When I started at Simmons last semester, I got my official acceptance the day before Orientation started. My decision was a major change of course from my previous plans, so when I showed up, I had very little organized and prepared.
This semester will be different, because of the five week break between. I have time to put things together in advance. This way, should I encounter any major problems, such as the removal of an organ, I will hopefully be in a better position to stay current and not fall behind.
Step 1: Books and Materials
During the last week of classes, I wrote to each of my spring semester professors and asked for the titles of the textbooks I would need. In addition to being able to read up in advance of class, this gave me extra time to comparison shop for the best prices. Some classes didn't have textbooks, but two professors have agreed to send me their syllabi with links to articles online that I'll need to read. One professor also mentioned that I would need a particular type of calculator, so I've been able to order that and practice using it.
Last semester I used whatever notebooks and folders I had as I needed them, which made for a mess in keeping track of my notes and work. This semester I used some office supply store gift cards to buy three pocket notebooks, and I'm re-using some binders I already had. I've taken stock of all the things I have already and I'm recycling as much as I can.
Step 2: Filing System
In the age of computers, the idea of a filing system seems a little outdated. But I'm not concerned with hanging folders so much as electronic ones. My filing system includes separate named folders in my Inbox so that I can file emails immediately and always find them later. Additionally, I have a set of folders for holding .pdfs and .docs for my future assignments in each class.
Step 3: Scheduling
My class schedule is loaded into Entourage (the Mac version of Outlook), so I won't be worried about conflicts down the road. I exported a version of it for my husband, so he also has my class schedule in case he needs it, and I imported a version of it to my work calendar at my internship to help set my hours for next semester. Keeping everyone informed of my schedule should prevent others from overloading my schedule.
For anyone else heading back to school in a few weeks, I'd love to hear your tips for organization and how you plan to stay on top of your semester!