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With a new semester quickly approaching, my favorite time of the school year has once again rolled around with it: what I like to call Prep Day. The day before classes, or on the first day of class, is my favorite.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I absolutely love organizing. A new semester, with all new classes and assignments is the perfect opportunity to do just that!
I have a routine that I like to follow, so I’ve decided to break it down for you to give you the perfect guide on how to prep for a new semester of classes.
Without the Syllabus
Sometimes professors don’t hand out the syllabus until the first day of classes and, if you’re like me and you want to prep beforehand, that becomes rather annoying. Here’s what you can do without it!
I am an avid user of my Day Planner as well as Google Calendar for, well, everything. (Update: I recently started using a new planner called the Get to Work Book planner and I love it!) I enjoy to take the time before a new semester or new school year to copy down the dates that I know into those places.
When is your spring break? Do you have Memorial Day off? Is campus closed the day of Martin Luther King Jr. Day? When is your roommate’s birthdays? Take this time to put all those in!
There have been a countless amount of times when I am trying to coordinate something with somebody from a different school and I have to wait for them to look up if they have that holiday off or if their Spring Break corresponds with mine, here it’s all in one place and I’ll have it on demand!
Choose Your Planner
Not sure where to get started on the search for the best planner? Check out my guide to choosing the perfect planner here, and see some recommendations below:
Do you still have a notebook full of notes from your last history class laying around? Time to stash it or trash it!
Gather everything that you used in the previous semester, it’s time to decide if it’s worth keeping for future use or time to throw it out. I am the most guilty of forgetting this step and letting everything pile up on top of each other!
My favorite part! Now that you tossed out that history notebook, don’t you need a new one for your math class? Take a shopping trip to your favorite office supply store and stock up on all the things you’ll need for this semester. (Don’t forget the post-it notes!)
Pro Tip: Want to update one of your notebooks or planners? Try creating your own custom cover!
Now that you’ve stashed, trashed, and shopped the next step will be much easier.
Find a home for everything!
I’m very particular about the way that I organize my desk drawers and the top of my desk, so here’s the time to find a system that works for you.
How I organize my desk: Essentials on top, commonly used in the first drawer, notebooks not currently in use under that, and then the last drawer is for storage and graded papers that my professors have passed back.
As you can see in the picture on the left, I use cheap clear plastic organizers from the $1 store or $1 section in stores like Target to organize the small items that often get thrown around in “junk” drawers: washi tape, ribbons, post-it notes, flash drives.
With the Syllabus
Finally got the syllabus? Great! Time for phase 2.
Now that you’ve gotten all the important dates for your classes listed on your syllabus, put those to use. Last semester I tried something new, making an assignment schedule, and I have to say it worked fabulously! Create your own assignment planner to ensure that you’ll never miss a deadline.
I never missed any due dates, I was often the one to remind a classmate that we had a paper due the next day that our professor forgot to tell us about, and it definitely saved my grade.
I’m really excited about being able to make another one for the new semester!
Is that weird? Check out my tutorial of how to make and use one here.
Whoops. I am always guilty of waiting to order my textbooks until the last second. While some students prefer to get on ordering them as soon as they register for classes, I prefer to wait until I have read the syllabus or corresponded with the professor before spending any money.
A lot of the times the book that the school will tell you that you need for the course will not be accurate, or the professor may personally decide not to use that book for their course. Either way, if you have no ordered your textbooks yet, now is the time!
Pro Tip: Do not buy from your University’s bookstore! Always, always, rent from another site. This will save you mega money that you can save for your future. If you’re at a loss for ideas, my favorite place to look for the best textbook prices is BigWords. They instantly compare tons of different bookstores so you save the most that you can!
Now that you’ve organized the important dates all in one spreadsheet, it is incredibly helpful to have them in more than one place.
Copy these dates into your day planner and your calendar (again, I use Google Calendar). Trust me, it will come in handy when you’re planning an early morning doctor’s appointment to know if you have a paper due the night before that you might be up late working on.
This also comes as a great backup version of the assignment schedule, but on the go!
Whether I’m preparing for a new class, or an entire new semester of classes, that’s what I do to get ready to go.
But Wait, There’s More!
In fact, there is so much that I want to share with you to help you prepare for new classes that I’ve created a free 5 day e-mail course to help you out. That’s right, 5 days worth of tips (like this post but SO much better!) for free right in your inbox.
Everything that you need to start off your college years right, in 5 simple days. Check it out:
What do you do to get ready to start new classes? Tell me below!