Starting college can be an exciting and overwhelming experience. You’ll have to juggle a new place and schedule, build relationships, and manage higher academic demands. It is completely normal to feel all kinds of emotions in the transition, from excitement to nervousness. Fortunately, there are many resources at your disposal, like orientations, tutors, academic advisors, campus support services, and of course, friends going through similar experiences as you. Still, one of the best ways to prepare to do well in college is by following our top six organizational tips for students to be successful.
Why are Organizational Skills Important for College Students?
As a college student, you’ll have a great deal going on in your life, including school, extracurriculars, family commitments, and social activities. Being able to manage all these can be overwhelming at times. Having good organizational skills for students with learning disabilities is essential to maintaining your sanity and getting the most out of your college experience. Organization skills help you juggle multiple commitments so you can find time for school, friends, family, hobbies–whatever is important to you–leading to a smoother education experience and less stress down the line.
Top Organizational Skills for Students with Learning Disabilities
The most critical organizational skills for students with learning disabilities are:
- Planning: knowing how to plan your weekly and monthly schedule
- Prioritization: knowing what tasks need to be done first
- Time Management: knowing how to use your time effectively
If you can master these three organizational skills for students with learning disabilities, you’ll be well on your way to experiencing success in college and beyond.
6 Organizational Tips for Students to be Successful in College
Whether you’ve already started college and need to get organized or you’re preparing before you go, here are six tips for staying organized with ADHD and other learning disabilities.
1. Use a Calendar for Important Dates
One of the best ways to stay organized is to write everything down in one place–not on random sticky notes or notebook pages that’ll soon get lost. If you have a desk in your dorm room, a desk calendar would work nicely and provide space for you to make notes of important dates. These can include due dates for projects and campus functions or meetings you don’t want to miss.
Pro tip: Write down important dates on your calendar at the beginning of each semester or quarter using your class syllabus for due dates and the school calendar for sports games, parent’s day, and other campus activities you want to attend.
2. Use a Planner for Detailed To-Dos
A desk calendar helps you remember important dates, while a planner helps you get more detailed. A planner is also small enough to carry in your backpack, and you can always have it on you. Plan out your weekly schedule in your planner, including class times (and the building/room the class is in), due dates for homework, study time, and any other important responsibilities or activities for the week.
Pro tip: Write out your weekly schedule every Sunday night so you know what you have to do that week.
3. Organize Your To-Do List by Priorities
When it comes to staying organized with ADHD and other learning disabilities, prioritizing your to-do list is essential. Knowing what needs to be done, and having manageable steps outlined on a prioritized list, can help reduce anxiety and make it easier to stay focused and motivated throughout the day.
Pro tip: Here’s how to prioritize your weekly schedule:
- Projects/homework assignments that are due soonest
- Most challenging projects/homework assignments that may take longer to complete
- Social functions and extracurricular activities you’ve committed to doing
- Social functions and extracurricular activities you want to do
4. Color-Code Folders and Notebooks for Each Class
One of the best organizational tips for students to be successful in college is color-coding notebooks, binders, and folders for each class. For example, if you take three courses in your first quarter or semester, each class should be assigned its own color:
- English 101: Green
- Introduction to Psychology: Red
- Art History: Orange
Get a notebook and folder/binder in each color for all homework assignments, papers, and projects related to each class. That way, you’ll stay organized and won’t accidentally bring the wrong homework or report to the wrong class.
Pro tip: Choose colors that resonate with the class subject to make it easier to remember which color is which class, or choose your favorite color for your favorite class.
5. Use Clear-Pocket Folders to Help Remember Assignments
Let’s face it: hanging out with friends is more exciting than doing homework, so it’s easy to get distracted and forget about an upcoming assignment. Use clear-pocket folders for homework to help you stay on top of things. That way, you can easily see what’s due. With your homework showing through a clear-pocket folder, it will jog your memory that you have to finish that task before moving on to the next.
Pro tip: Get transparent colored folders that match your color-coded system. That way, you can see the homework and know what class it’s for.
6. Use Time Management Apps
While it’s important to develop organizational skills for students with learning disabilities, you can also use technology to your advantage. If you’re tech-savvy, try one of these organization and time management apps to make the most of your studies and stay on top of your responsibilities:
Pro tip: Writing down tasks helps you remember them, so still keep a physical calendar or planner, even if you use an app for time management.
Mansfield Hall Supports Students who Struggle with Executive Functioning, Organization, and Motivation
Staying organized with ADHD or other learning disabilities is essential for success in college. At Mansfield Hall, we believe in empowering and supporting our students to reach their goals through our goal-setting process: Pathway to Independence Model.
If you have the desire to be successful in college, you can make it happen, and we’re here to help! We provide academic support, life skills development, executive functioning strategies, and community involvement facilitated by our trained staff to help you stay organized and get the most out of your college experience. Learn more about student life at Mansfield Hall today!