Thursday, July 31, 2014

Organize My Life: School Work

{Organize My Life is a multi-post series all about (you guessed it) organization! Make sure you check out the other posts listed at the end of each entry (as most of these posts will reference one another), as well as the coinciding video!}

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Organize My Life! Today I'll be tackling School Work organization. As I'm writing this post (I'm writing this on Sunday, this post will go live Thursday), I am just about to start a summer intensive course so the timing is sort of perfect for me to write about this subject!

As most of you know, I'm currently a graduate student, so I still have to keep track of school work and need keep everything relatively organized to do so. I've had the same system for school work organization since I was in about 6th or 7th grade, so it's pretty clear that this system works for me. I thought it might help others who may be struggling with organizing their school work as well since this a tried-and-true method for me. However, don't think this is the only or best way to approach it. Tweak it to your liking and make sure that it works for you!

Binder System

As I mentioned in the introduction, I've been using this system since I was in middle school and it's always been what works best for me. I like to have a 3-ring binder for each of the classes that I'm taking so none of the materials from any of my other courses get mixed in and I'm sure that everything that I need for that class is all in one place. (Of course, there's the occasional mix up, but it's been simpler since I left high school as I'm usually only taking one or two classes in a day instead of six or seven!)

I usually use 1.5" - 2" binders, as I'm never too sure how much paperwork I'll be receiving from my professors (some don't give any in the effort of being green, while others should be arrested for how many trees they're killing!). I usually go with a different color for each class, so it's easy for me to point out which binder I need to take with me when I'm running out the door.

I like to throw tabbed dividers into all of my binders to section off different document types from one another. I went with these colorful plastic dividers from Avery for my grad school binders, that are complete with pockets, so I can store things in their respective sections if I don't have a 3-hole punch handy. Love them! I usually section off each binder with the following categories: Syllabus, Hand Outs, Assignments, Tests/Quizzes, and Notes.

Syllabus: This section is usually where I put the course information, including syllabi and anything else that pertains to the course as a whole. I put it right in the front of the binder so I don't have to go sifting through pages in order to find one due date.

Hand Outs: I usually put any additional documents that professors hand out on a whim, like relevant articles, printed outlines, resources, etc.

Assignments: This is where I would put any past, present, or future assignment information, such as rubrics, instructions, examples, and things along those lines. I'll also put any graded assignments here, so if I need them for the future they're easy to find.

Tests/Quizzes: Study guides and graded tests and quizzes would go here. I haven't had as many exams in grad school, so these haven't been utilized as often, but it's still handy to have, just in case.

Notes: I'll usually put loose-leaf paper here and take notes right in my binder. It's just easier to carry the one binder for each class instead of carrying a binder and a notebook as well.

Overall this has been a really effective system for me. I know that all of the documents I need for each class are right in one spot, which makes it easy for me to grab things and quickly be prepared for class.

Tracking Assignments

I'm a paper/stationary kind of girl, so I stay on top of my assignments through my Erin Condren Life Planner. I have a special color code for anything that pertains to class, including assignments. At the beginning of each course, I'll usually leaf through the course syllabus and write down due dates for important papers, projects, and even dates of exams - which also get highlighted so they're not lost in the chaos of my planner. Weekly assignments and readings tend to get written down as they're given and are not highlighted as they're usually at the front of my mind. Because I only take about 3 classes a semester, I use the "goals & notes" section of the weekly view to write down my assignments. I also make sure that I write a "warning" note the week before the due date, so I'm aware at least a week in advance if I really need to buckle down on something.

Work from Previous Courses

In the past, I haven't really hung on to work from my previous courses, especially when I had electronic copies of it, but since I've started grad school I've found it more important for me to keep my previous assignments, hand outs, and references in case I'll need them for future use for both academic and professional purposes. Enter the box:

I stopped by Staples on my way home from work and found this gem to create a filing system for these documents. It's a clear, letter-size file box, and I'm colorful, 3-tab, heavy weight, letter size folders to keep all of my documents organize. I wanted to do something similar to my binder system so it's easy to navigate (divided type of document, subject, etc.) except in a more consolidated style, so I don't have to search course by course.

I also broke it down by my program (which is Counseling) and my concentration (which is Student Affairs). My concentration documents will likely be more relevant to me in my future as a professional, but holding on to some of the counseling information that I have collected and will collect during the rest of my time in grad school could be beneficial when it comes to working with students in the future, too! To give you a better insight of how I've divided everything, here's all of the headers for the folders and what's inside of them: ACA/ACPA/NASPA Documents, Counseling Articles, Counseling Theory, Course Work, Higher Ed. Articles, Student Development Theory, and Syllabi.

ACA/ACPA/NASPA Documents: ACA (the American Counseling Association), ACPA (College Student Educators International), and NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) are the three main organizations many of my professors base their curriculum off of. Because of that, there are many documents from these organizations that are used across the classes I take. It's good to hold on to them so I'm not printing off new copies every semester.

Counseling Articles: These are articles that pertain specifically to counseling that I thought may come in handy for future assignments or outside projects.

Counseling Theroy: I put documents that help me better understand the different theories within counseling a bit better in this folder. Some of these are class notes, some of them are hand outs from professors, and some of these are from other resources that I found on my own.

Course Work: This section is all of my own work that I've completed throughout my time as a grad student. I divided this sections by semester so I'll be able to locate certain assignments a bit easier.

Higher Ed. Articles: These are articles that pertain specifically to higher education and student affairs that I thought may come in handy for future assignments or outside projects.

Student Development Theory: I put documents that help me better understand the different theories regarding college student development a bit better in this folder. Some of these are class notes, some of them are hand outs from professors, and some of these are from other resources that I found on my own.

Syllabi: Pretty self-explanatory, but this is where I keep all of the syllabi from my previous courses. I figured that I might be inspired by previous assignments that I've had  for future projects, or may want to remember the name of a textbook or article I was assigned to in a certain class. This way I'll have the specifics!

This is a brand new system that obviously hasn't been utilized too much quite yet, but I'll be sure to keep you updated if I find something that works a little bit better for me.


With back-to-school just a few weeks away (scary, I know!), I hope that you find this post helpful in preparing for your new year of classes! Make sure you check out the coincinding video below to really get a feel of how everything looks in my school work organization system!

The next Organize My Life post will be about keeping your bags organized.
Stay tuned for that post in just a couple short weeks!

Previous Organize My Life Posts: Erin Condren Life Planner 6 Month Update

**BONUS ANNOUNCEMENT**: Since back-to-school is just around the corner, I'm reviving the College Survival Series here on FivEleveNinety for the month of August! Every Sunday evening throughout August I will be posting advice about a different issue college students typically run into, so make sure you check back then!

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