Today I wanted to share with you my tips and secrets to acing your college classes and getting that 4.0 you’ve always wanted.
You can wither watch my tips to getting straight A’s in this video on our Youtube channel or keep reading!
1. Sit Up Front
This is very important to me because I try to sit as far up front as I can for each of my classes. For one, because I am blind and literally can’t see the 100ft giant screen in front of my face unless I do, and 2 because when I am up front I can focus better. I am more engaged up front. Usually you see people in the back on their phones or laptops not paying attention and that is because they are too far away to feel obligated to pay attention. This way I can feel bad for pulling my phone out in class because then my professor will for sure see me up front being disrespectful.
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2. Read the Book
I don’t care how you get the book whether that’s renting it, buying it, borrowing it, whatever, but you NEED to actually read the book. Your professors will tell you that on quizzes, finals, and midterms that lectures, homework, and the reading is fair game to be tested on! They are not lying to you! If you don’t read the book you will show up to class on test day and see a question that you’ve never even heard of before and get pissed because “the professor didn’t go over that.” uhhh, yeah they did. IN THE BOOK! So please read the book.
3. Take Good Notes
Note taking is a skill that you need to perfect. Notes are different for lectures and for readings, learn how to take both of them. If you are having trouble I’m sure there are resources on your campus to help you. You need to be able to listen and take notes in lectures being sure not to write down every single word because you won’t be able to. You need to be able to pick out key information and only write that down. Also learn to abbreviate words to make note taking faster.
Taking notes from a book can be more time consuming because you have all the time in the world to stop and write down complete sentences, but still don’t. If you buy your book annotate INSIDE the book. draw arrows and highlight key things instead of actually hand writing notes. If you can’t write in your book I suggest only writing down vocab IN YOUR OWN WORDS and then after the page write down a summary of what you read. This way you can see what you remembered and what you didn’t. If your book provides a little quiz or points you should hit through the chapters utilize it!
Sleep is probably the most important thing on this list, in my opinion. I am a psychology major so I learned a lot about sleep and how it affects you and your learning. After that I always get my full 8 hours of sleep EVERY NIGHT. And I know you may be asking how in the world I do that and I do it by setting a sleep schedule for myself and sticking to it. If I have 8ams then I am in bed by 10 o’clock reading, on my phone, whatever winding down and by 10:45 if I am not asleep already I will force myself to put everything away and close my eyes. I know you probably are thinking you’re going to miss out on so much by going to bed at 10pm but you’re not. You are prepping your brain for the day ahead and you will feel so much better waking up in the morning and throughout the day if you get your 8 hours!
5. Set a Schedule
I know I just told you to set a sleep schedule but I also want you to set a weekly schedule for yourself. Every Sunday I sit down at my desk and take a look at my assignment planner and my regular planner to see what I have ahead of me for the week. I then print out a weekly hourly schedule and fill in what I will be doing every hour for that week. This helps me stay organized and on track with assignments, work, studying, sleep, AND friends! Yes I add social time in there and time for me to hang out with my boyfriend. It isn’t just academic. If you set a schedule and write it out you are more likely to stick to it when push comes to shove. When friends ask you to come out with them to this event you can look at your planner and see that you are supposed to study from 1-3pm and you can say no. This will hold you accountable to your studies!
6. Time Management
Setting and maintaining a schedule will help with your time management skills but another aspect of this is determining when you should work on something and for how long. For example: Let’s say I have a 10 page paper due in 2 weeks and it is worth 50% of my final grade. Most people will initially freak the heck out and stress about it for 12 days and then spend the final 2 days bustin their but trying to crank out a 10 page paper pulling 2 all nighters. NOPE! NOT YOU! If you want a good grade that is definitely NOT the way to write your paper. You should break up all the tasks you have for that paper into smaller tasks and divide them among the 14 days you have to do the project.
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So- Day 1: think about what you want to write about. Day 2: look for sources. Day 3: read the sources. Day 4: pull out information you may want to use. Day 5: look for more sources. Day 6: read more sources. Day 7: pull out information you want to use. Day 8&9: weekend, take a break. Day 10: write up a rough outline of the points you want to make. Day 11: add some of your sources information to your key points. Day 12: write a rough draft. Day 13: take it to the writing center to get proof read or have someone else proof read it for you/ask professor for any help/questions you have. Day 14: write final paper! Day 15: Turn it in!
Look at how less scary that looks! It is so much more manageable when you break your assignments down like this.
You ultimately have to be dedicated to sticking to your schedule and sitting up front, taking notes, reading your book to be a good student. Just reading this post isn’t going to help you. I took you to the water, now you have to drink it for yourself. You have to want that 4.0 bad enough to stay dedicated! Write down your goals and hang it up in your room somewhere so you see it everyday so that you can’t slack off. Find a study buddy or have your friend help you sticking to stuff if need be!
8. 100% Effort
This goes hand in hand with dedication. You have to be dedicated to giving your 100%, 100% of the time. You have to be 100% focused on your reading when you are reading with no distractions! You have to be 100% attentive to your professor when they are lecturing to understand the material. You have to stick to your schedule 100% of the time and not make excuses for yourself. You CAN do this. It is just a matter of how much effort you will put into it.
9. Go to Office Hours
Your professors set these office hours FOR YOU to come to! Most of the time they just sit there eating lunch because no one comes. Then at the end of the semester they have 100 kids in there asking for extra credit or complaining about their F they got on the midterm. Take advantage of your professor’s office hours and go to them! If you have a large lecture hall it may be hard to ask questions or understand some things so go to office hours even just for a clarifying question and a little one-on-one. That will help you tremendously when trying to understand the material.
10. EAT! EAT! EAT!
I shouldn’t have to tell you this one because we all know about the freshman 15 but I am being very specific when I say “eat”. I want you to eat healthy! Healthy foods fuel your body so much better than cookie dough and popcorn. You need to eat a breakfast to be attentive in early classes. You cannot learn on an empty stomach. For your mental health to be at it’s best you have to be at your best physical health and that comes from exercise and eating the right foods. So eat away!
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11. Balance is Key
Learning to balance your school work with leisure is every college student’s biggest challenge. You must learn when to stop studying and give your brain a break and when you’ve been sitting on your butt to long and need to get to work. In your schedule you make for yourself designate leisure time too! Put in there when you’ll be hitting up the club and going to that frat party! I want it down there so you can also step away from your studies and go have some fun! Take it from me, my freshman year was so boring and stressful because literally all I did was homework, class, work, sleep, eat. I stayed in my dorm 24/7 and never went out with my friends. I didn’t have any fun! I was trying too hard for that 4.0. You don’t have to! This year I am dedicating more time to my friends and relaxing!
12. Review Nightly
You take so much notes throughout the day that you might already forget what you wrote from your last class because you’re in your next one taking even more notes. I suggest sitting down and looking through the notes you took for the day every night. This doesn’t mean study them, I just mean skimming through them and looking through them. This is your chance to really figure out if you understood what was going on because if you read your notes and go “what the heck is this?” then you know you need further explanation and you need to come to class with questions or go to office hours! Don’t wait until the day before the midterm to finally look through your notes and realize you really have no clue what your professor ever said.
13. Study Groups
Studying in groups is way more fun and way more helpful than studying by yourself-that’s if yall actually study. If you are in a group then you can ask others for help on something you don’t understand. If you are by yourself and you realize you are confused you will most likely feel discouraged and stress out about not understanding and just skipping the question or section all together. Hopefully if you create a good study group someone will know the answer and will be able to help. Yall can all fill in the gaps for each other! Also, when studying it is very helpful to try and explain something to someone else, basically teaching them about that thing because then you can see what parts YOU don’t know and don’t fully understand!
14. Study in Chunks
When you are studying for finals do not sit down for an 8 hour period and try to study that whole time. It is not healthy and it is not helping you. Your brain works in chunks. So study for 45 minutes then take a 5-10 minute break. Study for an hour then take a 5-10 minute break. This is the best way to study to really understand, stay focused, and keep your sanity. Break down your studying for finals like we did with our 10 page paper earlier. Break your sections down and study a section a day for 2 weeks before your final. Then spend the last couple days reviewing everything and studying in groups for extra help.
15. Prep for Lectures
The night before lecture try printing out the powerpoint slides (if you can) so that you can review them and see what the lecture is going to be about ahead of time. This way you can also take notes ON those powerpoint slides so that you don’t have to write down word for word what your professor is saying because you’ll have a blueprint of it already. Now all you need to do is fill in the blanks. If they don’t have the powerpoint slides available before class I still suggest looking at them afterwards to fill in any holes you my have missed while taking notes during lecture because your professor was going to fast or you just needed to slow down and take a second look at that one graph. If they don’t upload any notes at all I’m sorry and that sucks, but you can still prep for lectures using your book! Read the chapter that the notes are going to be over the night before and take notes from the book then take those notes to class and continue adding to them from what your professor says. This way is my favorite because then you don’t have 2 packets of notes from Chapter 1, one from lecture and one from the book, they are all in one packet stapled together easy to find and study!
Whew! That was a lot of info! I hope those tips helped you think about how you want to be a better student and get that 4.0 this semester! I wish you luck in your studies and please let me know if you already use any of these tips and if they work for you!