Setting Yourself Up for a Successful Semester | Arts and Science ONLINE

Setting Yourself Up for a Successful Semester

Laptop, coffee and plant

Happy first week of classes! With the start of each new semester, here are a few tools that I always use to get myself organized and ready to jump right into my new courses. 

 1. Assignment Calendar

On the first morning of each new semester, the first thing I always do is read through the syllabus and assignment timeline for each of my courses and put the important dates into an assignment calendar.  This could be created as a spreadsheet or written directly on a large monthly calendar, for example.  Personally, I create a spreadsheet and keep a printed copy of it in the front of my working binder (see point #4).  This is a lifesaver for seeing at a glance what work I have to complete for the upcoming weeks and for keeping on top of my assignments each week.

2. List of Textbook Readings

If a course has required textbook readings, it is extremely helpful to create a list or a chart of the readings for each week.  I will often print off two copies of this list, putting one with the textbook itself and one in my working binder.

3. Planner

Another essential for planning and actually accomplishing my work each week is a planner.  Using a weekly planner with room to write out daily task lists for each day of the week is extremely beneficial for spacing out the content and assignments for each course throughout the week.  In addition to classes and assignment deadlines, writing in your other commitments (such as work schedules, extracurriculars, and social events) helps you see how much time you have to accomplish your coursework and to create daily task lists that you can realistically accomplish. 

As there are many different types and styles of planners (such as paper academic planners, custom-created bullet journal pages, digital planners or the online google calendar) and since different types and styles work better for different people, experimenting with different planner styles can help you find something that works well for you and your situation. 

4. Working Binder

Recently, I have found it really helpful to have a single working binder that contains all of the important papers and notes from the current module of each of my courses.  At the very front, I have my assignment calendar and other general sheets for quick, easy reference.  Next, I use tab dividers to create one section for each course, where I keep the course syllabus, other important course papers, and my notes or the module companion guide for the current module.  While I use separate binders to store all of the notes or module companion guides from each course, having all of the current sheets for each of my courses in one binder means that I only need to carry and work out of one binder and yet still have all of the papers that I need on a daily basis.

Overall, the assignment calendar, the list of textbook readings, the weekly planner, and the working binder are four tools that I have learned to utilize in order to get organized and stay on top of my work throughout each semester, and I hope that these tools will be helpful for you as well!

Author: Alissa Barbour

Photo by Ann Nekr from Pexels.