15 Organizational Tips for College Students

By: Erica Statly


College is a whole new ball game in terms of…well, just about everything. You go from teachers managing your assignments, your mom washing your clothes and your dad grilling your chicken to fending for yourself. In order to stay on top of all of the responsibilities accompanied by college, it is crucial you remain organized. Try these 15 tips to help you this here:

  1. Get a planner. I put this first because it is the most common bit of advice. Go purchase a cute planner (I found mine at Target for $15), some cute pens, and fill it in! Color coding often works well for people. For example, I use blue for school, pink for social events, red for school assignments, orange for my work schedule and green for my workouts.
  2. ROY G BIV. The human body is able to remember colors easily, especially if you are a visual learner. Try color coding your notebooks/folders/binders if you haven’t made the switch to digital yet. And if the price of school supplies is concerning you, here is the cheapest place to buy. 
  3. Computer Folders. Create a folder in your computer labeled “School.” Within that, put a folder for each subject (i.e. “COM 101”). Within the class folders make folders labeled “Assignments” “Exams” “Projects” “Final” and organize everything you get in that class into those digital folders.
  4. Prioritize the syllabus. If you haven’t heard yet, reading the syllabus is the key to passing a class. Highlight due dates, assignment dates and “fine print” statements (such as “2 unexcused absences will result in automatic failure of course”).
  5. To-do lists. Keep a pad of paper on hand, or jot it down on your phone either first thing in the morning or the night before: what do you need to get done today? After that, prioritize your tasks for maximum efficiency.
  6. Prep the night before. Lay out your outfit, pack up your backpack, fill out your to-do list for tomorrow, meal prep, etc…you will wake up the next morning 10x more relaxed and ready to conquer the day ahead!
  7. Create a chore schedule. Without Mom there, constantly reminding you to clean your room, it’s easy to push chores aside. But let’s be honest: nobody enjoys living in a mess. Maybe you want to spread out your chores so you do two a day. Or maybe you would rather knock out all your chores on Thursday nights.
  8. Take smart notes. It’s no secret that you do not need to know everything your professor says. It’s pretty easy to spot when he/she will introduce a new idea. That would be considered a “heading.” Jot down anything you can underneath that heading and go back to it later and reorganize all of it.
  9. Make your bed. It is a proven fact that you will be more productive and organized if you make your bed every morning!
  10. Stay on top of your inbox. If you’re like me, you have the Gmail app. I used to have “566” or some other ungodly number next to that app. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary stress – just clear the crap out.
  11. Back everything up. It’s almost a guarantee that at some point during your educational career your computer will crash. So save yourself some sleep, time and worry and purchase a flash drive ($15 or less at Meijer) and save all of your important documents onto that.
  12. Keep your portfolio in mind. During your college career, you are constantly building up your experience which will translate onto your “resume.” If a teacher applauds you on a certain project, ask her if you can keep it or make a copy of it. Include it in a professional portfolio to show to future employers.
  13. Establish a “grocery essentials” list. Most college kids hate grocery shopping. (I actually don’t mind it). To make this a bit less of an inconvenience, come up with a grocery list of staples you always need when you go. Things such as milk, fruit, bread and chips will probably make the list.
  14. Utilize the “Reminders” app or download one similar. Schedule reminders throughout your day – either to grab your project off your desk, pack your snack for between classes or just an encouraging message to keep you going will be so helpful.
  15. Make a budget. It is both a widely known and accepted fact that college students are broke. Sometimes we question whether or not we’ll be homeless next month. Budget your paychecks! A portion should go towards savings, gas, groceries, tuition, books, food, insurance, etc. Write out a list of everything you need to pay for, and then divvy up your paycheck to make it work with your lifestyle.

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