In just about every class, there will be some form of assignment each day. Often these assignments can have a major influence on your grade. Even if the assignments are only worth 10% of your total grade, which translates into one letter grade.
Managing assignments involves a three-step process
- Recording the assignments when given in class.
- Transferring the assignment to a calendar.
- Completing the assignment and turning it in.
Assignments are normally not given as “busy work” in college. They are meant for you to practice and review the new material, so make sure you do your assignments even if you do not have to turn them in for credit. They usually don’t take up too much time and are vital to your success. They help to teach you the material and get you into the habit of doing consistent work for your classes.
Most first year students think they can rely upon their memory to manage their assignments. This is a false sense of reality. Always write your assignments down in a planner. It will only take about a minute or two and there is a guarantee that you won’t forget that you have an assignment due. Your planner needs to be nothing more than a small notebook where you record assignments. You should record the due date and indicate where you can find additional information on the assignment (e.g. the course website, your notes).
Some students would rather record the assignment information on an electronic device. That works also. The key is the discipline of actually making some reminder of the assignment.
Once you get back to your room after your classes are over, you need to transfer the assignments to a calendar. The calendar is generally a dry erase board that you can record up to four weeks of assignments. Once you have finished one week of assignments, you erase that week and record the dates that are four weeks into the future. A helpful way to keep track of assignments and their importance is to color code the assignments. Use a different color for tests, papers, quizzes, and homework. This will allow you to plan your time according to what needs to be done first.
The primary benefit of the calendar is that you can see the big picture of what you have to do. This is especially important in that you will have some weeks when you have a lot of tests. You will need to work ahead on assignments due these weeks in order to give yourself enough time to study for tests.
Once you have the assignments recorded, the next challenge is to actually do them and get them turned in. Developing the discipline to do the assignments is covered in another one of these notes (Developing Assignment Discipline). But there are a few things that you can do to help you in doing the assignments:
- Do the homework for the subject that you like the most or that comes easiest to you. Getting those assignments out of the way early can allow you more time to work on assignments for classes you might not particularly like.
- Start doing assignments as soon as you get them. This will help reduce the risk of forgetting to do an assignment or from just starting that assignment the night before its due.
- When you complete the assignments, place them in a simple folder in your book bag.
- Before you go to class each day, look at the calendar again to ensure that you have every assignment due that day in your folder.
- Finally when you complete the assignments, draw a line through them on your calendar. As simple as this act seems, students find that drawing a line through the assignment gives them a sense of accomplishment.
When you go to each class, get out your folder and make sure to turn in the assignment. Also make sure your name and section number are on the assignment. Every semester there are hundreds of points from assignments that never got credited to students because they didn’t put their name on them. Every professor will tell you that they often hear the excuse that “I did my homework, but I forgot to turn it in.” An assignment not turned in is worth 0 points.
Every successful college student will develop some system like the one illustrated here to ensure that they get the full credit for the assignment portion of their classes..