The common statistic that everyone throws at you when you start your college career is that as a high school student you spent 40 hours a week in school. Now as a college student, you’ll be spending around 15 hours a week in class. The rest of your time is up to you to manage, you have to figure out how to balance school and extracurricular activities, you’ll need to learn how to be organized…it goes on and on and on!
It can be overwhelming as an incoming freshman to have all of these things thrown at you. Especially because you’re never given any real options that could you help you tackle these changes. After arriving at Hopkins, it’s easier acclimate as you see what kind of tools current students are using. Instead of waiting until you arrive here, though, I thought a guide with some of the college organizational essentials would help you hit the ground running in the fall!
Calendar: Whether you are an Android or iOS user, utilizing your phone and laptop’s calendar is absolutely essential. On top of your normal class schedule, it’s helpful to include club meetings, work schedules, volunteer slots, and research times. It makes getting from place to place easier on a daily basis, and removes the element of remembering exactly what you’re supposed to be doing every second of the day. It might not have been needed in high school, but in college it’s a must if you want to keep on top of your day to day life!
Semester.ly: Semester.ly is a Hopkins start up! I actually work for them, so I know what a powerful scheduling tool it is. Semester.ly allows you to plan your semesterly (get the name now?) schedule easily! Using all of the course data available, Semester.ly automatically generates compatible schedules for you. All you have to do is select which classes you want to take. It then creates different schedule options; you simply have to scroll through and select which one you like best! Semester.ly also summarizes course ratings, meaning you don’t have to go through the enormous documents on the Hopkins website. You can even buy and rent physical or Kindle textbooks through Amazon on our website at the lowest prices. With the new upcoming version, Semester.ly will allow you to save multiple schedules and incorporate your club and work schedules; once you have your final schedule, you can share it with your friends via a URL! Scheduling classes by hand can take hours, with Semester.ly, it can be done in a matter of minutes! Follow us on Facebook to get the most recent updates on version 3!
Google Keep: Google Keep is a great tool for keeping lists and quick notes. I love using it especially for to-do lists. You’ll be juggling tons of different due dates and projects, with academics and extracurricular activities. Putting tasks on a to-do list as you get them means you have to remember less and can focus on actually accomplishing the task at hand! Google Keep allows you take quick notes on online sticky notes. These lists and notes are all pinned to the dashboard, and can be rearranged in whatever order you want. Everything is backed up to your Gmail account, so all of your lists are accessible on any device with internet connection.
Notability: Regardless of what area of study you choose to pursue at JHU, you are probably going to have to take a class that involves some kind of outside reading. Professors are really good about providing online copies of the texts or slides for classes, which is convenient for the most part. The downside is that it makes it difficult to annotate texts. An excellent solution is Notability. Notability allows you to mark up, highlight, and even make voice recordings for any text. The app is designed for iPhones and iPads, and is widely used for the convenience of not having to print out readings.
One Note: With so many different classes and activities, you’re going to be taking more notes than ever before. The most important part is finding a way to keep them organized and easily accessible. My favorite tool to do this is using Microsoft’s One Note. Compatible with both Windows and Macs, it allows you to create multiple online notebooks. The notebooks stay open as tabs in the program, letting you have fast and easy access to them all semester. Each notebook can be color coded, lined to the size of your choice, and essentially be designed however you want. At the end of the semester, you can save all of the notebook tabs to an overall folder and start all over for the next semester! It removes the clutter of old notebooks while keeping all of your old notes.
Hopefully this post gave you an idea of the some of the tools Hopkins students use on a daily basis to help manage their lives. Using Semester.ly to get your initial freshman fall schedule set up will be a great start. From there on out, using these tools and any other that you discover will help you manage your new life as a Blue Jay!