Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

math-studyingIf you’re in college, chances are you’ve already started your spring semester or it will be starting very soon.  One of the most difficult parts of college (besides the homework, of course) is managing a complex and ever-changing schedule.  If you think of each class as an individual job – making each of your professors your boss – you’ve got a lot of people to manage just to get through the week.

One of the best things you can do to start your semester off right is to leverage free online tools to help you manage your classes.  In this article, I’ll show you how to manage your schedule and get organized this semester with Google Calendar.

Step 1 – Collect Your Schedules

schedules2Before you can get organized with Google Calendar, you need to get all of your schedules together.  Start by locating an official copy of your semester course schedule (which is typically available from the same website you use to register for classes).  You also need to find schedules for any extracurricular activities, work, or events you plan to participate in during the semester.

Get as much information as you can for each of your events to make your schedule as robust as possible.  This includes dates, durations, locations, required textbooks – even teachers.  Don’t be afraid to include too much information in this step, you can always remove it later.

Step 2 – Identify Important Dates and Events

schedulesTry to identify any important dates or events that will occur this semester.  The highest priority dates will be for things like when tuition is due, last day to add a course, last day to drop a course, and the date when financial aid will be dispersed.

Ads by Google

If your university posts an official calendar, check that out and make note of any other significant events.

Step 3 – Get Organized with Google Calendar

Now that you’ve got the hard steps out of the way, you just have to put it all together.  Head over to Google Calendar (this requires a free Google account) to get started.

We’ll start by creating an individual calendar to hold your class schedule.  Creating an individual schedule gives you the option of toggling it on/off later on which can be handy if you’ve got a lot of events.  Click Create under My Calendars on the left side of the screen.

get organized with google

You will be given a variety of fields to fill in like the name and description of your calendar.  You will also be given the option of sharing your calendar which is great if you want to keep your friends or relatives in the loop.

calendar-naming

To start adding courses to your schedule, click the arrow next to your calendar on the left side of the screen and select Create event on this calendar.

calendar-newevents

Since most of your courses will repeat throughout the week, you can use the Repeat… checkbox to schedule patterns like Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday.  You can also set the last day of semester in the Until: box so your calendar will automatically clean itself up when the semester is over.

get organized with google

Before finalizing the course entry, I recommend adding extra information about the course in the Description field such as the instructor, textbook, and office hours.

use google to get organized

Keep adding calendar events until your schedule is full!  Don’t forget to add things like your work schedule or extracurricular activities.

Step 4 – Accessing Your Calendar

Now that you’ve got your entire schedule in Google Calendar, the last step is to make it available on any devices you own.  You can always access your calendar from any web browser, but one of the best ways to interact with your calendar is to get an application for your mobile phone.

Google Calendar currently syncs with many popular mobile operating systems such as Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Nokia/Symbian, and Windows Mobile.

Another great way to keep an eye on your calendar is to add it to your Gmail sidebar.  To do this, enable the Google Calendar Gadget in Gmail Labs.  If your course schedule calendar isn’t visible, click Options –> Edit visible calendars and enable it.

calendar-gmail

Step 5 – Notifications

It can be especially hard to keep track of your schedule at the beginning of a new semester, but Google Calendar can provide notifications via SMS and email to keep you on track.  To enable notifications, click the arrow next to your calendar and select Notifications.

calendar-notifications

If you’re really concerned about missing classes, you can enable reminders that can alert you before each class starts.  This could come in handy during the first week of class and can be easily disabled after you are familiar with your schedule.

calendar-reminders

Conclusion

Although it takes a little time to put it all together, having your schedule online and available on all your devices can be a great asset throughout your semester.

Have any tips for staying on top of your semester?  Share them with us in the comments!

Be sure to check out the rest of MakeUseOf’s articles about staying organized with calendars!

Image Credits : Evan Wondrasek, Brymo, Matt Biddulph.

  1. AriesWarlock
    January 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I have tried synchronizing my google calendar with gmail, but my events do not appear in gmail.

    • Evan Wondrasek
      February 1, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      If you've added the Google Calendar Gadget to Gmail, try clicking Options (just under the calendar gadget) then 'Edit visible calendars' and verify your calendar is enabled.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Del-vett Bob
    January 25, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    You didn't mention WebOs for the Palm Pre. It syncs w/Google Calender over the Web.

    I can make an entry in my dentist's office for my next appointment and by the time I get home I can access it on my laptop. It syncs the other way also (from my laptop to my phone) over the web.

    No cables, no bluetooth.

  3. holden caulfield
    January 24, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    *Disbursed, not dispersed.

  4. bonnie
    January 20, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    forgot to mention...I'd LOVE it if Google Calendar would allow you to repeat events on specific days like iCal...not just MWF or T/TH. I have classes that are Mon/Thurs, Mon/Fri, etc. right now my only work around is to create on on mondays that repeats weekly and then another on thursday that repeats weekly...not tragic, but its presumptuous to think that those are the only way things repeat. on iCal you can select any combination of days and have it repeat weekly, monthly, 2nd friday, 3rd tuesday, whatever you want.

  5. Bonnie
    January 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I'm on a MAC and was using ical, switching over was a little buggy but I worked it out. I have 9 different calendars. I too am a college student after being out of the classroom for over 20 years. I also student teach and have an 8 year old, am a girl scout leader and maintain a pretty active family life with a lot of sports.

    I have a calendar named 'school' with all my classes, and include student teaching. I did everything you did, and when I rec'd my syllabi I easily entered my exams and papers and even set up reminders at appropriate intervals ahead of time. When I was working on my thesis last semester, I met with my mentor every week but I also put in reminders in the same calendar to write 2 - 3 pages by the end of each week, when to start on my Works Cited page, when to edit previous work, etc. It was a lifesaver.

    I also have another calendar for my daughter and anything for her, including sports, scouts, field trips, etc. I can easily see when she needs a bag lunch, when cookie order forms are due, her tournament schedules, etc. She's almost 9 and I just got her using it, so now I 'invite' her to all of her events so they are automatically on her calendar.

    I have another calendar for 'household' that I use to keep a schedule of home and car maintenance, even down to reminders to take trash out so we're not chasing the garbage men down the street. The day each event shows up I can delegate the task to me, my husband or my daughter.

    Another one is for Girl Scouts, and I have a 'Personal' one for doctor appointments, social activities, etc. I also recently created a "What's For Dinner" calendar that repeats every day. I try to map out what we're having for dinner in advance to take advantage of leftovers and that 6 pm daiy panic of not having anything defrosted and relying on fast food.

    Lastly, I have one for bills...I put in a recurring date when things are due.

    I tried the google tasks, but it wasn't 'complex' enough for me. I'm a dedicated Remember the Milk user, and fortunately you can easily synch it to google calendar so my tasks pop up every day in my calendar.

    I access everything on my Droid. Love it.

    • Evan Wondrasek
      January 20, 2010 at 2:13 pm

      WOW, that is impressive! I bow to your organization skills.

      I agree about Google Tasks- I tried it for a few weeks and really had a hard time actually *using* it. I kept it up to date just fine, but the fact that it can only really be used from Gmail really held me back.

      I'm an avid Remember The Milk user and I use the Android app called Astrid to use it on my Droid :)

  6. jollyrogue
    January 20, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    heh, i never actually thought to put my college timetable onto my google calendar. So now i have it done and synced to my Hero :) awesome info.

    • Evan Wondrasek
      January 20, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      I know what you mean! This was the first semester I started doing it - I can't believe it took this long for how "connected" I think I am.

      I have mine synced to my Droid and use the CalWidget app to display it on my desktop, it's made a huge improvement this semester already.

      I'm currently working on Part II of this article which is about staying on top of your tests and assignments with online tools.

  7. Marcelle
    January 20, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I passed this on to my nephew who is a freshman in college. He can really use this! Also showed it to my high school daughter. I will be posting a link to on it on my facebook. Great use of google calendar!

  8. Drew
    January 20, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Also, try to convince your professors to create their own GCal that you can subscribe to in your own account.
    This way, if there are changes to locations or times, etc, you will be notified automagically.

  9. Jim Keplinger
    January 20, 2010 at 6:07 am

    I returned to school this semester for the first time in 20 years and immediately populated GCal with all my class work, building locations, instructors names, and more. It has been saving my bacon daily as I try to remember where this hall is from that hall etc. The reminders also get me out of the gym in time to make it to class. GREAT STUFF!

  10. jo cam
    January 19, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    I like google calendar but it is not ideal. There is so much more I need. It is not able to schedule something that repeats on a certain day of each month. It is difficult to sttach media files to certain events. The colors are lame.

    I use the attach a document tool, but I would really like to attach thumbnails of my documents to certain dates. In this visual world, a bunch of text links is just repelling to my sense of organization. It seems like it should be great, but I never really felt comfortable with it.

    • jo cam
      January 19, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      I forgot to mention, Pocketmod is a much better tool for those of us that need tangible reminders. Lists, the first sign of madness.....

    • Evan Wondrasek
      January 19, 2010 at 9:56 pm

      Hello,

      To make an event repeat on a certain day of each month, create a new event on the date you would like the event to begin, then click the 'Repeat...' button the same as this article, select 'Monthly' and choose either day of the month or day of the week.

      Hope that helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *