And although I was carrying around one of these awesome weekly planners, what I lacked was a good system – like the bullet journal method – that could really handle everything that was going on during those crazy college years.
Lots of college students have said that they prefer using a bullet journal over a traditional planner, because they can use it exactly as they need. So here are the things I’d recommend for setting up a bullet journal for college.
College Career Overview or the “Four Year Plan”
Keeping track of your progress toward graduating in your chosen major can help motivate you and possibly even help you find ways to get there quicker. Your college likely has planning tools (including examples and worksheets) to help you create a four year plan, but putting your specific plan in your bullet journal makes it easy to access wherever and whenever you feel like.
You can write in any required classes first, then add your elective courses later as you enroll. As you progress through your courses, you can write-in what grades you received, how many credits you earned, and which graduation requirements you’ve fulfilled.
Bullet Journal Semester Overview
A semester overview in your bullet journal helps you see where the important dates in the semester are. Once you get your course syllabuses (and yes, you can say syllabuses in English), write down your quiz and exam dates, and also your due dates for any important papers or projects. You can color-code this spread by choosing a different color for each course. Use the same color for the same courses throughout your bullet journal.
Here, you can also include your professor contact info & office hours. Also, if you’ll be renting textbooks, mark down the due dates for when you need to return them.
Bullet Journal Class Schedule
A student timetable or class schedule is one of those things that’s almost too obvious, but seriously…. do it. Why? Because you’ll immediately stop worrying that you’ll be late for class, or miss a class, or go to the wrong class, etc. A bullet journal page just for your class schedule gives you a clear visual about how your time is laid out through the week. You can create it with bars to show each day’s schedule, or make little pie-chart clocks.
There are a few ways to track your study hours in your bullet journal. You can track the total hours studied per day, or track total hours of studying per class. Some classes will only give optional reading assignments and a mid-term and final exam, so you might want to create a special tracker for these classes to keep yourself on track with the reading. Don’t let those exams sneak up on you!
Rewards For Studying & A’s
Here’s an idea I just love. Before you even start studying, create a little page in your bullet journal for rewards you’ll treat yourself to for every 5 hours of studying, and for every A you get. Of course, you can change the hours-of-studying amount or the final grade you hope to get. Here are some ideas for rewards you could give yourself for these small steps towards your diploma:
- Purchase a new item of clothing you’ve been wanting
- Order a nice meal (whatever would be nice ‘n’ special for you)
- Have a 100% rest day – with the PHONE OFF *gasps!* (okay just let your mom know what you’re up to please so she doesn’t call campus police)
- Do something fun with your friends or significant other
- Get a mani/pedi or haircut at a salon
No spend fun
With college life being pretty hectic, it’s great to have some downtime. You can create a no spend fun bullet journal page to list some activities you can do to have fun without spending money. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Take a long bath or shower and catch up on your Zzzzzz’s
- Draw a picture of your current and future self in your bullet journal. Write a wishlist or other fun page in there.
- Free activities on campus (most colleges have a TON of these, so I recommend digging through your college website and writing down the date and location of all the things you actually want to do. My faves in college were free movies & concerts, football games, and free pizza events!)
- Take out a book or movie from the library
- Write an email or letter to your grandparents, siblings, or high school friends if you haven’t seen them in a while
- Learn to cook something tasty on YouTube (look for Cooking With Dog or Food Wishes, the best!)
- Play board games with friends
- If all else fails, Netflix and chill!
Spring Break To Do List
When spring break rolls around, you’ll have time to do some things you didn’t have time to do when school was in session. In order to not waste the break, I recommend creating a special bullet journal spring break page. It can be a brain dump or a to-do list, or a bucket list! How will you use your spring break?
Summer Brain Dump
This is to help you plan out how you’d ~ideally~ like your summer to go. If you’d like to take extra classes during the summer, do some traveling, or do extra work or volunteer projects, you can list all your ideas here in a summer brain dump.
The purpose of creating a brain dump is that you get your ideas out of your head and into your bullet journal, so that you’re able to stop thinking about them (for the moment) and focus on the current task at hand.
Later, you can take these summer brain dump items and schedule them into your monthly logs.
If you haven’t tried a brain dump before, I HIGHLY recommend just doing it. Give yourself a few pages and let your thoughts just flow. You’ll be amazed at how much clearer you can think afterwards. It’s a great little tool for anyone who gets easily sidetracked with distracting thoughts or procrastination. AND it’ll help you plan out the best possible summer for YOU!
Period Tracker / Pill Tracker
If you’re a gal, it’s a great idea to start keeping track of your monthly cycle in your bullet journal if you don’t already. Who wants to get surprised with their period when they don’t have any supplies? Nobody. That’s who. You can also track PMS or other period-related symptoms. The bullet journal is a great place to track medications, also.
Weekly & Monthly Budget
This was seriously something I wish I had been doing in college. Most college students are managing their money completely on their own for the first time, and trust me – the financial mistakes you make in college can stay with you for a long time. It’s my hope for you that you can avoid them altogether!
To create a college budget, I’d recommend writing a list of all your monthly expenses first. Your rent payment, food, tuition, books, supplies, and transportation costs are a good start, but do be scrupulous and try to think of any other expenses you know you’ll have. Be sure to include in this list any thing that you personally will be responsible for paying for from your own funds. Figure out how much money you’ll need every month (and it could be different for different months) for these expenses. If you’re working part-time to pay for tuition or other expenses, it’s a good idea to know how much money you need to earn each month.
Also, create a weekly budget for groceries and extras. This is just how much money you’re allowed to spend on food and anything else. Every time you spend money, log it in your bullet journal.
Want a fun way to track your progress on a large assignment and reward yourself for your hours of hard work? How ’bout a productivity mandala? It looks kinda fancy but it’s actually super simple. It starts as a small circle in the center. Every day, you add a simple pattern around the central circle. Then you fill in the day’s pattern with a color that represents how many hours you worked on your taskes. So if you spent 1 hour, color it yellow. If you spent two hours, color it blue. Etc. You can choose which colors you want to represent for what number of hours. If you have a large project, like an important final paper or thesis, you could do one of these for that!
College life is busy. Between friends, classes, work, and personal care, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Bullet journals are the perfect tools for college students to keep their lives organized. You’ll be able to keep track of all your to-do’s, assignments, schedule, health, and anything else you want to stay on top of. You don’t wanna be one of those students who completely falls apart because mom and dad aren’t there to get your butt off to class at the right time, amirite? Plus, writing everything down just helps your brain relax more. I hope you’ll give it a try!