As most schools are starting up again, I’ve written up a list of ways to get organized for university! Hopefully these will be helpful! These aren’t study or essay-writing tips, as I’m planning on writing posts about those later; these are just general guidelines and advice you can use (or not, how am I to know?).
Make your phone your go-to resource:
- Emails from your university account on your phone are convenient, especially if you have professors who communicate about assignments via email often.
- Safety apps might not be extensive yet, but some schools have developed ones with features like safe walk, emergency numbers, campus bus schedules, and other resources.
- Evernote or Google Docs are excellent, easy to use, and can be accessed from your phone, laptop, or a library computer.
- Calendar apps are great resources for events, assignment due dates, and exams — especially if you don’t have a paper planner.
- Reminders apps are useful for making to-do lists — again, good if you want to use less paper.
- Tapingo is an app used by some universities for on-campus food — order in advance and pick it up without waiting in line, which is great if you have a crammed schedule.
- Blackboard, the site many universities use for professors to post documents and other information, and for students to turn in assignments, is a nice thing to have on your phone.
- Spotify, Pandora, or other music apps are awesome — but you knew that already.
- Purdue OWL, EasyBib, and other study resources can be bookmarked on your internet search app for easy access.
Keep your syllabi handy. I cannot begin to tell you how many times professors reference these, seriously. They list the professor’s contact information, reading assignments, due dates, exam dates, required textbooks, and more. So hang on to your copy!
Invest in notebooks. If you prefer taking notes by hand, get some of these. I like the ones with multiple sections and pockets to divide them, so I can have one notebook for multiple classes. I usually had one for Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes, and another for my Tuesday-Thursday classes.
Make a master binder of folder. In it, put general stuff, like a map of campus, syllabi, important phone numbers, etc. You don’t necessarily have to keep it in your backpack, but know where it is. Better safe than sorry to keep these!
Use a laptop. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, but you will do so much on it: write essays, do research, watch lots and lots of Netflix. Trust me, having your own personal laptop, if your budget allows, is a great privilege. If you can’t afford one, make sure your documents are saved in more than once place! Save documents on Google Docs or Evernote (see above), or on a flash drive. And if you borrow laptops (many universities have laptops or computers to access for no additional charge at the library) sign out of everything before leaving.
Prep your planner. At the beginning of the semester, write or program your schedule, add assignment due dates, etc. in your planner or calendar. Having that visual, whether on paper or on a screen, can be quite helpful. If you worry about forgetting things, setting alarms along with your e-calendar can be very helpful.
Take advantage of these:
- Printing. If your uni offers free printing, USE IT! Some professors will want paper copies. Even if that’s not the case, I’d bet money you’ll need to print something at some point. So take advantage of the offerings of your university (you’re giving them enough money already, after all!).
- Student discounts. In college towns, businesses around will often offer discounts when shown a valid student ID. So explore off-campus businesses, ask other students for where the best deals are, and save some cash!
- Professors’ office hours. Even for classes that weren’t in your major/minor, going to office hours to discuss a major assignment never hurts. It shows you care, and a professor appreciating your efforts isn’t a bad thing. Don’t worry about being seen as a teacher’s pet; tons of students go talk to professors in college. It’s way more common here than high school.
- Extracurricular activities. University can be intense and stressful. But even when you feel overwhelmed and too busy for anything, take a breath. Especially on campus, but also just in college towns, there are plenty of things to do: watching tv or films, going to the gym or restaurants or museums, going shopping, spending time with friends, skyping with out of town friends, etc. Mental health breaks are important, at least as much so as your actual work. So take care of yourself!
Hope this helps, especially new students! Good luck to you all!
If I missed anything, leave a comment with your own piece of college advice!