The new term can be daunting, and if you’re like me, organizing for a new term is the best way for me to feel prepared and ready to tackle the year. Over the last few years of my university career, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that can help you organize and thrive even in the darkest days of the Winter term.
1. Buy a new agenda
Everyone should do this, even if you don’t think that you will use it on a day-to-day basis. Having some sort of agenda where you keep all of the important dates for readings, assignments, and exams is the best way to stay organized throughout the year.
If you’re like me, and have a chronic need to organize everything in your life, colour coding your classes works wonders! Use a separate colour for each of your classes, and then choose colours for other aspects of your life (work, appointments, dates, etc.)!
However, this is all from years of trial and error. No organization system is universal. Do what works best for you!
2. Check out syllabuses
With classes now in full swing, all of our syllabuses are on eClass. I am quite familiar with the urge to ignore the syllabus and just move on with the course content, but making sure you know the syllabus is the best way to prepare for a course — and the best way to refrain from being the one student that gets called out by the professor for not knowing the midterm date.
That being said, don’t feel like you need to memorize everything. Here are some of the important parts of each syllabus I’d recommend getting familiar with: class descriptions, class outcomes (it helps you mainstream your studying), textbooks, grade breakdowns, assignments, and due dates. If a professor has added a class schedule, I would also recommend getting familiar with that as well.
3. Obtain textbooks
All of us wish we could save on textbooks, and although that’s not always the case, there are a few ways to mitigate the pain of buying textbooks. The most important piece of advice I can give is to try to wait until after the first class before buying your book.
Often, professors are able to give you tips on where you can find your textbooks. I have had some professors provide me with all our readings (even the mandatory texts) through eClass, and others have been able to give us discount codes to local bookstores.
Don’t forget to explore your textbook options. Sure, you can get the physical copy, but don’t forget about eBooks, which are generally much cheaper than the physical book. The university libraries are also a great resource for books. Science students take note — almost every professor makes sure that there is at least one copy of each book they assign available at the library. You can often only take the textbooks out for one hour at a time, but it’s definitely worth the time (and money) to check.
4. Schedule readings, assignments and important dates
Alright, now that we have our agenda, our syllabuses, and our textbooks, it’s time to get down to business. Schedule all of your assignments, midterms, finals, and important school dates (tuition deadline, withdrawal deadlines, etc.).
For those of you like me that struggle with keeping up with readings, here’s a trick for keeping track of your readings: mark where you need to read to by a certain date and then split the reading into how many pages you need to read each day to reach that goal. That way, you aren’t left with a huge amount of reading to do the night (or the hour) before class.
5. Make time for yourself
This is the most important thing — and the hardest thing — I have learned throughout university: make sure to schedule time for yourself. For me, I try to schedule Sunday away from any studying and schoolwork so that I can get a break. I use this time in order to catch up on chores, write, plan my week, or sometimes to just binge watch an entire true crime series on Netflix.
Sometimes during midterms and finals this isn’t always possible, but I always try and take a couple hours to recoup and rest a bit before the next week happens. There’s nothing worse than burnout, and even though you’re in university, you should make sure to put yourself and your health first.
And there you have it! Organizing the school year in five quick tips. I hope you are able to find something useful here for you and your time at university.
Cheers to the new term!