Back to School: Plan Your Semester

BOOM! IT’S LEGIT LIKE TWO WEEKS BEFORE UNI ACTUALLY STARTS!….Well, at my uni anyways, not too sure if that varies a whole lot between different universities…ANYWAYS.  This is how you will save your own bacon in uni, because somewhere in this week before uni starts you will (or I definitely will) be going like this:

I relate to Gimli on a very personal level because he understands my short people problems.  ANYWHO. ONWARD.  Time management is an excellent skill to have in university–in life really.  Time management is the difference between having time to relax and pulling all nighters. So this is how I generally plan my uni life at the beginning of each semester.

Step 1: GET A DESK CALENDAR. These are so helpful for me.  You can also get like a personal planner or agenda, but I personally like getting Desk calendars because they’re big and colourful so I can’t possibly lose it.  You could also get dry erase calendars that stick to your wall as well.

Step 2: WRITE DOWN ALL IMPORTANT DATES.  Your uni should have a place SOMEWHERE on their webpage that tells you about all the important dates throughout the school year. (ie/ Student orientation days at the beginning of the year, payment deadlines for rez fees and tuiton, registration deadlines for classes [AKA after this date you can’t swap out classes you hate for classes you may potentially like], withdrawal deadlines [if you’re going to flunk a class, you better withdraw from it before the deadline so that it doesn’t affect your GPA], when classes begin, when classes end, and most importantly, when there’s NO SCHOOL).

Step 3: WRITE DOWN ALL ASSIGNMENT DEADLINES/MIDTERM DATES.  The great thing about uni is that when classes start, you get a schedule of when all of your midterms or quizzes will be around.  THIS INFORMATION SHALL BE IN YOUR SYLLABUS FOR EVERY CLASS.  Never ignore syllabuses–you hold onto all of them like they’re your life line.

Gives you good deadline info AND suggestions on how to survive the class.

Gives you good deadline info AND suggestions on how to survive the class.

Sorry if you can’t read that.  Just click on it to make it bigger.  Anyways, this is a syllabus from one of my classes last year.  WRITE ALL OF THOSE DATES DOWN FOR ALL OF YOUR CLASSES.  Usually my profs are freakishly good for following these schedules.  Trust me, do this because half way through September I forget about all the deadlines and then BOOM I see them on my calendar and I’m like “WELL SHIT.” but I’m also glad I wrote them down, because profs usually mention important things like Midterms the class before the midterm because THEY EXPECT THAT YOU’VE READ THE SYLLABUS.

The great thing about Chem is that there is no assignments…but that’s because you’re busy trying to finish your weekly lab reports.  You could look at lab reports like assignments, but I choose not to just to make myself happy that I “don’t” have assignments.  Other classes will definitely have assignment/essay/presentation deadlines posted in a similar format to the above shown schedule.

Step 4: WEEKLY PLANNING.  Now that you have all the mega things planned out, you can look at your weekly schedule.  I don’t extensively plan my weeks, typically I just do (sub)step three (talked about below) every Saturday or Sunday.

First step: Put in stuff that you will die without.  Like meals and sleeping.

Second: Stuff you cannot move around like sports practice. (If you want to have a detailed weekly plan, you could also put in classes).

Third: You should set aside time to do homework.  I find if I do a very LOOSE plan of what should be done on each day, life is way less stressful.  By LOOSE I mean I write this on(one of) my white boards:

Monday – O Chem Lab write up, EdPsy essay 1 page, I Chem outline.  

Tuesday-EdPsy 1..1.5 pages, work on EDFX presentation w/ partner, O chem outline…etc.

 You get the idea.  In first year I tried not to have more than 3 things to do each day, and it worked out well.  Second year was entirely different because I had like 5-6 things to do each day in addition to classes, and plus I procrastinated more in second year.  Anyways, I don’t put “2:30 pm–do this” because I have found that that is a fantastic way for me to procrastinate.  Mostly because I’ll get back to my dorm from a class and it’ll be 2:30 and I’ll be like “…5 minutes on pinterest won’t hurt…” BUT IT DOES HURT.  IT HURTS IN TERMS OF ME NOT GETTING SLEEP (mostly because 5 minutes turns into 2 hours). I found out last year that if I give myself a strict schedule, my mind will rebel against it.  All I need is a “AT SOME POINT TODAY, GET THIS DONE.”  However, if you personally need a set time to start doing something, you do that because that is what will benefit YOU the most.

Step 5: HALLELUJAH, I HAVE TIME TO _________.  Insert whatever you want there, be it “sleep more”, “socialize”, “go on the internet” or “shop”.  In what is left of your schedule you can put in stuff like that.  Or if you’re like me you can just leave the remaining slots blank and do whatever your heart desires at that particular time.

That’s pretty much it for scheduling.  I found a website that gives additional tips for time management (and also studying) right hereYou’re welcome.

Always remember that throughout the school year you should always check your email because profs might cancel classes or tell you other VERY important stuff via email.

Just a quick little note: This is stuff that is really helpful to me in uni.

  • Desk Calendar/some sort of planner
  • ear plugs (like I’ve said in previous posts, AT SOME POINT IN THE PORTION OF YOUR LIFE YOU SPEND IN DORMS, YOU WILL HEAR SEX NOISES.  Also useful if your roommate snores, or if your next door neighbors talk really loudly and you just want to study)
  • White boards (weekly schedules, figuring out problems, writing out essay outlines)
  • If your uni has a weird way of showing your class schedule or you don’t like the colours they use,  you can use this website. Also, you can use it to plan your weeks neatly if you don’t want to use the white board.
  • Post it notes (I used these just for colourful reminders that stuff is due.  Also, sometimes your desk calendar might get covered up, so this is also why post its are good)
  • Flags (You can use these to mark important pages, but I don’t I just use them to mark the end of quiz/midterm material)
  • Colourful markers (I’ve probably sworn by these since I’ve started this blog.  I use markers to write important words.  I don’t really use highlighters)
  • Scissors.  Seriously.  You don’t think you’ll need them, but when you DO need them, YOU REALLY REALLY NEED THEM.
  • Ruler, paper clips/binder clips, stapler.
  • Digital camera (other than the obvious use, this is most important for art students to take pictures of still life set ups so that you don’t have to re-set them up if you work on the project later).  You can do this with your cellphone, but there will be times that you will want to print it out bigger so that its easier to see and plus so you don’t have to keep waking your phone up.
  • Laptop. Duh.
  • TAKE PICTURES OF YOUR SCHEDULE WITH ALL THE SPECIFIC TIMES AND LOCATIONS WITH YOUR CELL PHONE.  This will help you get around to your classes at the beginning of the year.
  • You don’t need an alarm clock.  Just use your cell phone to wake you up, or alert you when its time to go to class (I try to arrive at class 10 minutes before it starts).
  • A printer is extremely important.  I also wish that I had bought a printer that could scan stuff with because I always need to scan IR spectras to send to my partner so that they have  a copy to hand into the prof as well.  I would also say for people who are either Art majors or minors, having a colour printer is a good idea.  I cannot even begin to count all of the stuff (ref photos, pictures of a certain artist’s work to help get in the style of that artist) I have had to print off for studio art classes.
  • USB stick mine is ~ 4GB and that is plenty of space (I’ve had it for 2 years and its still going strong!  It has a LOT of stuff on it too)
  • an open mind to new experiences and different ways of thinking.

Of course these are just special things out of all the regular supply lists that people post that I think are super helpful.  If you’re wondering about packing lists, I mentioned them in The Move Out Groove.

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