With the summer coming to an end, we're thinking about back-to-school time here at Life of Lovely. We had originally planned to share some advice for recent high school graduates going off to college for their first semester, but we ended up with way more than we had thought. We're going to split it up into two posts starting off with advice on how to get good grades. Jennifer has a medical background with lots of science and health and a bit of nutrition, and I have a liberal arts background concentrating on languages, literature, and international studies, so we hope that there's something here for all majors.
1. Go to class. (Obvious, but a surprising number of people skip class, and then panic later when they realize they are going to fail the course.)
2. Talk to your professors if you are struggling. Professors have office hours for a reason. So, make an appointment to speak with them about points that you do not understand during class. Do not wait until after the test.
3. One of Jennifer's professors assigned a book called the The A Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades for class. If you want to make A's, read it and follow it.
4. Take advantage of tutoring services like the writing center and supplemental instruction especially for extremely difficult classes.
5. Find a study group. Studying with other people can help you understand the material.
6. On the other hand, if group studying is more distracting than helpful, study alone. You don't have to go to a group study session just because everyone else in your class goes.
7. Try out studying in different places. Can you study well in your dorm room, in the library, in a coffee shop, or another place around campus? Figure out where you study best.
8. Get a planner. Use it.
9. Google chrome has an app called Stayfocused that kicks you off social media. Set a time limit for yourself if you know that you will waste hours on social media when you should be using your time in better ways.
10. If your professor assigns reading to be read before class, actually read the assignment. The material will make more sense when you go over it in class. Plus, you will remember the material better when test time comes.
11. Pulling all-nighters is usually not effective.
12. Study every day. It doesn't have to be a lot every day, but a few minutes looking over materials means that you will be less stressed before a test. Look over your notes the night after class.
13. Set goals for each study session so that you know you have accomplished something when you finish.
14. Do not wait until the last minute to write a paper. If you get stuck every time you try to start typing, then write an outline or some ideas on paper first (you should probably start out by doing this anyway). Start early and let your ideas have the time they need to develop.
15. The best way to learn material is to teach it to someone else. Since you probably don't have a willing audience for this, here's an alternative that works incredibly well. You can write on mirrors with expo markers, so use your mirror as a board, and pretend that you are teaching a class. It is perfectly ok to say things in your head instead of aloud if you feel silly. Your roommate(s) will most likely appreciate it if you use the teaching method while they're not in the room.
16. Schedule your studying time for longer than you think it will take. Because it will always take longer than you think it will take.
17. For literature classes, take notes while you read. These notes should include basics like plot, setting, characters, and theme as well as points you found particularly interesting. If you can't think of anything, then pick something and ask yourself why it's in the passage. You want to have something to talk about during literature discussion.
18. Faculty advisers are really helpful, but make sure that you keep up with what you need to take on your own too. Have a list of the required classes for your major. Mark off the classes as you take them, and have a general plan of how you will fulfill all the requirements.
19. Keep extra scantrons and blue books in your backpack. You do not want to forget to get one before the test.
20. Other things to keep in your backpack are highlighters, an umbrella, extra pencils, and post-it notes.
21. Also, while we're talking about it, keep a water bottle and a small snack in your backpack.
22. Computers can be helpful for taking notes in class. However, if you know that you will spend all class period on pinterest (or your preferred social media site), then forget the laptop in class and stick to paper.
23. Sit in the front during class. If you are not comfortable sitting directly in the front, sit a few rows back. Just don't get lost at the back of the classroom.
24. It's easier to start off with a high GPA than to try to raise it later.
25. You might want to try hand writing your notes in class and then, typing them up later. You'll get to review the material a second time, and your notes will be in a format that's easier to study. (Neither of us did this, but it worked well for some of my friends.)
26. You can try studying the way you did in high school, but if it doesn't work, then you need to try something else.
27. Stay off your phone during class. No matter whether the class is boring or not, it's just rude.
28. Ask for advice from people who have taken the course before. They may be able to tell you what to expect to work the hardest on and what strategies worked for them.
29. Over prepare for the first big grade in each class. You'd much rather spend too much time studying at first, than be forced to make an almost perfect grade later to bring up your first grade. Plus, you'll be a whole lot more stressed during finals weeks than during midterms.
30. Remember that you are capable of doing well. Good luck!
Want some more tips for college? Check out our collection of posts about college.
Do you have advice of your own for success in college? Share them with us and our other readers in the comments.