Academic Success in College – Start Every Semester Organized and in Control

Success in college begins with the organization of coursework at the beginning of each semester. Fortunately, techniques are available that are as powerful as an academic nuclear bomb, yet are so simple they are almost common sense. Use them, and you’ll feel like Popeye after eating spinach!

Hey students: Buy a big desk calendar for around $4 from somewhere like Office Depot, or get a calendar with space for writing under each day. The moment you get the syllabi for all of your courses, go through the entire semester and put down every test, paper, presentation, field trip, final exam – everything for every course – under the appropriate date.

I can not begin to tell you how important this is. Once the semester is laid out, you will be able to see clearly those periods of time when things stack up, such as several tests in the same week, or tests at the same time that term papers, presentations or book reviews are due.

There are so many important things to put on your calendar. For some courses you might have to attend concerts or plays, or take field trips. The calendar helps you organize it all and see into the future. It is a crystal ball. Your calendar will enable you to anticipate and plan well in advance for those weeks in which multiple tests or other assignments fall.


You will already know when tests or papers are coming up because they will be on your calendar, but here is the key to success: Backtrack and put on your calendar the exact date to BEGIN each assignment in order to have plenty of time to earn your “A.”

Put down the exact date to begin studying so that you have four or five days to prepare for a major exam.

Put down the exact date to begin research for a paper, and the exact date to start writing.

Put down the exact date to start working lots of math problems for a math test. Math, sciences and foreign languages are especially critical because knowledge builds on previous knowledge as you go through the semester. If you get behind in math, science or a foreign language, you are dead. You just can’t learn math by skimming over math problems. You have to wrestle with them and work them, the more the better. The same with foreign languages. You have to learn vocabulary, pronounce words, translate, etc.

Put on your calendar the exact date to begin working on a presentation, and the exact date to start practicing out loud in your home (e.g., usually at least two or three days before you have to stand up in front of the class).

By recording the dates on which to START assignments, you give yourself a perfect blueprint for the semester, especially those times when things stack up. In college, there are things going on all the time, but you will be able to coordinate everything. Your weeks will be extremely productive and satisfying by planning them around your calendar.

Another reason to know everything that is coming up: Fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown is a real drain. If you don’t have a calendar, you will still know in the back of your mind that a deadline is approaching. It will drive you crazy or make you feel bad. With a calendar, NOTHING sneaks up on you. YOU have total control and the ability to deal with everything. Plan each week around your calendar and you will never be overwhelmed.

You’ll also be able to utilize your breaks with greater effectiveness. If you are behind in something and fall break is coming up, instead of going out of town for five days, go out for three, and use the other two to catch up or get ahead. You have to think this way because it will enable you to have a life yet still do good in school.

If you don’t take control of your coursework and schedule, you are blowing in the wind. You are courting frustration. You will be a much weaker student than you could have been.

It is powerful to have a good calendar and know where you are going every single week during the semester. It is good to plan your weeks in life.

Your calendar really is sort of magical and should be viewed as part of your brain. Use it to enhance your personal power and brainpower with organization.

Having a good calendar and being organized will also help you party more. You will anticipate your assignments and often get them done early. Then you can head out the door feeling good.