The Ultimate Guide to College Organization

One of my favorite quotes is, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” College organization and planning is the major way that I’ve kept my head above water in school. Being organized has been my saving grace when it comes to grades, and today, I’m showing you my process. It may be a little much, but I hope you can pick and choose to see what works for you!

The rest of this post is available on my college site, College Compass. As of August 2016, all my college help posts and downloadable have been updated and moved there to help you navigate your college years! To read more about this decision, read my announcement.

Read the Rest on College Compass

Sara Laughed

Hey hey! I'm Sara, an American writer living in the Netherlands and working as a product manager.

  1. Maxime says:

    Super fijne blogpost!
    Heb er echt veel aan gehad, eindelijk een systeem wat voor mij werkt!
    Het lijkt inderdaad veel werk maar het is zo veel overzichtelijker wanneer alles netjes georgianiseerd is.
    Waar is de agenda van? Ik ben al tijden op zoek naar een agenda met zowel een maand als een week overzicht.

  2. Marisa says:

    This is such a helpful post! Especially love your tip on creating a list of due dates for all your courses. I’m definately going to make one now. Thanks!

  3. Colleen Eck says:

    Sounds like a great way to stay organized! I also live by my syllabi and always write out all major due dates in my agenda the first day of the semester. I then make daily to-do lists also, just to stay on top of which assignments I need to work on each day. College can definitely be overwhelming, but with a method to the madness, as you said, it can be managed!

    1. Sara Laughed says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Colleen! I agree that it can be a hassle to do so many things to stay organized, but in my experience it’s an even bigger hassle to let them get out of control! (;

  4. Sara says:

    Hi Sara! My name is Sara also! 🙂 I found your post on Pintrest while searching for tips on juggling being a full time mom and a full time student. I read thru it twice and then again and took notes. I just bought a bigger planner and am feeling better about surviving!

    1. Sara Laughed says:

      Hi Sara! Thanks so much for commenting! I am so happy that this post was able to help you – I hope it brings some method to the inevitable madness of being a full-time student and mom! If you’re interested, I also wrote another post you may find helpful, about getting your best grades in college. I hope your new planner takes away from the stress a little bit! You can do this!

  5. Janiah Adams says:

    Hi! I came across this post on Pinterest, and it’s great! I’m going to start my summer semester in a few weeks, so I’m trying to reorganize. This helped a lot 🙂

  6. Rebecca Mathew says:

    Hey Sara, Thank you so much for this post! I’m obsessed with planning too, especially because I’m a psych/pre-med major with a Bible minor. This will be very useful 🙂

  7. Emily says:

    This post is so useful! I just have a question–do you have any planners that you recommend? I haven’t been able to find one that I’m in love with yet, and I’m wondering if it’s worth it to find one that is hourly.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Emily! I have an hourly Emily Ley planner that I love, but I find the paper to be a little thin. If you like to get creative with your planners, I recommend an Erin Condren, which are colorful and have nice thick paper. For a daily or hourly layout, Emily Ley and the Day Designer should work! I have found many cheap alternatives to both at Target, which you can usually get for under $20. Good luck!

  8. Camille Thuot says:

    Hi Sara!
    Great post! Thanks for the tips!
    You talked about using microsoft notebook instead of excel. Do you have a link to download microsoft notebook?

    1. Amber says:

      Totally not 100% sure, but I think she means OneNote. If I’m wrong, hopefully she’ll correct me, but the formatting looks similar (I don’t use OneNote so I can’t be certain).

  9. kptorbs says:

    Had to come back to your blog and thank you for the awesome tips. I read them shortly after beginning my semester last month. This is my first time back in college after a long hiatus between degrees, and I needed some structure. Your blog is full of it! After reading this post, I immediately went out and bought a planner and colored pens. I do my dates like you show in your planner, using the colors to represent different courses and red for important due dates with a color coordinating dot beside of it for the class it belongs to. As a bonus, when I went to get my supplies they had spiral notebooks that matched the colored pens for 20 cents each… so now even my notebooks coordinate with my planner, and Canvas, the platform my school uses for classes, allows you to color code your courses online so those match too. I FEEL SO PUT TOGETHER. This would’ve saved me years ago when I bombed my freshman year! Thank you!

    1. Sara says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this! Stories like this make the work I do worth it! It means so much to me that this has helped you and it means so much that you came back to share. Also, yes, color-coding can do so much! (;

  10. LavenderElephantGirl says:

    Where do you recommend getting planners? I tried Plum Paper, but the options were overwhelming and I’m a visual person, so I couldn’t really see how it would all turn out and that stresses me out. I don’t want to spend $30 on something when I don’t even know how it will really look. Do you have any suggestions for REALLY good planners that you love? Thank you!

  11. Katherine M says:

    This post literally just saved my semester. I’m taking nine classes (yup, you read that right..) so your blog has been soooo helpful for helping me get on top of my life for once and prepare for the upcoming semester! I used the planner tips to organize mine! I also decided to color code the type of assignment, which is super helpful! Thank you!

  12. Peyton says:

    Hi, I just came across your posts, and as a college student, they seem to be very helpful. Unfortunately, the collegecompass website and the some of the links you use do not work anymore. I would love to read the rest of your Ultimate Guide to College Organization if possible!

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