How Paper Shapes My School Year

Sep 01, 2016
Yingchu WeiBy Yingchu Wei
AF&PA Intern, Indiana University

As summer break comes to a close it is time for students like me to go back to school; however, the transition from sleeping until noon to 8 AM classes is difficult for most of us. When going back to school, everything seems different – new classes, new classmates, new professors and even a new place to live – all mixed with feelings of excitement and fear you as you contemplate this year’s new adventure. As a student who has completed undergrad and is finishing graduate school, this feeling is not new for me and I still feel it at times. So don’t panic, I have 3 tips to help you start this year off on the right foot:


  1. Be Prepared! Print out your class schedules or write them in your notebook/calendar to keep them handy. I usually tape one copy above my desk and one in my folder. The more you look at it, the less likely you will end up in the wrong lecture hall during the first week of class. I know you could search it on your phone, but you probably already have a billion other things up on your phone to begin with. Have your schedule in hand for a quick glance and go.

    Print out each for your class syllabi so that you have access to everything that is due at your fingertips. You do not want to be the student who forgets an assignment and when you ask the professor for help he says “It was on the syllabus, you should have checked.” Syllabi are usually pretty long, so scrolling through your phone for page 16 of 31 is a hassle, just print it out and put it in the front of your folder for that class.


    Make sure you have all the supplies you need, like extra notebooks, post-it notes to bookmark important pages in your text books, and one of my personal favorites, note cards. Nothing beats having a stack of flash cards for when you need to memorize vocabulary terms.


    Also don’t forget to decorate! If you have to live in a room for a year, at least make it somewhere you look forward to staying. Make your new room a little more inviting by printing some pictures of friends and family and putting them on your walls, as the year progresses add more pictures of new friends and memories. Little things like this will brighten your day and make being in a new place easier.


  2. Be Organized. I know the first week of school is always a little bit overwhelming, so this is where a good old fashioned planner comes in handy. A great personalized paper planner is so useful and helpful. Writing down things you need to do a week in advanced helps you remember, color coding sections draws your attention to important dates, and putting your own personal creative touch on it makes it more engaging. Lay out your calendar with all of your exams, assignments, and of course vacation dates for the semester, and I promise you will feel both more accomplished and less stressed already. Planners are also a very helpful self-discipline tool to become better at time management, a skill that will help you in school and post graduate life immensely. Assuming you have about 6 classes you will need to keep all of those syllabi and handouts organized, separate different materials from each class in a variety of colored folders.

  3. Be Confident. When you take notes by hand you remember material better and can be confident in your ability while taking your first exam. Beyond coursework, I highly recommend bringing a personal journal with you to write down all of your experiences. Looking back at them and recalling memories of each year and being able to see how far you’ve come and matured is a priceless source of pride. My journals are my treasure, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

After packing all of those things in your bag, I believe you are well prepared for school. Take a deep breath. Good luck and have fun!