One of the most frequent questions I’ve gotten in the past few weeks is how I organise my notes for college. This is just my own little way of organising things, it’s what has worked for me personally. It might be totally different for you. Trying a few different things will help you figure out what works for you. This system might even change for me in second year, change again in third year..it’s all about adapting to what you need.
So first thing I look at is my main folder. For now, I use one giant ring binder for each semester. Within that folder I have a few dividers to keep my notes for each module separate.
In each module section I have the module descriptor, so I can keep track of what exactly I should have done and what’s coming next. It’s especially useful for figuring out which topics I need to revise at the end of the semester. I print off almost all of my notes (I swear I do love the planet but I just can’t read off a screen), pop them in each section, and try to make one page summaries of each piece as we finish covering them in class to make revision easier.
As well as all these sections for each module, I keep a calendar at the very front. I buy a pack of week-to-week sheets from Flying Tiger (see the picture on the right below). Because our timetable is constantly changing it’s a much easier way for me to keep track of where I need to be. I write in the topics we cover in each class at the end of the day. I keep track of my placement hours, extracurricular activities, and study plans in these weekly charts too. I also have the full year plan at the very front, so I can look ahead to placements, exam weeks, breaks, anything.
I put together all of my assessments in one document which I keep near the front of the ring binder. It reminds me of the assignments every time I open the folder, and lets me keep track of deadlines and learning objectives.
For my every day notes, I try to keep things as small and light as I can. It saves my back and leaves more room for snacks in my bag too. I bring one plastic envelope folder, which I aim to sort out the night before so that I can enjoy those extra few minutes in bed instead of pulling apart my ring binder looking for the right notes. In writing this post I’ve had the idea that maybe I should keep my weekly planner pages in that folder too – I’ll try it out and see if it makes any difference.
We only have one or two written assignments per semester, so I keep those in separate folders. I always end up printing heaps of research for assignments so I prefer to keep them out of my regular class notes. If I need to refer back to them for something it’s a little easier to pull out the right part.
And then I have my giant placement folder. I keep copies of my placement evaluations and learning objectives in here, as well as copies of my clinical skills book. I have a record of every day that I attended placement, the hours I worked, and the names of my preceptors, as well as the guidelines for my scope of practice for every placement. If I get any handouts or take any notes I keep them in here as well. The folder is pretty full already after just one year so I might need to take a few bits out and store them somewhere else. Remember, it’s all about adapting to changes during your course!