Tips for Staying Organized in School

By Jake Mauriello 

The transition into college can be hard for even the most well-prepared student. Between the loss of a fixed schedule, the absence of parental control and an influx of work and responsibilities, it’s easy to feel yourself getting disorganized as you enter adulthood.

On top of this, not much is done to send college students off feeling ready to take on the challenges that lay ahead. According to a national Harris Poll conducted in 2015, 60% of students felt that they were unprepared for college when they arrived on campus.

Feeling unprepared and disorganized can take a toll on anyone, but especially college students. To help, here are four tips to stay organized in school, for the college student who feels like their life could use it.

1. Keep a Schedule

High school was easy; in at seven, out by two, the occasional after-school activity, then repeat. While the mundaneness of such a schedule may not be missed as you enter college, the structure certainly will be. With more sporadic classes, as well as meetings, jobs and whatever else may get thrown your way, it’s essential to keep track of everything.

“Making sure that you’re keeping track of what’s due is important, whether it’s a calendar on your desk or one that you carry with you,” said Brooke Nelson, a professional organizer and owner of Transformative Spacing in Kingston.

While an old-fashioned paper planner may work for some, it’s easy to understand why it may not be the best option for those on-the-go. That’s where digital calendars come in. Google Calendar allows you to map out your days, weeks and even months in advance. You can opt to receive a notification as each event approaches. It’s a great tool to keep track of your schedule, and to avoid having to run out of your dorm in pajamas because you’re late to a meeting (we’ve all been there).

2. Keep an Organized Closet

College is a lot of late nights, and even more early mornings; the only thing that can make waking up for a 7 a.m. worse is having to dig through a disorganized closet to pick out an outfit. Even if you don’t have an extensive wardrobe, if each item of clothing has its place, you can avoid turning a simple task like getting dressed into a daily struggle.

“One nice little tip is one-in, one-out,” Nelson said. “So if you’re buying a shirt, that means a shirt has to go. That keeps it so you’re not accumulating too much, because when you’re in a small space you can’t accumulate.” 

3. Buckets/Bins are your Friends!

Storage space will always be an issue in college, especially if you find yourself living in a dorm and sharing a room with one or more people. This is never an ideal situation, especially if you’re attending a school far from home and need to bring your entire life with you. To keep from losing your things (and your mind), bins and buckets are your best bet. 

“In order to keep things tidy, you need to have a system in place,” Nelson said. “The biggest thing is there needs to be a place for everything.” Nelson also stressed the importance of sticking to the routine of keeping things in their designated place and avoiding what she calls “relapsing.” 

4. Take a Break

It’s easy to fall into the trap of having too much to do, and too little time. When you have a lot of work piled up, you may forget to take time for yourself—one of the worst things you could do.

According to a report published by the American Psychological Association, based on a survey taken by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health in 2016, 61% of college students reported having anxiety. On top of this, 49% reported having depression and 45% reported experiencing stress. 

It’s easy to feel like these numbers are a given due to the high amount of work given in college, but by disregarding your own personal care, your likelihood of experiencing these mental health issues only increases. 

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Brian Rice offers some great information about why you should be avoiding all-nighters. 



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