This is a subjective list of what I think is important or even essential to college life. You may have some different thoughts, and that’s okay! Maybe you’ll find one or two items from this list that you hadn’t thought of before. Just remember, everyone is different and what works for one person may not for another — that’s okay! A common theme for all college students, though, should be organization. I know there are various methods for achieving this, but here’s what works for me.
- Binder & Color-Coded Dividers: This is so important for keeping all your important papers (and trust me, you’ll get plenty) organized and easy to find! I like a binder with a clear sleeve on the front so I can put my schedule in it for quick reference, a campus map, and anything else I might need to have ease of access to. Inside the binder, I have tabbed dividers in five distinct colors for each class — all of my psychology-related work is in the red tab, my history documents are in the blue tab, etc. This way, I never have an issue finding information when I need to, and it’s really helpful when I’m studying for a quiz or test to have everything in the same place. Saving time is valuable for a college student!
- Folder for Homework: While my binder is great, I reserve it for the syllabuses, notes, in-class activities and discussions, and any hand-outs or readings. All of my homework, from essays to math problems, goes in a separate folder reserved only for it. Then when my professor asks for the work due, it’s readily accessible and there’s no chance of me accidentally giving the wrong paper.
- Laptop: If you take notes on a laptop, you obviously have one! I prefer to take handwritten notes because it helps me engage and think more critically, but I still use my laptop plenty. Many instructors have information or homework only available on Blackboard, and it’s a lot easier to read an article or take a quiz on a laptop than a small phone screen. You’ll also want a laptop for writing papers, and Fontbonne offers Microsoft Office for free to all of its students. Can you do all of this in the computer lab in the library? Of course! But there’s going to be times where you’ll want to be in a cozier setting, like your dorm room or bedroom, and then that laptop will come in handy. Go ahead and spend a little more money on a good one if you can; it will pay off.
- Highlighters/Pens/Pencils: Yeah, it’s probably pretty obvious…but it’s worth reminding! Always have at least two pens, two pencils, an eraser, and a highlighter with you. You’ll have your bases covered for note-taking and emphasizing important ideas. There’ll be no chance of panic setting in when you’re taking a test and your pencil runs out. Also, even if you take notes on your computer, you’ll eventually need to write something down in class. Be prepared!
- Snacks & Water: You have plenty of options for purchasing food on campus, I’m not denying that. But if you’re ever in a rush to get to your next class and you don’t have time to grab lunch, you’ll probably be hungry before class ends! Find something with nutritional value, like a Macrobar (my favorite), that fits in your backpack and can be eaten quickly. And always have a bottle of water with you to drink in and between classes. Staying hydrated and fueled will keep your energy up so you can pay attention in class!
Procrastination. We all do it! It is everyone’s best friend yet an enemy at the same time. You never get things done, leave it to the last minute, and so on. Here are a few things you could do to step up your organizational game & avoid procrastination . 1. Use a planner of some kind; keep due dates of important events, assignments, tests/quizzes and large projects in that planner. It is scientifically proven that if you hand write something, you are more likely to remember it better. But what if a planner isn’t your thing? 2. In that case, most (if not all) digital calendars have several helpful features: A. Re-occurring events is one. If you know for a fact that you have a test in a class every Wednesday, have that calendar push a reminder every week so that you never forget about that important test. B. Another great feature is the frequency of the reminders. Here’s a real world example: I have Board Meetings that I need to constantly attend. So I have my phone remind me several times about it in this exact order: 2 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes, 15 minutes prior to the Board Meetings. This not only lets me know that I have a meeting coming up, but it also give me an idea of how much time I have left before I have to leave for the Board Meetings. C. To go even further – have the calendar remind you in advance (i.e. Due date is Dec. 5; remind me on Nov. 20th @ 8 AM). 3. And finally, one EXTREMELY helpful tip that I don’t know if everyone uses is: Let’s say you have a project or a 12 page paper due within a month or two. No one ever told you that you had to complete it in one sitting. Break it up! Divide the project or paper up into smaller sections so it doesn’t look so overwhelming. Completing smaller parts = less stress. Until next time guys, stay classy!
So you’ve finally made it. Whether you’ve just started your first semester of college living on campus or living in an apartment or a house by yourself, there are some things to consider as you take this academic year head-on.
1. Make a budget and follow it!
It’s easy to get carried away buying stuff online because you’re that excited about receiving packages or doing fun things or buying stuff from Target you don’t really need. Whether you are working and schooling full time or not working at all, planning a budget can help you manage your money while you live on or off campus! Using a budget app can help you look at your monthly expenses in many areas and help you save money in the long run.
2. Schedule time to sit down and do homework or study everyday.
I mean, let’s be honest, studying or doing homework isn’t that great. It’s easy to get caught up in extracurricular and social activities that leave you at the end of the week having accomplished little homework. But if you take the time to study every day for your classes or schedule time for homework, it will benefit you and help you achieve the best grades you can while managing your time wisely.
3. Do extracurricular activities!
Yeah, I know I just told you to schedule time to study and do homework and all, but doing extracurricular stuff is important too. Join clubs! Do sports! Work a job! Do whatever! Volunteer for stuff that will look good for a future career/graduate school applications later on. You’ll probably have more time to do this now rather than later.
4. Be yourself!
This is Lion King-esque I know, but it’s important. It’s easy to let yourself change your ideals to fit in with other people you first meet your freshman year. You don’t need to do that. I mean, people change and you might be still trying to find out who you are and that’s okay. But you don’t need to go to great lengths to do so! Looking back now, I don’t even talk to the people I met when I started my first semester of college. You’ll find your niche and really great friends can come out of this whole experience!!
I could go on and on with tips and stories I’ve acquired over the past few years, but that’s for another day. These may as well be the best dang years of your life, so make the most of it! Let’s have a great year everyone!! 🙂