This post is about college hacks to prepare for the best semester yet.
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Each semester of college there were multiple things I would do before my college classes even started to make sure I was incredibly prepared and set up for success.
I obviously didn’t know about any college hacks when I was a freshman, but after a couple semesters I learned from my mistakes and got a lot more organized!
If you will be an incoming freshman this semester or going back to school and want to get organized and have better grades than last year, you are in the right place!
1. Buy or Rent Your Books Weeks in Advance
You could buy all your books from your college’s book store BUT I highly suggest renting them from literally anywhere else! This college hack will seriously save you hundreds of dollars!
As soon as you know what books you need, order them right away so you don’t have to stress about them arriving on time!
All you have to do is google the ISBN number for the book you need and bam! Tons of options. You could either order each book from the cheapest place you find it or keep it more simple them and order them all from the same place.
Look at this example of how much you could save by renting this ochem book vs. buying it!
2. Buy a Planner So Cute You Will Never Want to Let Go of It
A planner is the best way to write down all your exams, quizzes, and homework assignments all in one place. Find a cute one and take it to every class! That way, when your professor says, “Oh yeah, there will be a quiz next Thursday don’t forget!”. You literally won’t forget because you can whip out your planner and write down the new information immediately as he says it.
Some stuff like that isn’t online or in your syllabus, your professor just expects you to remember if he announces it at the end of class. So ensure that you don’t forget buy having a planner for the semester! Shop my faves below!
Shop my absolute faves below!
3. Print Out the Syllabus for Every Class
Out of all of the college hacks listed, this is the most important of the entire list! The syllabus you get for every class is complete gold when it comes to being organized and staying on top of your semester.
They have important info including but not limited to:
- Exam dates (so important!)
- Contact info for your professor
- Office hours
- Future essays/projects/assignments
- Whether the final will be cumulative or not
There is a sh*t ton of boring stuff in a syllabus and if you have had multiple professors who thinks it is necessary to read every single word on the first day of class, then I get it. You may hate them! But the other info I listed above is so important that you need to print them and keep them in a place you can easily refer back to throughout the semester!
Below is an example of the important info from an old syllabus of mine. *professor’s personal info blacked out
4. Create A Sheet With Professor Info
After printing out the syllabus for each class, there are two more important things you need to do. Each syllabus is probably a handful of pages you may have them in different notebooks or binders.
You need a page that has all the information for each professor’s office hours and contact info. Jot it down on one page and tuck it away in your planner (because you will always have this with you on campus or while studying).
This paper will be immensely helpful so you can easily look up office hours or an email you can reach your professor at within 5 minutes. Otherwise, you will have to sift through your binders, backpack, desk drawers to find the right syllabus with the info you are looking for. Or search your school’s website for 20 minutes looking for it!
Download the college hacks printable below to make it incredibly easy to organize this info!
5. Write Down Exam Dates
Second thing to do after printing each syllabus: go through and write down all your exam dates in your planner! Same idea as above, you don’t want to sift through your entire binder to find the right syllabus when you need to know when you next exam is.
Or even worse, forget about them because you never wrote it down! For exams, your professor will most likely remind you the class before. Quizzes though are the things that are easy to forget and you probably won’t get a reminder for them!
If your syllabus already has this info for you, plan ahead and write them all down before you even have your first day of class! You will seriously be ahead of the game by doing this!
6. Hang Your Schedule on Your Wall
Once your class schedule is finalized for the semester, write down your weekly schedule twice so you have two copies. Put the first one on the wall in your dorm room/apartment and the second in your planner.
When I was in college, it always took me a few weeks to remember the exact room numbers and times for all my classes. You could either write one down and make it color coded and cute, or just go to your school account and print the one they have.
College Student Pro Tip: add in scheduled study blocks for each day during your free time. This way, you can have your routine planned out ahead of time!
Download these freebies by subscribing below so you can post your college schedule on your wall and write down all your professors info in one place! Don’t forget to jot down where each class is on campus!
7. Choose Your Note Taking System
There are a million ways to take notes and organize them, and whatever works best for you is great. What you want to avoid is starting out the semester using your computer to take notes, then a few weeks in deciding to switch to handwritten notes.
This results in lost notes along the way and being really disorganized by the time your semester is only half way through! Choose a system now and stick to it for a whole semester. If you don’t love it, you can try something new next semester!
Things I have used in the past:
- OneNote (favorite)
- One 5 subject notebook so all my notes are in one place
- A 1 subject notebook for each class
- Write on printer paper, hole punch & and organize in a cute binder (favorite)
Your local Target store will have the cutest binders around! (Greenroom brand is my fave)
Shop my favorite notebooks below!
8. Explore Your Study Spot Options
If you are an incoming junior and you know that you absolutely hate walking across campus to study in the library (me lol) then find other options! You are going to be less likely to stick to your study schedule if you hate walking there!
Other great options include:
- Local Coffee shop (my absolute fave)
- Your room IF it isn’t too distracting and you will actually study
- The common area in your dorm hall
- Classrooms after hours
9. Visit the Classroom Before Your First Day
If you are a freshman or an upper classman and you just haven’t had classes in a certain building, then go the day before! I have been that person on the first day of class after the professor goes through roll and says, “Raise your hand if you weren’t called” and I have to embarrassingly walk out of the room and go to correct one across the hall!
It happens to the best of us! But not those who go the day before! Not to mention, if you end up having trouble finding the right room you will be late on your first day. Not the best impression for your new professor!
10. Plan Ahead to Get to Class Early on the 1st Day
Another plus of going to your classroom before the first day is knowing how long it will take you to get there either from your dorm room or the class you have prior.
Out of all the other college hacks, yes I realize this is the nerdiest BUT I would highly suggest planning to get to class at least 10 minutes early on the first day. Why? To get a front row seat! Yes, I am a nerd and think that is super important. Not an issue if you have online classes this Fall, but eventually things will go back to in person classes and this will still be important!
Sitting in the front row forces you to pay attention! What do you think is more likely? Sitting in the very back row and scrolling through Insta on your phone during lecture OR sitting in the very front row and scrolling? Definitely the latter because it is easily hidden if you are in the back!
If you are serious not only about getting stellar grades this semester but also impressing your professor and making him/her think you are an awesome student, then sit in the front! This will come back to seriously help you in the future when you need a letter of reccommendation. If you got a good grade AND you sat in the front and were engaged for every class, that professor is going to happily write you a letter for that scholarship or grad school application.
If you got an B- and sat in the back obviously not paying attention most of the time? Then you can cross that professor off because they aren’t someone you want a letter of rec from.
11. Join FB Groups or Group Chats
Another pro tip that you should look into before your classes start is if there is a Facebook group for your class! Some professors will create one and some will be hosted by students. This is amazing if you miss a day and need notes or for reminders for upcoming assignments.
Additionally, do you already know a few of your friends will be in the same class? Start a group chat now! Before your class even starts and make plans to study together in the future or swap emails to get missed notes in the future!
Hope These College Hacks Helped You!
These are college hacks that I learned the hard way and I really hope this post helps you avoid that! I will be posting many more college hacks for students so feel free to sign up for my email list so you can learn them all!