When you finish high school and move on to college, it’s easy to feel like most of your hard work is behind you. Or, at least, that’s what I thought when I entered my freshman year of college–throughout my entire schooling career, the general idea that had been taught to me was that I had to work hard in high school in order to get into a “good” college. So, I checked off all of my high school boxes–got good grades, did well on the SAT, did as many extracurriculars as I could cram in–and, once I got to college, I felt like I could just kind of relax.
This, I learned pretty quickly, was…not exactly the case. It is true that there is less busy work in college, fewer explicit assignments, less structure, and less to do, assignment-wise, than most people have in high school. But the magnitude of what college students are expected to do is greater, since there are fewer things to do overall, which means that every assignment you have ends up counting for a lot more. This is intimidating! But it’s definitely not impossible to make it work for you, either–you just need to know how to do it. So, check out these easy ways to make sure that you get all A’s (or, you know, good, respectable, grades) in college:
1. Actually show up to class:
When you first get to college, and realize that the attendance office isn’t going to call your mom if you’re so much as five minutes late to a class, it can be tempting to skip. But this is a slippery slope! Not only will you be missing out on potential participation points (more on that in a second), you’re potentially missing out on information that you won’t be able to pick up on from your friend’s notes or slides that get put online. Need a good way to motivate yourself to go? Calculate how much each individual class costs based on your overall tuition. Chances are, the number will be higher than you think. Make it worth it!
2. Participate in class, too:
If you’ve made all that effort to show up to class, why just sit there? A lot of professors have a participation grade as part of their grading rubric, so you’ll be boosting your overall grade every time you speak up.
3. Keep a planner:
And write down everything in it. Even if you think you’re the kind of person who can remember important dates and assignments without a planner, chances are good that you’ll forget something at some time. Use the planner as a backup.
4. Write mundane things in your planner, too:
As in, things like homework, hanging out with friends, and club meetings. This gives you an overall idea what your week will look like, so you can plan more exciting things around it without feeling stressed out.
5. Get to know your professors:
This depends on the size of the class you’re in–like, if you’re in a 500-person lecture, this might be tough–but if your class is a reasonable size, take advantage of it and make sure your professors know who you are. A good way to do this? Showing up to your professor’s office hours with a question about an assignment. (Make sure you actually have a valid question or concern, though–simply appearing won’t do you any favors.) This shows that you care about the class and, at the very least, will ensure that your professors will feel kindly to your name when they’re grading an essay or test of yours.
6. Don’t take super early classes:
I mean, I don’t know. Maybe you’re a morning person! But 8 AM classes tend to feel a lot earlier in college than they would have in high school, which means that you’re likelier to sleep through an 8 AM class than you would, say, an 11 AM class.
7. Try to avoid late classes, too:
Obviously, you might not always have a choice over this. But, if you can, try not to take classes that start after dark. It can feel disorienting to be in a class at, like, 7 PM, especially if you’ve been used to being on a solid 8 AM-3 PM school schedule from high school. So, for your first few semesters, try to stick with a solid schedule of mid-day courses.
8. Do extra credit:
If any extra credit assignment comes your way, do it. It probably won’t make your break your overall grade, but it can be nice to have a built-in cushion in your grade just in case an essay or exam doesn’t go as planned.
9. Know how to write a good essay:
Every class varies, of course, but you’ll find that there’s a pretty formulaic approach to writing papers. Once you crack it, apply it to all of your essays, and watch the good grades pour in.
10. Write out your class notes twice:
When you get home from class, try to rewrite the notes that you took in class. This sounds like a lot of work, but it definitely pays off in the end–it helps reinforce what you learned in class that day, gives you a clean copy of your notes, and makes you realize if there are any gaps that you need to fill in. This makes studying for exams later on much, much easier.
11. Try to limit your partying:
Sure, there will always that one person on your hall who goes out every night and still manages to do okay. But, unless you know you are that person (and most people aren’t, tbh) you need to set boundaries for yourself, since it can be easy to let partying get in the way of real life responsibilities. Obviously, you should definitely go out and have fun. It’s college! You’ll regret it if you don’t! But you’ll burn out if you go to parties all the time. Plus, parties tend to be less fun if you go to one, like, every night. Instead, try to limit yourself to weekends and maybe an occasional weeknight party if you have something to celebrate.
12. Study in the library, not your room:
It’s easy to get distracted in your dorm (it has your bed! And snacks!) which can make an assignment that should only take an hour drag on for three. But if you make the library your main study spot, you won’t really have anything to do except study, which will force you to be more efficient.
13. Designate a few hours each week to intensive studying:
If you have a morning or afternoon free every week, make a studying date with yourself. Treat it like a special occasion–get yourself a coffee, make yourself comfortable, and commit to being there (and actually doing work) for a few hours. Making studying a ritual will make it part of your habits, which might even make it….fun? It’s possible!
14. Write to do lists:
I looooove to do lists. Writing everything you have to do tends to make it feel a little easier to accomplish, and, of course, it feels great when you get to cross out each task that you’ve finished. So, every night before you go to bed, try to make a to do list for the next day. This way, you don’t have to waste part of your day making your list.
15. Make sure your dorm room isn’t disgusting:
It doesn’t have to be, like, one of those uber-extra Tumblr dorms. (Though, of course, it can be!) But if your dorm is a total mess, you’ll feel more frazzled in your daily life, which won’t help with your grades. (Plus, your roommate will probably resent you a little bit.) Just make your bed, clear out your clutter, and make sure there isn’t random garbage lying around. This will help you get a clear mind to help you set out to accomplish everything you need to do.
What do you think of these tips? Do you have any foolproof college study tips? Let us know in the comments!