Students talk about how they stay organized during their college life
College students have a number of obligations to keep track of, and students have various ways of staying on schedule. Keeping track of academic and personal responsibilities takes many forms — meal planning, scheduling around work and using a planner are just a few of these.
As a Resident Advisor (RA), third-year animal science major Isis Vasquez has multiple responsibilities, including conducting facility checks and occupancy reports, being on call at least once a week and scheduling events for her floor and building. For her, there are multiple parts of her day-to-day life that she likes to keep track of, and she has a three-pronged system. She uses a wall calendar for her RA duties, midterms and long term assignments. She combines this with a Google calendar that contains important dates for all the RAs and a planner that she describes as her most important organizational tool.
Vasquez says that organization is all about choosing to stay on top of things, but she understands that some students may have difficulty with it when in college. She credits the AVID program she was part of in her high school for her organizational skills. She learned note-taking skills and the importance of using a planner properly, which she cites as a critical part of succeeding in college.
“You can’t tell anyone how to [organize], it has to come from [themselves],” Vasquez said. “You can give them all the resources, it’s whether or not they’re going to apply them.”
Meal-planning is another critical part of a weekly routine for third-year computer science major Abhay Sawhney and many other students who do not have a meal plan with the Dining Commons. Sawhney bases his diet almost exclusively on his workouts.
“Earlier, I would work out and head to the DC and eat until I couldn’t eat anymore,” Sawhney said. “Now, I kind of do the same thing. I’ll go to the gym and then I’ll take a box of chicken from the fridge and zap it in the microwave.”
On Sundays, Sawhney purchases chicken or beef, which he then cooks, three pounds at a time with different spices for different batches. He stores half in the fridge for the first three days of the week and stores the other half in the freezer for the rest of the week. With internships and school obligations, he stays on track with his Google calendar.
“I let the Google calendar take care of everything,” Sawhney said. “Whenever something important comes up, I’ll just put it on my calendar. Generally when my calendar is filled up, I don’t have to think about what I’m doing because it’s telling me what to do at any hour of the day.”
Second-year biopsychology major Lillian Wu also has to meal plan, she shops for groceries on Sundays. She tries to cook meals that are relatively simple — this is the first year she is cooking for herself, and she tries to create well-rounded meals with sufficient carbs, protein and vegetables.
“It was kind of hard to learn cooking at first,” Wu said. “A lot of it I’m still learning. There’s a lot of easy recipes online, and cooking is a lot easier than people say it is — and a lot cheaper than eating out.”
Wu had a seven-day meal plan during the fall of her first year, but then a five-day meal plan in the winter and spring. With that, she ended up eating out, and therefore spending, a lot more. With the meal planning that she has started this year, she feels that she’s more organized.
“It’s given me structure to my life,” Wu said. “I plan my day very thoroughly as opposed to last year where I kind of went, ‘I’ll just come back and eat at the dining hall whenever I’m free.’”
Another obligation that many students have to plan around is having a job. While some jobs have strict hours, first-year sustainable agriculture and food systems major Christian Morgan’s job as a student lab assistant allows her flexibility, which she sees as a benefit, especially in terms of scheduling classes. This quarter, Morgan tends to work in the morning when she’d otherwise be sleeping in, as she says it’s the best use of time that would otherwise not be spent doing anything useful.
“I schedule my classes first and then I look for the gaps in that space and then I’ll do the job,” Morgan said. “It’s an internship with the school. They’re very flexible, so I come in when I can and whatever free time I have, I go to work.”
As an RA, Vasquez has had some of her residents ask her for help with time management and organization; when they come to her, she shows them her system.
“I’ll show them my stuff and then they’re like, ‘Oh wow that’s so nice, I can’t do that,’” Vasquez said. “I’m like, you can, but [organization]’s a choice if you want to … It’s hard, but it feels good.”
Written by: ANJINI VENUGOPAL — firstname.lastname@example.org