10 Tips to Dominate in College : ‘Cuz As are Beautiful!
It is time to get into gear for a new semester. Classes start back for me on Monday. I’m really excited for the classes I’m taking this semester (Spanish, Sociology, History, Women’s Studies).
Getting good grades is really important to me now but this has not always been the case.
Anyone who knew me in high school (and middle school, for that matter) knows that I was a terrible student. I was a truant. I did not like school; I could not see the value. So I didn’t go. Somehow I made it out with my diploma (I can really thank my mom for that, without her encouragement I would have dropped out).
But now that has all changed. Maybe because I’m older and wiser. Maybe because of the financial burden of getting a higher education. Maybe because I really do want to be educated and I’m not restrained by the demands of a school board and required curriculum anymore.
Anyway, I want to share with you my strategies for scholastic success.
1. Sit in the front row (or the second row if you are unbearably uncomfortable in the very front). Seating is the first choice you will make in each new class. Choose the front. By sitting in the front you will not be as likely to be distracted. Not only will you be able to see and hear better, you will be surrounding yourself with students who won’t distract you and who are focused on being engaged.
Students who sit in the back are more likely to talk and text on their cell phones. Who do you think will be more likely to catch you up if you miss something?
2. During the first week, exchange contact info with two students in each class. I like to do this on the first day. After class ends, as everyone is gathering their things to leave, I turn to someone who looks reliable and ask if they would like to trade e-mail addresses. The key is to pay attention to your fellow students during that first class. I figure if someone is engaged while we are just going over the syllabus, that person will be engaged when it’s time to take notes.
I think this is so important. Not only is this a good first step towards making a new friend but this person might save your butt when you lose your class notes or if an emergency prevents you from attending an important class. This leads me to my next tip:
3. Attend every class you possibly can. Reading through a power point or reading someone else’s disjointed notes cannot take the place of class time. Duh, right? Professors get paid for a reason. Professors are not as forgiving towards students with poor attendance. So go, build a relationship with your instructor and get the information you need directly from the horse’s mouth.
This should be common sense but students get complacent when the weather is poor or they don’t feel well (read: hung-over). Here’s what I say to that: get over it!
There is one scenario, however, when I feel that it is acceptable to miss a class (outside of a legitimate illness or emergencies). That is when you know, without a doubt, that you will not be missing out on important information AND that you will spend that time studying for another class. The key here is balancing a class you’re doing well in with a class you are struggling with.
4. Keep you cell phone in your pocket or purse. Not only are phones a distraction but it is supremely rude to be texting while your professor is teaching. Most instructors have a no-cell-phone policy so don’t be a douche. Put your cell on silent and don’t look at it.
5. Repetition and studying efficiently. When comes down to the brass tacks of studying they key is to repeat, repeat, repeat. This is how the brain works. This is why we remember for the jingles from commercials: repetition. Even just glancing at something makes you more likely to remember.
What I like to do is briefly review my notes after every class. When it comes time to study for exams I have already prepared at least twice (the first time in class, the second time when I reviewed).
Be efficient. Studying for too long will fry your brain and you won’t retain as much information. After 45 minutes take a break, watch a YouTube video, listen to music, have a snack. But after 15 minutes have passed, get back to it.
My other tip is to go through your notes in reverse, starting with the most recent. The things you have most recently learned have not had as much time to soak into your brain. Go over these first and work your way backwards.
6. Form a study group. This is a good time to utilize the contact information you gathered during the first week. Reach out to your class mates and set up a time to meet. Try to keep your group to a maximum of three or four people. First of all, some people will always flake so don’t waste your time coordinating with too many people. Second, trying to get five or six people to focus on one thing will be inefficient (unless you break up into smaller groups).
PS. Don’t invite the class clown, he or she will just provide distractions and your group won’t get anything accomplished.
7. Research papers and semester projects. The key here is to do as much as you can, early. I know, I know, just thinking about big projects makes me want to take a big nap but you will thank yourself later if you prepare early.
When it comes to research papers, I create a folder in computer documents to store PDFs whose titles apply to the research topic. I don’t necessarily read these PDFs but I go ahead and save them so that when it comes to time to really dig in I’m not hunting for information. I also create a bookmarks folder on my web browser to save websites that will help me.
Do as much research as you can so that you will have plenty of information to write about and then pare it down to a specific topic.
8. Partner with your professor. Ask questions, send an email, and let them know by sitting in the front row and being engaged that you are putting in effort to do well in their class. Most professors want their students to do well and learn but they won’t be lenient or be as willing to make exceptions for students who never show and who don’t put in any work.
When taking notes, underline or highlight whatever your prof. stresses. You can bet that the definitions or information that they took the time to embolden will be on the test.
If you cannot understand an exam question, approach your instructor and explain why you are confused. They can point you in the right direction. I have even had professors who will confirm or deny if an exam answer is correct before I turn it in.
Professors are people too. They will be more likely to do things for the people they have relationships with (no funny business, lol).
9. Use every resource. Of course, there’s Google and even Wikipedia to supplement your notes and textbooks but I like to use my school’s library webpage. You can access it from home by logging in with your student ID. You can conduct a general search, go through the databases by subject or select a particular database to search in.
You can of course use this method to gather research for papers.
A few that have been very helpful to me are JSTOR and Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
There’s also YouTube! Everybody loves movies. They can make a subject more interesting and they can be a great tool for learning. I have watched great vids on history, lectures from Berkley and Harvard professors, and Ted Talks by the some of the very people that I was learning about.
There are also websites dedicated to students. I like Studyblue (a digital flashcard website), Dropbox (2 GBs of free cloud storage), and Khan Academy (free online classroom with a variety of subjects), to name a few.
10. Learn, excel, enjoy. Get excited. Be in the moment.
I repeated this mantra to myself over and over again during my first semester back in to school. I wrote it at the top of my notes, on my hand. It really helped to constantly remind myself of my primary goals for being in school.
These are some of the best practices I have found for doing well in college. There are no shortcuts to As, just less rocky paths.
So here’s to another semester! Good Luck 😉
Do you have any tips or tricks to getting As? Leave a comment. I really would like to know!
Not that you asked but…
- We’ve had record low temperatures in Metro-Atlanta this week, and yet it is time for “spring” semester
- I just received the gorgeous candle I ordered from Neiman Marcus. It’s called Crane Flower by Valuspa and I’m in love with it!
- Braveheart is on TV so I’m practicing my Scottish accent—poorly, I might add.
- I have successfully gone through all of my DVDs and sold about half of them to Movie Stop. I did the same with my CD collection but CD Warehouse only bought three of them….I guess I should try to sell the rest but maybe I should just give them to Goodwill.