box that I typically use to stay organized in my world outside of classes from meetings that I have scheduled, my work schedule, and items I need to print, to simple day-to-day tasks such as laundry or walking my dog. This might seem a little silly… who needs to be reminded to do their own laundry? Well, here’s your answer: a busy student. In my experience, balancing coursework, work for clubs I’m a part of, my part-time job off campus, my part-time job on campus, my social life, and my hobbies is crazy sometimes. I’ve found that writing my day out and being able to see future plans for the rest of my week has really helped me stay organized and on top of my life. If you’re going on college visits or are having a hard time organizing all the positives and negatives of schools you’re applying to, try writing the details out to better organize all of the information!
Nazareth College has many places that can be used to take time to debrief from your day and write out what’s important and needs to be done. One of my favorites is Cafe Sorelle, in the basement of the Golisano Academic Center (GAC), which is extremely convenient for me since a lot of my classes happen to be in this building. Between classes, I usually sit here and go through my notebook in order to make sure I have everything written down for the day that I need. I finish writing down any information that was given to me in my previous classes and check off any tasks I have already completed. After classes, I can grab a cup of coffee and maybe something to eat and write down the work that was assigned and any other information that would fit best in my calendar, rather than jumbled within my notes.
Tip #2: Make a (prioritized) to-do list.
My to-do list is my life. I’m the type of person that feels relief when crossing out or checking off a completed task, however, this is one of my organization skills that has proved to be flawed at times. A to-do list is useful in keeping track of what needs to get done within a day, but it can potentially have a negative impact on prioritization. Throughout my college career, I’ve realized that it is exceptionally stressful to try to get everything done within one day like I would prefer. It’s important to prioritize your to-do list so that you can differentiate between what needs to get done and what you’d prefer to get done. Trying to get everything done on my to-do list has led to some pretty late nights and early mornings so while I still use my to-do list every day, I have learned that there are certain items that need to get done and others that can simply wait until the next day.
For now, if you see a deadline for applying to a college or submitting a form that a college needs, put it on your to-do list. This way you can keep track of every important item and get some satisfaction from completing the task by crossing it off your list. This skill will become useful when you enter college. On the first day of classes at Naz, most professors distribute a copy of their class syllabus. My favorite ones to get are those that actually have corresponding layouts of all the projects, papers, presentations, quizzes, and exams that will take place. I add the items to my to-do list for the designated day so, if I look to an upcoming week, I’ll be reminded of a quiz or project and it won’t come as a surprise. This is why I suggest making full use of the information/due dates/events that are provided to you and adding them to your to-do list whenever you feel a reminder will be useful!
College can become overwhelming at times but there are numerous ways to reduce the stress that can come along with balancing coursework and life outside of classes. Making time for hobbies, a social life, and good mental health is essential for college. Sometimes you need an extra reminder to take care of yourself or complete simple tasks and that’s okay. In fact, that’s how I’ve survived college thus far. No matter what organization methods you go with, it’s crucial to find ways that help make it a little easier to get through your day.