By Ariel Campbell
It’s a week before your first college finals week. You’re past due for a break from school, and you’re barely hanging on for the final stretch of what seems like the fastest semester ever. While studying, you think to yourself, “how in the world am I going to be ready for all of my finals??” As hard as it may seem to keep track of the endless papers and presentations that come at the end of the semester, your organization is the first step. And you may be thinking, “why should I care about being organized?” Trust me, at this point of the semester, that’s what we’re all thinking. Your organization may actually have more to do with your success than you might have thought before.
The most important thing for you to organize in college is your time! Time management will help you plan for assignments and tests way ahead in advance, so you won’t have to worry about pulling that all-nighter at the last minute. A huge mistake that a lot of college students make is starting a paper a day or two before the deadline. Rushing a paper only makes it look sloppy and not very well executed. Instead, start researching for your paper as soon as the rubric is handed out. Write out your final exam schedule, class schedule, and any assignments, quizzes, or tests from the syllabus right at the beginning of the semester. Physically writing out your schedule, including sporting events or other extra curricular activities that you may be interested in or already involved in, will allow you to “visualize the chronological landscape of your semester and give you a heads up when you need to start studying early” (1). After all, you are not in high school anymore. College school work requires much more attention and a lot more dedication than any of your general high school classes ever did. Don’t get me wrong, this process is not an easy one either. It takes a lot to force yourself to sit down and plan months in advance, especially when that planning is just for the sake of your school work. It’s boring and come on, no one really wants to do it. But at the end of the day, those of us who do end up not only feeling more prepared and confident in our work, but actually being prepared and confident. And let’s face it, that is a pretty good feeling, if you ask me.
Your memory can be improved with organization
Along with organizing your time, organizing the actual material from class helps you out tremendously, in the long run. Organizing material can be done in the form of chunking, which your mind automatically does with everything you see, forming your perception of the world (3). Chunking can be done as easily as splitting up your chapters by topic or even by concepts that just seem to fit together while studying, rather than trying to study everything at once. “Spacing your learning like this is a great tool, because it does not take any more time than cramming, but you learn more from each session” (1). Studying related items together helps you make connections, further encoding the material into your memory. Chunking is easy, and can be done just by organizing information into sequences. One man in a study even used his experience as a track runner to improve his working memory. By organizing numbers that were read to him in sequences like track times, he was able to expand his working memory from 7 items to 80 items over a 20 month period (3). This example may seem a little dramatic, but think about how much you can improve your working memory in just a couple months if you can find your own strategy behind chunking information for your classes. As you study for tests, you will feel, not only more prepared, but less stressed, as well.
I mean, you can decide for yourself…. who would you rather be?
Why do it?
- Organizing your time and assignments will help you reduce the chance of trying to cram a huge assignment in the night before, or even worse, missing the deadline completely.
- Having a plan of what needs to be done when will actually give you more free time. Rather than missing a basketball game because of that 10-page paper you forgot about, you will have that all figured out ahead of time.
- Cramming all of your studying into one night will have you stressed, in turn, affecting your ability to focus on your school work, both in and out of the classroom.
So…. go on, and get that life of yours together before your mind ends up like this:
- Putnam, A. L., Sungkhassettee, V. W., & Roediger, H. L., III. (2016). Optimizing Learning in College: Tips from Cognitive Psychology. Retrieved November 15, 2018, from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/
- McLeod, S. (1970, January 01). Memory, Encoding Storage and Retrieval | Simply Psychology. Retrieved November 15, 2018, from https://www.simplypsychology.org/memory.html
- Popova, M. (2015, September 18). The Science of “Chunking,” Working Memory, and How Pattern Recognition Fuels Creativity. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/09/04/the-ravenous-brain-daniel-bor/
- ACDC Success Tip: Why Organization is Important in College. (2017, October). Retrieved November 20, 2018, from https://www.unomaha.edu/news/