Organizing for Successful Study

About Sarah Blake LaRose

Sarah Blake LaRose is a freelance writer and a professor of Biblical Hebrew at Anderson University School of Theology in Anderson, Indiana. She is one of three blind academic scholars who received the Jacob Bolotin Award from the National Federation of the Blind in 2016 in recognition of innovative work in the field of access to biblical language texts and tools for people who are blind.

If you’ve registered for all your classes for the upcoming semester, you’re ready for the next step to success: organizing your time and materials. Organization is some people’s least favorite word, but it can save you hassle and stress and thus free up time and energy for studying and getting work done. Here are some tips for organizing for success.

1. Look for your books in RFBD’s Bookshare or Learning Ally. If your book is not available, try discussing alternative editions or titles with your professor.

2. Keep your textbooks in a specific place and label them. This will save you and your readers time because you will be able to retrieve the correct books quickly. If you have a scanner, you may wish to scan your own materials (especially if mathematics is not involved). Marking the first page of each chapter with a paper clip can be helpful if you plan to scan as you go along.

3. If you will be scanning and your chapters will not be read in order, you may find it helpful to mark your book for the chapters in the order they will be read, placing the paper clip for the first chapter nearest to the spine and working your way to the outside of the book.

4. If you tend to learn best from reading material in braille, prepare notebooks for each of your classes so that you can keep hardcopies of your notes. If you use a Braille Lite or laptop, you may find it helpful to create folders for each class so that you can keep track of notes, scanned material, etc.

5. If you will be using notes provided by a sighted note taker, use a similar approach to the one above for users of hardcopy braille. It will be important to have a place to keep copies of things which need to be read.

6. Find a way to keep track of handouts from class. Labeling them with a slate and stylus is something you can do in class as you receive your copy. If you are not a slate and stylus user, set aside some time for sorting through them with a reader and labeling them. Do not rely on your memory, no matter how good you think it is. You will invariably find your papers out of order, misplaced, etc. More time gets wasted re-sorting papers because of trying to identify the handout you thought belonged in the third slot from the back than you will ever realize.

7. Make a calendar listing the assignments and test dates for your classes. Some people find it helpful to have a single calendar listing assignments and test dates for all classes. Others prefer having a calendar for each class. Much of this information can be obtained from your syllabus.

8. Work effectively with your readers and store your recorded materials with labels or in their RFBD containers so that you are always able to find them quickly.

Now you are ready to get to work. In the article, “Working with Readers,” you will find some strategies for working effectively with readers. This is the third step to success and may be one of the most vital because ineffective use of readers can cause problems in many areas.

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