Monday, April 7, 2014

Colleversity Tips: Make An Organized Planner ASAP

The end of Spring Break is approaching and that means it's time to return to school soon.  For those of you in college or university, it may be the start of a new quarter.  This fresh start means you have a new opportunity to succeed.

Something that I found extremely helpful in all my years of college and university is to organize a planner ahead of time.  From my experience, I have discovered that there are three parts to making a successful planner.

The first part of making a successful planner is to write down all your classes for that quarter on each day you have that class.  Do this before the quarter begins.  For the first week or so in your planner, include the times and class room numbers as an aid for getting the times and locations of your classes ingrained into your mind.  
For example, if you have three classes: Math, Science, and Writing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and labs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then write "Math: (Time, Location)" followed by the rest of your classes in chronological order for each day.  Repeat this for your lab sections and any other important topics.

The next part to making a successful planner can be fulfilled once your teachers have provided their syllabus.  The class syllabus is very important - it is the key to success.  Once you have your syllabus, immediately write down each assignment start and end date, each project due date, and each exam location and time.  Don't delay doing this!  By writing out your schedule early in the quarter you will have a clearer visual plan of how to have a successful quarter.  You will gain a head start over students who aren't as organized as long as you constantly look ahead and refer to your planner.  Be sure to update your planner daily as necessary.

The last part of making a successful planner is to include any and all other important dates and notes.  Whether it's someone's birthday, a meeting, a concert you want to attend, or a reminder to purchase something or ask someone a question, put it in your planner!  Put every important note and detail you encounter  (or have plans to accomplish) in your planner.  Fit it on the sides, use different colored pens, use sticky notes; just do whatever you need to do in order to be successful.

You can follow this guideline or you can modify it to fit your personal taste.  Whatever you do, just make a planner.  Here are examples of the format I found helpful over my college/university years:

I don't recommend spending money on expensive planners; cheap ones suffice and free ones are even better. A personal story: My old college (Skagit Valley College) always gave away free planners, no matter what year you were in.  My university (University of Washington) only gives planners to freshmen and transfer students.  So after completing my year junior year (my transfer year), I reverted back to using SVC planners.  Oh, the nostalgia!

Some people prefer digital planners over physical ones.  I prefer physical ones because it's easier to modify (such as drawing arrows from one date to another) and it's neat looking back at my planner at the end of a successful school year.  You can hang onto your planner as if it were a long lost diary and look at it in your future years.  You'll revisit old memories; you'll be amazed at how your college/university life was, all the events you went to, and every other nuance you probably forgot about.  Not only are planners extremely useful for doing well in school, they are also an excellent way of documenting portions of your college/university life. 


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