Back to School Organizational Tips for Graduate Students

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Jordan Bartlett, Student & Alumni

My journey to obtain a Master’s degree in Communication from Purdue University has nearly reached the half way mark, and the quest has taught me some useful insights that future students should be apprised of. I attribute my success as a student to an adherence to organization and time management strategies coupled with an eagerness to learn.

 As you begin your own journey towards a communication masters degree, I recommend the following organization tips for college students:

1. Create a folder on your computer that is dedicated to Purdue University.

I created a folder named ‘Purdue’ and the first document saved within it contains my financial aid credentials, Purdue login credentials and other commonly referenced information.

2. Create a separate folder within the master Purdue folder for each course that you are enrolled in.

Since I am in my fifth course in the program, I have five sub-folders within the master folder.

3. Within each course folder, create a folder for each week of the course.

Within each week’s folder, I save my response to the discussion post and a document containing my notes from the week’s readings.

This organization system is extremely helpful for me and aids in efficiency and learning outcomes. Whenever I need to consult one of my discussion posts for a previous course, for example, the material is just three clicks away.

In addition to a strict organization regime, it’s strongly advisable to employ time management and mindset strategies to achieve the best academic results. I have found that it’s best to:

1. Sign into the learning management system (LMS) at least once a day.

Stay abreast with the coursework, timelines and expectations. By staying engaged with the course and keeping it top of mind, your likelihood of succeeding in the course increases. According to Jo, Kim and Yoon (2015), “… adult learners accomplish successful completion of an online course when they maintain consistent awareness throughout the course” (p. 222).  For instance, it’s best to sign into the LMS at the beginning of the week to see what the weekly discussion post is about. By knowing what you are expected to write about, you will be more informed as you read the week’s assigned readings and can take note of certain sections that are pertinent to the discussion topic.

2. Have a drive to learn and succeed in the journey.

This yearning to excel has propelled me to complete all of the coursework with an unwavering determination. If you have a drive to succeed, your mission to obtain a master’s degree will be fruitful, enlightening, and rewarding.

Jo, I, H., Kim, D., & Yoon, M. (2015). Constructing Proxy Variables to Measure Adult Learners’ Time Management Strategies in LMS. Educational Technology & Society, 18(3), 214-225.

Learn More About How to Stay Organized in Graduate School

Jordan Bartlett is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.