Staying Organized in College

Last semester, my first official semester as a college student, I took 17 credit hours consisting of 5 classes and 2 labs. This semester I am taking 20 credit hours mixed between the in classroom and online settings. In order to be successful, organization is essential!

Everyone works differently, so it is important to discover a method that will work for you. I will share the way that I organize everything and some of the things that I have tried. Hopefully this will help you find a system that will help make your life stress free!

Class Materials

1. The Binder System

Each class that I am taking is assigned a 1″ Binder. (I got a big pack of them on sale at Costco and reuse them each semester until they must be replaced to save money). I make each Binder a cover that sets it apart and labels the class on the front. I blogged some covers that I’ve made at the beginning of last semester and you can view them here. They can be as simple as printing the class names on different colors of cardstock and slipping them into the Binder’s cover.


Inside the Binder, I put a clear page protector to hold the syllabus. If the class has both a Lecture and a Lab part, I combine those into the same binder and separate them with an additional page protector in front of the second part so that both syllabi are located in front of the part that they coincide with. In each page protector I keep them entire syllabus and a piece of notebook paper that I use to keep track of both grades and absences from that specific class. This is so important because if a teacher accuses you of being absent enough times that you will dropped from the class you can go back and look at your list to verify that information.



All the notes, handouts, and homework assignments are kept in chronological order behind the page protector. As soon as a unit is completed, I paper clip the unit together so that I can easily flip to the unit that I am currently working on.

2. Take Good Notes

I am not going to go into much detail here because every class requires different note taking strategies. I will however say that it is so important to clearly label your notes and keep them organized in your binders so that you can easily reference them when completing homework assignments. Also, if you are taking an online class this is important because you can use the notes on your tests!

3. Plan Ahead

My favorite part of staying organized is keeping everything scheduled in my planner. I write down EVERYTHING from homework and classes to cleaning my room and free time. I like being able to check things off as my day goes on because it makes me feel more motivated and productive. I know that might be a bit excessive but it has kept me on top of deadlines for all of my classes. Not only write down the due date, but also write down when you are going to work on the assignment. When it comes time to mark things off the list, I high-light it. I don’t cross it out because I want to be able to double check that something was on the list in the first place.



4. Prepare Before Class

Every night before I go to bed I plug my computer in to charge it and then grab my backpack. I look at my class schedule for the next morning and verify that the assignments for each class are ready to go. Then I place the Binders and textbooks that I need in my backpack and stock up on pens and highlighters. I also keep a folder of notebook paper and scantrons in my backpack at all times so that I am prepared to take notes and tests every time I go to class.

5. Organizing Class Materials

Because I have a Binder and at least one textbook per class, it is important for me to keep up with all of these materials. I keep them in a plastic milk crate from Walmart which has been awesome!


Each night when I sit down to do homework, I pull out the binders and books that I will need for the assignments and set them on my desk. As each one is completed, I replace it in the crate.

This was my stack of work from last semester’s finals!


Dorm Room

1. Everything Must Have a Home

Dorm rooms are tiny! Space is limited and keeping the space you have clean and organized can be really hard because it looks messy so fast. When you move in or decide to organize your room, find a spot for everything. For example, all my clothes hang up in my closet. My bathroom stuff is contained in one drawer. My get ready makeup and jewelry is one drawer. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle having to look four different places every time I needed something. Just be sure that you put everything where it goes after you use it. Even if the drawer looks like a bunch of crap thrown in a drawer, make sure you put it in there. The best part of drawers is that you can close them and not see the mess.

2. Clean Frequently

My roommate and I often go back to our room before lunch and tidy it up for about ten minutes. It helps us put away our appliances and make-up that we left out, sanitize our sink, make our beds, vacuum, etc. This helps the mess stay contained to a minimum and it eliminates bad odors and germs.

I try to keep it nice and tidy so that it looks like it did when we first got settled in. You can see pictures and tips for dorm rooms here.


3. Laundry

When I do laundry, I sort the piles on the floor and then carry them down individually to the washers. I never leave the piles out for more than a couple hours and if I don’t finish before bed time, they go back into my laundry basket. When I have fresh laundry from the dryer, I carry it back to my room and put it away immediately! This helps me not live out of my chair and it minimizes the amount of clothes that need to be ironed.

Overall, it is important to stay organized to minimize the stress in your life and help you be more successful in college. I understand that not everyone works this way but I do think having some type of system is important. How to do you keep yourself organized?


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