Getting all A’s in any school setting can be tricky but it seems so much easier in high school. You don’t have nearly as much personal responsibility and many times teachers walk you through every step. College isn’t like that. It’s up to you to make sure you get that 4.0 GPA. However, lucky for you, I have some awesomely fantastical tips to make this a bit easier on you.
Disclaimer: Even though these tips work for me, they may not work for you. You have to find what is best for you and roll with it. Everyone is different. I’ve seen some pass every class without ever opening a book and some that need to read every night for it to sink in. We all have different learning types and, if you know yours, you should definitely roll with it!
#1 Use. Your. Syllabus.
I really don’t think some people realize the importance of a syllabus in college. Your professors basically map out the entire semester in one little 2- to 10-page document (depending on the professor and type of class). Some include an entire course schedules with all assignments, projects, exams, etc. Some just include what chapters you’ll be covering when. Some just tell you when the midterm and final are. Whatever they give you, utilize it. If you ask them about it and it’s in the syllabus, they will likely tell you that you should already know and ignore your questions. Some professors are nicer than others but I’ve had many get upset with me for missing something in the syllabus and then asking about it later. If you don’t understand something in your syllabus, ask the professor. They will almost most always explain something to you if you’re just not sure what it means… as long as you don’t wait until the day before whatever that applies to happens.
#2 Take the lead. Always.
Group projects, man… you’ve had them, I’ve had them, we all have. They’re the worst. Not only because most of us are antisocial caterpillars but also because we don’t want to depend on others for a good grade. The great thing about it is… you don’t have to. Yes, it may require more work, but if something isn’t getting done, don’t just sit around and get a D because your partner didn’t want to do their part. Do it. I almost always have group evaluations whenever I have these projects and I always and 100% honest on them. Tell your professor who didn’t do what and, on the reverse side, who the best group members were! If you don’t have evaluations, go to your professor’s office hours and tell them that so-and-so isn’t doing their part. Normally they will either speak to them and or lower their grade on the project individually whenever the final grades are given (Sounds harsh, but people who don’t do the work don’t deserve the A that you and your best group member had to push out while the other two played on their phones during every group meeting.).
#3 Use some type of organizational method.
A planner, a to-do list, a calendar app, or whatever it may be, use something to organize your life! You will need this desperately in college. Actually, you’ll probably need this for the rest of your life after high school. Having your life organized keeps you from forgetting things that could easily be fixed with writing it down in a planner or saving a reminder on your phone and it also makes you get in the habit of having something to look back on. Even if you have the best memory in the world, you are bound to forget something… this will make sure everything, including feeding the cats, gets taken care of.
Side Tip: Make a to-do list every week to organize your weekly tasks and thoughts. This really helped me when I started getting closer to the end of the semester and big projects, daily assignments, and studying for exams all started piling into one week. It was difficult. I would make a list every time when things like this happened (first things are what needed to be completed first and in order to the least important item at that date).
#4 Find your best study method and stick to it.
I know so many people that say that you should use tons of different ways to study so you don’t get sick of something but I completely disagree with this. If I used something other than flashcards and note lists, I wouldn’t pass a single class. I tried the Quizlet app and, although it wasn’t the worst way I’ve tried to study, it didn’t do the trick for me because I didn’t have to physically write out everything. If I write it down, especially several times, then I’m bound to remember it. That’s how my brain works. Writing my notes in class, writing a “note list” of important things that can’t be in flashcard form, and then making flashcards helps me keep things fresh in my mind. Then studying those materials makes sure that I’ve got them locked in and ready for my exams.
#5 Don’t take notes with your computer.
Honestly, unless your professor says that you’re going to need it, don’t even take your computer out during class. It is a distraction more than anything. You’re going to want to get on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and who knows what else before you ever open that Word document and get a single sentence of notes written out. That’s just how our brains work these days – “Hi, I’m Kimberly, and I’m addicted to social media.” Taking notes on a piece of paper, in your favorite notebook, or whatever physical writing material you choose is the best way to avoid this. You’ll pay more attention to the lecture and presentations rather than what your best friend did with that girl you don’t like last week.
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