For most people, college means total and complete autonomy over their time and choices. There's no one telling you what to do or how to manage your responsibilities. Yeah, the freedom is awesome, but the best planners for college students help you to utilize that freedom so you can get the most out of your experience — academically, socially, and personally.
Maybe you made it all the way through middle and high school without an agenda, or maybe you used one religiously. Either way, college planners are a whole different ball-game.
Up until 18, you likely had to keep track of your homework assignments. Everything else was scheduled for you by adults and automated bells. Now, you're solely responsible for juggling your classes, assignments, social engagements, club meetings, and probably your laundry schedule, too. You'll need a planner that can keep up, so look for spacious layouts, daily and weekly pages, and an academic format — that means it spans from at least September to June.
After that, picking the perfect planner for you is all about preference. There are loads of different styles, formats, and features; it all just comes down to your personality and organizational habits. Here are six of the best options for any college student, whether you're a minimalist, a goal-setter, or a creative.
1. The Overall Best Pick For A Well-Rounded College Experience
College isn't only about classes and assignments. Thankfully, this versatile planner also has space for social engagements and personal growth.
Pros: Most people's college experiences aren't just about academics — there are social and personal growth aspects there, too. That's why the Clever Fox planner is the best overall pick. It breaks down your weeks and months into structured pages so you can organize all your responsibilities, but it also has general to-do lists, goal-setting prompts, priorities, habit-tracking boxes, and ways to note your personal improvements. You get all that (plus stickers, a pen-holder, an accordion folder, and ribbon bookmarks) in a faux-leather hardcover. For $25, that's a pretty great value. It's also available in hot pink, and since both colors come undated, you don't have to worry about wasted pages or getting overwhelmed by rigid layouts.
Cons: Be careful with the pen holder and ribbon bookmarks — They've broken on a few reviewers.
2. This Budget-Friendly Option Has All The Essentials For Just $9
The weekly and monthly overviews stretch from this August to next July, so you get a full academic year's worth of organization for just $9.
Pros: If you're headed into the new semester on a budget, this is your best option. The Elan Publishing Company dated planner is designed for the student, as it spans from August 2018 to July of 2019. The weekly block formatting is simplistic, but has plenty of room for assignments and to-do lists. Then there's the monthly overview for long-term planning of dates, campus activities, and appointments. Best of all, it costs just $9, but despite the price, buyers say the laminate cover and spiral binding are "rather sturdy" to withstand a full year of use. It also comes in green, if you're not loving the blue.
Cons: This one's pretty small and simple — no extra features here.
3. If You Prefer Structure, There’s This Planner With Quarter-Hour Appointments
Thanks to its structured interior and sophisticated exterior, this planner combines practicality and sophistication. It's designed to help you schedule nearly every minute of every day.
Pros: Nothing says "mature college student" quite like this Lemome academic appointment planner. First, its faux-leather cover has a sophisticated feel to it — it even has a bookmark ribbon and an elastic band to keep it closed when you're on the go. More important, however, are the two-page weekly and monthly spreads that allow you to schedule almost every minute of every day. The dated monthly boxes are lined for in-depth appointment notes, and the vertical weekly columns are broken down into 15-minute intervals from 7:00 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. It also has a list of notable holidays as well as a yearly overview that spans 14 months. With a 4.8-star rating and over 550 reviews, this is one of the highest-rated planners available.
Cons: Some reviewers are dissatisfied with the durability, especially when left in the sun or carried in a sufficiently-packed bag.
4. This Full-Color Planner Is Ideal For The Creative Type
If most planners feel too stuffy, this one comes with coloring pages, bulleted to-do lists, blank sections, and a built-in sketch book.
Pros: So you're a creative person, and your typical planner layout usually feels just a little too stuffy. Good thing there's the Bloom Daily Planners all in one, which gives you six different functions in a colorful book that inspires you to "do more of what makes you happy." First, the semi-boring stuff: It has monthly and weekly spreads for your important dates and assignments, but at least they're undated, attractively formatted in full-color, and bulleted for the creative mind. Now onto the fun stuff: This planner also gives you coloring pages, a blank lined note section, grid paper, and a sketchbook section so you can let your imagination run wild. It even has a durable, protected cover and metal spiraling, so it'll stand up to all your adventures.
Cons: It only comes in one size — large — so if you have a small bag, it can be a hassle to cart to and from your classes. It's also one of your more expensive options.
5. For The Minimalist Who Likes Clean Lines And Wide Open Space
This planner doesn't have any frills — just clean lines, thick paper, and at-a-glance scheduling.
Pros: I'm the type of person who gets overwhelmed by unnecessary prompts and busy designs. The Essential academic planner is definitely made for the minimalist. Thanks to its simplistic layout and clean formatting, it leaves tons of room for neat, orderly scheduling. The monthly and weekly pages are printed on off-white paper that won't bleed through to the next, and the simple cover has a vinyl protective sheet over it to keep it looking like new all year. Since it's dated and has hourly scheduling from 7 in the morning to 8:30 at night, you can see all your appointments and classes at a glance. This one even comes in three different sizes — 5 by 8 inches, 8.5 by 11 inches, and 7 by 9 inches.
Cons: It has blank lined pages, but any extra features end there. It's also pretty heavy since the pages are so thick.
6. If You're Looking To Boost Happiness And Gratitude Alongside Productivity
This planner transforms more than just your academic life. It also has journaling pages, gratitude prompts, inspirational quotes, and a vision board so you can improve in other areas, too.
Pros: The Freedom Planner Pro definitely has room for appointments, assignments, and responsibilities — it even boosts productivity thanks to its monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly sections. That being said, this planner is best suited for someone who's looking for a larger transformation. It supports goal-achievement, gratitude, and financial abundance with its seamlessly-integrated prompts and undated formatting. In addition to a built-in journaling section, habit reminders, a two-page vision board, and inspirational quotes from famous people, you also get some additional bonuses: namely stickers and e-books to help you overcome procrastination and achieve goals. Most importantly, it's one of the few life-transformation planners that'll last you the whole school year — most others use a 90-day format.
Cons: It's pretty pricey (but the black design is $6 less than the colorful lotus, at least.)
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