Getting Organized for Back to School

two high school students get organized for back to school
By: Flickr user Blake Gumprecht

By: Evita Amassi, MSW
There is no “right” way to get organized. Teens need to be creative and flexible until they discover what works best for them. Here is an overview to get you started.
Organizational Tips

  • Have a Planner and USE it. You can typically get one from your school! This could be a datebook you keep in your bag, an online version you maintain at home, or both. Manage your time wisely to get the most out of each day.
  • If you work well with technology, use organizer software on a computer, a smartphone or tablet. For example, you can use google calendar to mark due dates and test dates in advance, and for scheduling reminders to be sent to your smartphone before the due dates.  It is an excellent way to keep you on track. Update both your planner AND electronic calendar routinely!
  • Get used to checking e-mail, your school and course website’s, and school related tasks online. Set aside a time that you check these for updates. Your teachers may be accessible via e-mail as well. So, know their e-mails too!
  • Pinnacle Viewer or other online grade-tracking systems, are your friend! And you should get in the habit of checking those regularly too. Make sure you have your password and student ID numbers readily available for easy access.
  • If you have standing tutoring appointments, after school tutorials, sports practices/extra-curricular activities, be sure these are all written down in a calendar format, along with school concerts, field trips, etc.

Note Taking Tips

  • Retype your class notes and save them (with dates and course titles) on your computer. You can email them to yourself for easy access or use file-sharing software like  DropBox OR Google docs. Anything that you create on a computer, remember to e-mail it to yourself! Get in that habit, so nothing gets lost!
  • Note-taking should be in a form that is most helpful to you. If you are more of a visual person, try writing notes on different colored index cards. Re-writing your notes daily is another strategy. If you really have a problem with note-taking, you might ask your teacher if you can tape-record classes. Do whatever it takes!
  • There are also plenty of smartphone apps that provide digital sticky notes. Use these when you’re on the go or all the time if digital sticky notes are easier to compile than their paper counterparts.
    • GET A LIBRARY CARD! King County Public Library Systems allow you to print a certain number of copies for free! If you are the type of learner who likes to write in books and high-light, you can make copies of the text in your textbooks at the library and high-light all you want! 

School Supplies

  • Divide your notebooks into sections for each subject. Hole punch and insert handouts or assignments in the appropriate notebook sections. Be sure to use dividers, and use different colored tabs for each subject.
  • Get a binder or folder for each subject to separate the paper.
  • Make sure to have a copy of your syllabus handy for each class. Make a copy for your parents and keep them all in one place.
  • If you tend to lose papers, try using a zipper binder to keep track of homework assignments.
  • Create a system for tracking papers. A file cabinet might work well, or you can find a cardboard box large enough to fit file folders, label a folder for each subject, and insert papers in the appropriate file folders in the box. The container store has some pretty funky cool boxes!
  • Keep keys on a big ring so that you can find them easily, or use a brightly-colored keychain. If you store homework assignments and other important papers digitally, you can transfer these documents onto a USB device that can attach to your keychain.
  • Use a dry-erase calendar board if you want more space (and like using markers!) to keep track of daily tasks and events. It is also great for studying and brainstorming ideas on!
  • Make a daily list (on paper or on a smartphone) of everything you need for classes, labs or meetings. Include reminders for money, transportation, and food. Check the list every morning before leaving your room so that you know what you have to do.
    • If you have trouble keeping track of passwords, try using password manager software like mSecure.

“A place for everything and everything in its place.

Keep all your study materials (calculator, planner, books, notebooks, laptop, etc.) in one convenient location.

  • DESK: Always have a sanctuary where you can go and study. Keep your desk neat and organized.  Decorate it, keep it well stocked, but not over-crowded. You want to have plenty of space to study and spread out. Sometimes, a change of scenery might be nice for studying! There is always a library or a coffee shop nearby to frequent.
  • LOCKER: If you use a school locker, be sure to check it at the end of each day. Perhaps schedule a continuous reminder on your smart-phone for when school gets out, to check your locker at the end of the day, to be sure you haven’t left anything in it, to maximize your productivity in the evening! Keep non-perishable snacks in your locker in case you get hungry before a test or class, that way you always have an emergency snack ready and close by.
  • SUPPLIES: Sticky-notes, note-cars, printer paper, and high-lighters are all staples for studying!

Evita Almassi About Evita
Evita Almassi is a Seattle-lite born and raised and like most Seattle-lites loves a good cup of coffee and is a dedicated Husky having gotten both her undergrad and grad degrees from UW.  She has worked for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and with local organizations such as Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras, The City of Bellevue, Easter Seals Washington, and Flash Volunteer. Evita currently works in college admissions counseling.


One Response

  1. My CollegeMapper says the date is May 2014 but the date is September 2014 and I need to change it ASAP. So I will be glad if u can help me change my calendar on my College Mapper. Thank you!

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