How to use your student planner to organize your academic life

Make that deadline!

Papers cannot be written well the day before the deadline – that is, for most people that will result in a paper that gets at least one grade point lower grade than if they’d started well ahead of time. In college your teachers will not remind you of your homework every time you see them – and you also see them less often than in school. Still, those papers and tests do have to be done – and you want to do them well to get ahead.

This is why getting organized is so important. And it can’t hurt that being organized will help you later in life as well.

As anyone will tell you: to get organized you need a planner. In fact, you need a GOOD planner and you need to use it too, of course.

My requirements for a good planner

  • It’s dated. Don’t settle for a cute undated organizer. However pretty it may be, it will only force you to lose time filling in the dates. Or worse: make it so hard to use that you forget to use it. Organizers are great, but unfortunately there aren’t many on the market where the ‘introduction package’ is dated. So you will either have to pay the extra money for a calendar set for the year, or settle for an ordinary planner. (Don’t worry, there are enough cute planners out there).

  • It has room for notes

  • It has room for addresses

  • Personally – but this is no deal breaker – I prefer organizers: the loose leafed system (dated though) makes it a LOT easier to organize notes and keep information that lasts from year to year.

That’s it really – the real kicker comes in learning to use your student planner

Using your Academic Planner

Take your planner with you as much as possible

It’s very important to have your planner with you at all times. Certainly every time you go to class or a studymeeting or something of that sort. But take it with you when you go meet friends as well.

Fill in due dates for assignments directly

This is what your planner is for: so you can put any asignments into your planner the moment you hear them. This is the moment to do it, putting it off will just mean forgetting all about it.

Backward planning:

When you get home after a class where there was an assignment given, go back a two or three weeks to put in a reminder of the assignment and it’s due-date. That way when the time comes you won’t be surprised.

Put everything in your planner (including dates):

This is the learning to get organized part: you have to get into the habit of only making appointments with your calendar book in hand. Yes, that includes dates to the movies or dinner.

You have to get into the habit of seeing all the things you do on the same page, so you keep a mental image of what your responsibilities are. That will help you get started on that project in time. And again: having this habit will help you in your professional life as well.

One nighters and cramming at the last moment will be prevented if you follow up on this.

And all night studying – without preparation in advance – is a sure fire way of not learning all you might learn. Worse: some people are able to get decent grades this way, but they won’t remember as much. The amount of people able to get good grades by only studying the night before is REALLY small. It may be hard to remember in between parties and falling in love, but you are studying for the rest of your life, so take advantage of he opportunity and start on time.

Old pages, old agenda books: don’t throw them out!

It may sound corny, but I have every planner I’ve used in the past five years in a closet somewhere. My parents are even more conscientious: they save every one they ever had, going back to when they were still in college. This is a good habit: you may want to look up a phone number of a studypartner you had last year, or that professor that was so inspiring that you want to have as an adviser. And if you’re as diligent as my parents – your old planners may be a nice reminder of college life some day.

LET ME REPEAT: a planner is most useful when used regularly, when you’re in the habit of using it for every appointment you have.

These things should always be put into your planner

Summing up:

  • Homework time: time set aside for studying.

  • Due dates on assignments and papers

  • Test dates

  • Apointments, family gatherings, excursions, vacations

  • Parties, dates, dances and school holidays

  • SAT, ACT and other test dates

  • Sign-up deadlines for standardised tests

  • Due dates on fees, rent etc.

  • College application and visitation days: even as a freshman you should do this, to get used to the rythm of the college year. This will help you make sure you get used to how quickly these things come and go and help prevent you from missing one.

Do YOU use a planner to keep organised?

  • 86% Yes, of course I use a planner, could not do without it
  • 14% No, I don’t use a planner. I should though.

70 people have voted in this poll.

Posted on Categories Academic Planners