ONLY ONE MORE WEEK UNTIL SCHOOL STARTS!!! That may have been a little overly enthusiastic….but it’s an accurate reflection of how excited I am for classes to start!

Now that I have one year of university officially under my belt, I thought I would share a few ways I’ve learned to maximize my start of the year planning and preparation.

1. Record assignment deadlines all in one place.

“But why would I do this when I can just reference my syllabi?” you might ask. Because when you record all your deadlines in the same place, ideally in a planner or calendar of some sort, it becomes a lot easier to see how close those due dates are. In addition to saving time, this also helps to pinpoint busy times in the semester and plan accordingly, which leads me to my next point.

2. Make your less busy times busier, and your busier times less busy.

Let’s break this down. After you’ve (hopefully) consolidated all of your information into one place, it should be easy to distinguish the busier parts of the year when a lot of assignments are due, from less busy times when almost nothing is due. Usually the first month will have very few assignments, if any, with most assignments due around reading week, and at the end of November.

Now, instead of grumbling about how hectic the school year is going to be, you get to breathe a sigh of relief, because you have a way to make things much less stressful. That’s right folks, you have the power to give yourself your own due dates.

Simply take an assignment (or two, or three…as many as you need) with a very inconvenient deadline, and assign it an earlier due date. This allows you to space out your assignments (somewhat) equally throughout the semester and avoid the stress that can result from juggling multiple assignments that are due within a very short time span.

I highly recommend getting as much as possible done in September, especially during the first couple weeks when not much is happening. Yes, you might be in the library when everyone else is chilling out, but in the long run you’ll be the one with time to relax while they’re stressing out about papers.

Note: I know that not all profs provide access to assignment guidelines at the beginning of the year…BUT I’ve found that the profs who do provide information early on in the year usually offset those who don’t, so this method of planning can work!

3. Try UofT’s Assignment Calculator

This assignment calculator is a gem of a planning resource. All you have to do is input a start date, an end date, select the type of assignment (research paper, lab report, presentation etc.), and the calculator breaks down the assignment into manageable steps, each with their own due date. Not only can this be super helpful with planning out your time, but it can be especially great if you’re not quite sure where to start on any given assignment.

Stay tuned for more back to school advice, including how to study well, make the most of course readings, and ideas for a streamlined research process.

Looking for other uni tips and tricks in the meantime? You may be interested in my other posts on living a balanced life, and what I learned in my first semester of university.

Verity Bellerose