When I was in high school, I always got the basic planner the school handed out every year. It was very simple, and was only ever used for keeping track of assignments and tests. And, honestly, I barely actually used it. I don't know how I kept things straight in my head, just remembering when assignments were due and studying for an exam only when my teacher reminded the class we had one coming up.
Now thinking about how I managed all that throughout those 4 years stresses me out! How was this Type A gal that laid back?! Maybe I was simply content with all the organization I had to do in my head each week? No idea.
BUT, when I got to college I realized the importance of weekly planners. 5 classes with very different schedules of assignments due either online or in person, presentations, quizzes, and exams, plus an ever-changing work schedule... I would have drowned in my disorganization within the first week without my planner!
So, I got down to it. I researched the best student planners for college, and decided to start with a simple weekly and monthly planner. My ease of organization has increased ever since!
In this post, I discuss how I came to find the 2 Best Student Planners for College & Grad School: Day Designer Academic Flagship Planner and Erin Condren LifePlanner. You'll discover why it's so hard for me to choose between them each year! Share your favorite planner at the end :)
Y'all. This is such an amazing planner. You'll notice Day Designer planners in pictures all throughout my site because they were the first brand of planners I ever bought. I have never had one of their planners that I didn't love. This is why they make it into the competition of the best student planners!
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For the past few years, I've been partial to this black & white striped pattern. It's simple yet chic, and I felt successful from the moment I picked it up! But the best part about this planner is what comes on the inside.
Goals & Intentions
The Day Designer Academic Flagship Planner has a setting goals page as well as a page that helps you turn those goals into intentions. You outline your goals for the year to come in quarterly intervals at 3 months from now, 6 months, 9 months, and one year from when you fill this out. It's a way to keep you on track and outline your year ahead. The very next page helps you turn those goals into intentions by breaking them down into further detail. You can check back whenever you'd like to note your progress on each goal. It's a fantastic way to keep up with your goals and to not let them fall by the wayside!
I LOVE this planner even more because of this page right here. It helps you think about what you currently spend your time and money on, and then it allows you to think about how you would actually like to spend your time and money. It lays out numerous sections of your daily life (i.e., family, friends, physical, emotional, volunteering, clothes, car, etc.) for you to fill out as you please. I cannot exaggerate enough how much this page has made me reflect on how I currently live my life, and how I wish to spend my time and money to better myself in the future.
Values, Passions & Strengths
Day Designer is also wonderful for including this diagram in their Academic Flagship Planner. They discuss how these 3 factors are reflective of your personality and the way you live your life. The designers at Day Designer are all about empowerment and the bettering of ourselves in our daily lives and it is so fantastic!
Daily, Weekly, & Monthly Planner
My absolute favorite part about the Day Designer Academic Flagship Planner is how they set up the actual planner part! Each day is laid out by hour, and includes things like to-do lists, what you have due that day for class, a place to fill out how much money you make and/or spend that day, dinner plans, reminders, notes, and daily gratitude. On the weekend pages they have a portion at the bottom broken up into the coming weekdays. It allows you to look at the week ahead and write down reminders, due dates, plans, etc.
I have to say, one of my favorite things about the Erin Condren LifePlanner is how many colorful, fun options she provides for your planner cover! This is the planner I currently use, and taking it out of my bag each day brightens my day! It is so colorful and cheerful. I love it! Check out the dozens of cover styles HERE.
I hadn't heard of Erin Condren planners until my junior year of undergrad, but you'll quickly see why they are a competitor in the best student planners!
12 vs. 18 Month Planner
The EC LifePlanner allows you to choose 12 or 18 months for your planner. I got the 18-month, pictured below.
All of Erin Condren's planners come with incredibly inspirational quotes written all throughout the planner! In the picture below you'll see a folder page with one of her motivating quotes right on the holder!
From the very beginning, quotes are all over the book. Before you even get into the yearly and monthly calendars, you've got a great quote to read whenever you need some motivation!
The EC LifePlanner has a full year laid out for you by individual dates right in the beginning. You can mark important dates, using different colored Erin Condren markers for due dates/holidays/birthdays, etc.
At the end of the planner, EC allows you to plan for the coming year. You can map out your goals and intentions, and carry them over into your new planner!
Weekly & Monthly Planner
The monthly planner allows you to add notes, keep track of holidays (and even moon phases), get a monthly view of upcoming school activities and due dates, make notes, and take a look at the next month.
The Erin Condren LifePlanner can be completely customized to fit your style of organization. One of the best things about these LifePlanners is that you have 3 options to choose from for your weekly layouts. You can have a general writing area for each day with the ability to create a to-do list, reminders, appointments, etc. in a column to the right of each day. You can also have the days broken up into 3 sections for morning, mid-day, and evening. The third option is to break each day down by the hour. Check out all of the LifePlanner layout options HERE.
Another one of my favorite aspects of the EC LifePlanner is the option to add a Wellness Log! This page is AWESOME. You can move it around your coiled LifePlanner so that you can view it each week, or you can keep it popped right inside the front cover for an easy view. Personally, it serves as a bookmark to easily get to each week, and it keeps me on track with planning my meals and workouts ahead of time. I am so glad I got it! On the back, it even breaks down target heart rates and BMI. Grab it HERE!
Extras & Accessories!
Remember those motivational quotes? These are the extras that keep me coming back to EC. They are all over her planners! In the LifePlanner, there is one before every single month. As you enter each new month, you read a quote that gives you inspiration and motivation to succeed and be your best self!
All of the above items come with the LifePlanner! It honestly took me a while to find them when I bought my first LifePlanner in undergrad. I just assumed I had to buy stickers separately, but that is definitely not the case! Erin Condren really hooks ya up with all her perks, no matter which of her planners you choose! Plus, if you're a first-time Erin Condren member, you can get extra goodies & samples like the ones pictured below :)
As you can see, both of these planners have great organizational techniques and fantastic layouts. They are a tie for me on my best student planners list! This is the first time I've bought the LifePlanner with the daily layout as it is, and looking back at my last year's Academic Flagship Planner layout has me missing it just a tiiiny bit! The decision for next year's planner is going to be a tough one!
Which planner is your favorite?! Drop a comment below :)
P.S., are you looking for tips on organization throughout the grad school application process? Check out 11 Best Organization Tips for Grad School Applicants!