Right Tools for a New Semester

September 8, 2016

A new semester brings many challenges. However,  having the right tools can make your semester feel like a walk on the beach. Hopefully this week's post will show you exactly how to get to that beach.

When I say "tools", I don't mean school supplies. I mean the top five resources that should be your best friend throughout the semester. Google Calendar, a planner, Google Drive, a hiding spot, and a master syllabus are the most basic tools to keep college students like you and I sane and organized. Listen up.

 

1) Google Calendar

On college campus there are many things that one can do. Luckily, Google offers many helpful tools, such as Keep and Books, for students to stay organized. The most useful tool to help us stay organized is Google Calender. Google Calender helps me remember all of my appointments, class times and more and it can do the same for you. For example, many college students make the mistake of taking too many things on at once. However, having this calender let's you know what you can and cannot do. Google Calender is also great for making connections on campus because it can help you create group study sessions or even allow other people on campus to know when you are available.

 

2) Planner

As a student who survives solely on the power of organization, I know--first hand-- that the right planner can make or break you. It may seem redundant because a Google Calender is listed right above but a Google Calender is mainly for organizing your events and a planner is for organizing your homework.  I like having hard copy verison of all of my homework that way I can access it where ever I am or in the event that I don't have internet to check online. Moreover, having a planner gives me zero excuses for not doing homework when I am away from school. Basically meaning if I am riding the bus or doing something else that gives me spare time, instead of playing a game on my phone I can try and knock out some assignments. If that is not a good enough reason for you to get a planner there is also some scientific reasons as well. For example, it is a proven fact that writing something down increases the likelihood of you remembering it later on.
On the other hand, I understand that maybe a planner is not your thing. If that is the case then by all means try something else. One thing that I would recommend trying would be a thought journal or just a notebook where you could write down anything that is important. All that really matters is that you have a hard copy verison of all your tasks and assignment that can travel with you.
Like I said before, having the right planner can make or break you thus don't be afraid to be picky when choosing one. This planner is supposed to be your best friend for the entire year. I absolutely adore my planner. It has inspirational quotes for each month, space for writing extra notes, monthly and weekly calenders, and it is easy to travel with. Best of all, it's "tots adorbs".

 

3) Google Drive

I am sure that you have come to realize how much of Google fan I am. Did you know that if you type, "do a barrell roll" into the google search bar it actually does a barrell roll? If you didn't, then you're welcome. Where was I? Right, Google Drive.
As college students, we have accepted the fact that we are all broke. This means that can't buy the cool stuff that we want (like a guinea pig) or the important stuff that we need. Another helpful tool in college (and in life), is microsoft office. But the truth is, it is quite expensive. If you are lucky then you can split the cost with a friend and register both computers. If you are not so lucky then Google Drive is the best alternative.
Google Drive can do almost everything that powerpoint, excel, and word can do. The best part about it: it's free. What makes Google Drive even cooler? The simple fact that any file saved to Google Drive can not only be taken any where (with internet access) but also that those files can be shared with anyone who has a google account.
You are probably wondering what makes sharing and working on files so beneficial. Let me spell it out for you: G-R-O-U-P P-R-O-J-E-C-T-S. Google Drive allows multiple people to edit and view the same file at once which makes it ideal for group projects. This way you can do your group work from the comfort of your room rather than a random corner in the library.
We all know how hard group projects can be. Why not make it a little easier for yourself?

 

4) A Hiding Spot

As the semester progresses, it can get stressful and overwhelming. But having, a hiding spot on campus is the easiest and safest way for students like us to get peace and quiet. No, I am not talking about the library or your parent's basement. I mean a space on campus that is quiet and not frequently used for you to escape to when things become difficult. On my college campus, I have four hiding spots. This way if one is taken I don't have to go Liam Nelson status to get it back.
I use my hiding spots to relax and mentally prepare for the next group project. I am only joking.  But, in all honesty, I use my hiding spots to have alone time which is essential to the development of a successful college student. What do I do when I am alone? Whatever I want. I sing my heart out to Adele while I stuff my face with my favorite Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.

 

5) Master Syllabus

Out of everything on this list, having a master syllabus is the most imortant tool to help you become a successful college student. This is just basically a list or calender that contains all of the assignments from each of your classes. Thus far, I have only used two different formats for my master syllabus. Both of which can be created using Google Drive Excel. The first format is dedicated to students who enjoy the feeling of crossing something off their daily to-do list. You basically create three colomuns: one for the class, one for the assignment, and the due date. Using the Sort Tool you can rearrange the list so that it displays the assignments with the earliest due date first. The second list is for people who like to take things one day at a time. This typically is a bit more complicated because you have to do a grid that is the days in a week by the number of classes and then repeat this for each week in the semester. For example, I would create a 6x5 grid and place M-F at the top and then my four classes on the side. Then filling out the corresponding assignments. Although this format is confusing, it would be ideal for classes where the professor is continuously changing the syllabus.

The format you choose depends primarily on your personality and how you like things organized. Regardless of your decision, you need to have a master syllabus. A good student uses one to get ahead on assignments but a smart student uses one to know when to crunch and when to procrastinate.

I hope that this list helps you find the beach at the end of the semeser. If you have any tips that you want to share or questions you need to ask feel free to contact me. Otherwise, that's all I have to say about that.

Good Luck

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Elexia Johnson
Creatively  Driven

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