How To: Back to School Organization

I have a confession: I really love school supply shopping. Finding color-coded folders, brightly patterned planners, and fresh new pens brings me more joy than I’d care to admit – particularly if my brother’s around to make fun of me.

I view school supply shopping as an opportunity to really prepare myself for the upcoming school year. Organization allows me to get started on the right foot when it comes time to go back to school in August or September and makes my transition to the fall easier. I’ve shared my top tips for beginning of the school year organization so that you too might enjoy the transition a little bit more – or at least you’ll feel more prepared.

  1. Color code your supplies! By requiring us to buy different colored supplies for different subjects, my elementary school teachers taught me an important lesson in organization- although sometimes it was quite difficult to find that specific orange folder to match my reading book. Color coding based on school subject (blue for science, red for writing, green for history, etc.) makes it easier to keep all of your notes in order. That way, when it’s time to grab your notes for your next class, you can just reach in to your locker, backpack, or desk- no need to check labels!
  2. Buy lots of notecards, post its, and other study tools. It’s never fun to start your midterm preparation by realizing you have literally no materials to make a study guide. Make sure you’re prepared with everything you will need, whether that’s highlighters, flashcards, or extra pads of paper!
  3. Start studying early. I know it seems like way more fun to shoot hoops or grab ice cream with friends instead of hitting the books, but studying in advance of your exam will relieve the stress associated with cramming at the last minute. Brush up on your time management skills ahead of time, and actually stick to a study plan. Besides, cramming isn’t actually effective according to psychology, and you’ll have plenty of time for those basketball or ice cream plans after you ace your test!
  4. Outline your notes each week. This is a strategy I learned while taking a really tough biology course in college. If you’re in a class where you have to learn and retain a ton of information, making outlines of your notes each week can help you stay on top of the material, identify gaps in your understanding, and prepares you for upcoming exams. It makes it much easier to create a study guide at the end of the unit (hint, hint, tips #2 and 3!) since you’ve already summarized the important information from each week. I personally really liked writing out the notes using colorful pens and drawing examples for different ideas so that my eyes could easily follow the flow of ideas. Plus, research has shown that physically writing out your notes can help with retention of information!
  5. Conquer and divide – the sections in your notebook. Dividers are one of the most essential supplies to keep yourself organized. Label them depending on your needs for that particular subject. For example, for math I often label them for quizzes, homework, practice problems, and notes. This can help you sort through your notes quickly, enabling you to find what you need with less effort!
  6. Make sure your summer work is done before you get back to school. I can’t stress this one enough. For those who have summer reading or assignments to do, just do them early. I used to try to get mine done in June or July so I had all of August left. But even if you don’t want to do that, just finish your assignments before you get back to school, even if they aren’t due until the end of September. You’ll have new work once you start your new classes, and you won’t want to have to think about the book you could’ve read over the past few months instead of watching your favorite TV show multiple times.
  7. Start getting ready to wake up early during the summer. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that you begin going to bed slightly earlier and waking up slightly later at the end of the summer to adjust your body to your new schedule. We all know sleep is important, so why not help your body transition successfully from the nocturnal schedule you keep over the summer?
  8. Make friends and get their phone numbers (or Instagram handle or Snapchat name). Whatever you use to keep in contact with your friends, use it. Write down your friends’ numbers at the very beginning of the school year. I always forget new teachers’ policies regarding homework (even in college), so having a friend to text for clarification is invaluable when getting adjusted to a new routine.

Have you tried any of these tips? Do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

One comment

  • High school! What a fun time 😊 If I can suggest one thing is super gluing a sticky note to the front inside of your binder. This way you will always have easily accesible sticky notes! Saved my life in my first college program.


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