When you get your syllabus, read through it carefully. This is essentially your contract for the course. It contains a ton of important details about each class—including your professor’s office hours and contact information if you have any questions, required and suggested readings, classroom expectations, grading policies, Supplemental Instruction information (if offered with your class), and what happens if you miss an exam or a class session. Not to mention homework assignment due dates and when the exams are scheduled! Keep all course materials, including the syllabus, in a binder so you know right where they are.
A daily planner (whether in Outlook, on your iPad, or a spiral notebook) is your next most important tool–it will help you visually and physically keep track of all your commitments. First, mark all your class periods each week. Note all the important dates from each syllabus—homework assignments, readings, and exams. Fill in time to study—a good guideline is two hours studying for every hour you spend in class. This time can be used to read the materials and review your notes, or meet with a group to discuss concepts from the lectures. If your class has Supplemental Instruction, mark those times in your planner and then GO to the sessions! Your planner can also help you stay on track for major projects by creating a personalized timeline—break each project into smaller chunks and assign a due-date to each part.
Next, be sure to set aside mealtimes and breaks, such as time to workout or just relax (it sounds silly—but you can’t forget to take care of yourself!). Keep an eye out for flyers around campus advertising student organizations or events that may interest you—and put those in your planner, too.
Using these tools—the syllabus and a planner—can help you be more prepared and less stressed as you approach the end of the semester. Making a plan for your time—and following it!—will pay off when you are ready for the final exam and you have your final project completed on time!
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