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FROSH 2021: Seven tips to get organized

By Aressana Challand, September 6 2021—

As we head into our first hybrid semester, syllabus week will be our only chance before reading week to get acquainted with our classes and start on the right foot. These seven tips will help you make the most out of your schedule.

  1. Read over your syllabus

The first week of university puts a focus on your syllabus for a reason. The answers to your project guidelines and due dates will be in your syllabus, alongside the main themes of the class. This will help you focus your notes throughout the semester. When exams come, treat your syllabus as a guide to help you study. 

  1. Create a master syllabus

After reading the syllabuses for each class, prioritize which class requires more of your attention and studying time. Create a master syllabus with all of your classes’ due dates in one document. When you put your semester’s worth of work together, you will be able to visualize the weeks you need to set aside more time. 

  1. Get an agenda as a to-do list 

Now that you have your master syllabus, you can write your dates and outside commitments in an online or paperback agenda. Doing so will help you organize time for your academic and personal life. Prioritize the hardest and most time-consuming tasks first. If the agenda life is not for you, consider putting reminders in your phone before your due dates. You can even ask Siri to put the reminders in for you — easy. 

  1. How to write effective notes 

Most of us returning to school will be taking online and in-person classes. You may not even take many notes online if your professor provides powerpoints, but the time you save watching lectures at double speed — we are all guilty of it — can result in missing key details or typing overly detailed notes. 

Think about what’s best for you. Keeping your notes up to speed with your professor is a necessity of in-person classes, but most of us are used to writing and remembering information with written notes. If your online class is asynchronous, you can watch the lecture at your speed — pausing to take written notes if that works for you. Online note-taking also has the life-saving search text function. You can use it to write your own summaries, or highlight portions of text to study. Whatever note-taking method you choose, try and keep it consistent. You will only confuse yourself otherwise and the time saved is extra time slept. 

  1. Stay ahead on your readings 

If your class is reading-focused, you probably have the time during syllabus week to do the next week’s readings. That way, you will have a basic understanding of the material for next week’s lectures. Plus, if you ever fall behind, you will have a week’s worth of readings to fall back on. 

  1. Schedule time to study early 

The age-old nag of studying early grates on any student’s ears, but it is even more important with in-person classes. No, you cannot rely on open book exams anymore. So yes, you should consider studying earlier than the night before the exam. If you study for a 20-30 minute period every couple of days, starting a few weeks before an exam, you might just avoid the passionate levels of procrastination and attempts to convince you to pull an all-nighter. 

  1. Check your email regularly 

If professors or teacher assistants remove part of an assignment, you will probably want to know that before you get started on it. They will communicate with you primarily through email for online classes. Avoid looking in multiple places for information and update your D2L notification settings to send you emails when documents are added and news updates are posted to your shell. 

Do not base your worth on your to-do list — unexpected things will come up in life that may force you to set your agendas aside. Figuring out how to stay organized makes life easier so that your agenda has room for yourself, your passions, family and friends.


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