How to Write an Effective Back-to-School Checklist

A back-to-school checklist is a useful, highly personal way to organize yourself for the coming school year. A checklist can help you navigate—and maximize—the weeks before the first day of school, especially as you ease out of summer classes, vacation, or work. Below are five steps you can take to write an effective back-to-school checklist.

Consult your school supplies list and summer assignments

Unearth the supplies list you received in June or locate a copy online. You likely own a number of the required supplies already; check your inventory of folders, paper, and writing utensils to see what can be used this year. Then make a shopping list of what you do need to buy. In addition, review your summer homework assignments and add to your checklist any essays, reading, or worksheets to complete before school starts. If you do have any summer essays to complete here are some great tips for writing an essay.

Refer to your calendar

Whether you keep a physical planner or consult an electronic calendar, consider important dates and schedule your time accordingly. Mark the first day of school on your planner, as well as any significant dates at the beginning of the year—tryouts for sports teams, school meetings, holidays, etc. Determine when you will finish summer assignments and when you will buy school supplies. This will help you pace your back-to-school prep as you also keep in mind the larger scope of the school year. These are some great tips to keep and use a calendar!

Consider extracurricular commitments

You may already be involved with an athletic activity or club. Plan around these commitments as you ready for the school year. Also consider those activities that you wish to join this coming year—clubs, performances, sports—and how you can mentally or physically prepare for them. Think about out-of-school commitments as well, such as prep sessions with an SAT tutor. The key to effective back-to-school planning is understanding where and how your academics and extracurriculars fit together.  

Include goal-setting

Make your back-to-school checklist purposeful by including manageable goals. Goal-setting may be intimidating at first, so it is crucial to set realistic objectives that interest you. If you would like to join the newspaper club, consider reading three to five news articles each week. If you plan to prepare for the ACT or SAT before school begins, consider creating flashcards to study each day. Adding goals to your back-to-school checklist can keep you focused as you approach the new semester. 

Keep it manageable

As with goal-setting, ensure that your checklist is a manageable length. Too many tasks will slow you and likely deter you from using your checklist, and too few tasks will not be productive. Write enough detail next to each item so you know precisely what must be done, but not so much that you have to read through a flood of information. Having a family member or friend look your checklist over for reasonableness is an excellent idea; they can help you identify unrealistic tasks and hold you accountable for those you do take on. 

An effective back-to-school checklist is not difficult to write, and it will help you focus on tasks that you must complete. Keep your checklist in an easily accessible place—such as your smartphone’s notepad or in your planner—and refer to it regularly while you enjoy the rest of your summer.