Getting Organized

There are many things students can do while still in school that will make life after college easier. Until it's upon them, many students don't realize how stressful finishing college can be. Completing that 32nd course means more than an end to tests, papers, professors, and so forth. For most graduates, it also means the beginning of many other more serious responsibilities - employment applications and interviews, full-time jobs, reduced or no more reliance on mom and dad, college bills to repay, less time to "play" with friends, and so forth. Waiting to plan for these events can make the last semester all the more stressful. Although some aspects can't be dealt with early, a few can. Preparing may help reduce anxieties and, hopefully, enable students to secure the jobs they want.

What should I keep as I go through college and after?

For the most part, once you complete a course, you probably won't need the textbook again. Texts become out-dated very quickly. If it's worth it to you, sell the book to another student or back to the bookstore. Unfortunately, used textbooks, no matter what the condition, don't command high returns.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. Psychology majors may want to hold onto texts they feel are in an area of study they enjoy and may pursue later. A familiar text to refer to can speed the finding of information later on. Your APA writing manual is a keeper. Students are likely to refer to this every semester, as well as after graduation should they have a writing assignment. Lastly, your general psychology text provides a good overview of many issues in psychology. Reviewing this text is step one of preparing for the psychology subject test of the GRE's.

Do I need to keep any course materials?

Yes. There are a few important things to keep. It is recommended that on a semesterly basis, students file away important papers in a notebook or storage box. Many of your professors still have a box or two of old course materials from their own school days. Course materials to consider keeping:

College Catalog:  Students must meet the college and major requirements specified in the catalog of the year in which they enrolled. It is the students' responsibility to know these requirements and to inform their advisors should misinformation be provided due to college or departmental changes. Additionally, should a student opt to transfer to another institution, the personnel of that new college may ask to see the catalog or parts of it.

Course Syllabi:  Course descriptions within college catalogs are deliberately brief and vague. The description allows students to get an idea of what the course will entail as far as content, but without specifics. The instructor then has a fair amount of liberty in structuring the course specifics.

Transferring:  When transferring, it is not unusual for copies of syllabi to be requested. Only by looking at the actual syllabi can registrars or department chairs determine if new students have met prerequisites and such. Most faculty members do not store old syllabi - hardcopy or on computer. Do not expect to be able to request one years or even semesters after completing a course.

Papers:  Though most student papers can be tossed, wise students will hold onto a few that received high grades or are particularly good examples of their writing ability. Sometimes when applying for jobs and often in completing graduate school applications, a writing sample is requested. Providing a paper previously read and edited by an instructor is a better hedge toward success than a spur-of-the-moment paper!

Notes:  If students have taken courses that may relate to their future employment positions, lecture notes and class activity sheets may come in handy. As an employee, you may be asked to take the lead in a staff meeting. As a graduate student, it is likely that you will be offered a teaching assistantship. As a TA, you will be presenting lectures or conducting recitations (discussions). Though your old notes may not be exactly what you need to do the job, they will provide a start.

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