A lot can go into planning a semester. There are assignments to think about, breaks to plan, and other schedules to work around. It’s quite a bit of work actually. In fact, I myself am planning my semester out this week. It’s a bit of a workout, but it is a study strategy that pays off in the long run.
So how do we actually go about planning a semester? While it may not be terribly complicated, it does require some time on the front end and follow-through on the back end. That’s why we know most students won’t ever do this. It’s extra work.
But planning your semester is extra work that results in a big-time pay off. Specifically, we’re talking about less time spent, fewer crazy-stressful late night study sessions, and ultimately better grades.
Are you convinced that this is a good idea? Try these four steps to develop a plan for your semester that will ultimately save you loads of time.
1. Plan your semester in writing
First, makes sure when you do this, write it down. This can be on a regular old calendar. It could also be on a student-specific agenda/planner.It doesn't really matter where you write it down -- what's truly important is that you write it down. Click To Tweet
If you’re paperless, that’s no problem either. Just type out your plans on a digital planner or calendar. Typically, I use Google calendar for all of my scheduling needs. It works great. Also, since I forget easily, I get reminders emailed to me. It’s a super helpful feature.
2. Use your syllabus to plan your semester
This is key. If you don’t have a syllabus yet, you can’t really do this. You need a syllabus.
Specifically, we’re looking for any assignment due dates. That’s the biggest piece of info for this first step. Also, it’s really important that you have a sense of how big a project or assignment actually is. To plan out our calendar effectively, we need to know how much of that calendar is going to be taken up by working on that project.
If you just have a few pages to read, that’s not a big deal. If you have a few books to read, you need to start thinking long-term rather than just short-term.
3. Record all big events and due dates for your semester
Put down those due dates wherever they show up. If you have a paper calendar, make sure you have a way of identifying what is an assignment due date and what is not a due date. Consider writing all due dates in red, for example.
If you’re using Google Calendar (or something similar), I recommend creating a calendar color for all due dates. This helps you make sure you know what you need to turn in and when.
4. Break those due dates into daily tasks.
Recording due dates is not the end-all of semester planning. You need to make sure that you are breaking them down into daily tasks.
This is really the key to being a highly productive student. If you never break tasks down, you can get caught off guard when big projects come due. Research papers are just due one day. That doesn’t change the fact that they require you to work on them for at least two weeks in most cases.
Don’t get caught off guard this semester. Plan your semester before you ever get started. If you have other tips, we’d love to connect with you on social media — let’s keep the conversation going.