I’ll be honest… it took me awhile to figure out how to study for my college classes. Although I eventually figured it out and was able to get straight A’s in my college courses during the last year or two, there were definitely some semesters that were quite subpar.
Looking back, I realize that I could have done so many things differently. It’s clear that the methods began using in graduate school worked better (I finished with a 4.0 GPA), but I wish I would have started using them sooner.
That’s why I’m here to share my secrets to getting A’s in college so that you can have a strong GPA by the time you graduate. It doesn’t matter if you are a freshman who is just starting out or a senior who is a semester away from graduation… these tips for getting good grades can help you in a bunch of other aspects of life as well.
Are you ready? I’m going to start spilling them out right now…
Read the Grading Rubrics and Have Them On-Hand When You Complete an Assignment
Y’all, I am appalled at the way I used to write papers. Sure, I still got B’s in most of my classes toward the beginning of my college career, but I definitely wasn’t putting forth my absolute best effort. Why?
Because I wasn’t following the grading rubrics like I should have.
These rubrics are your lifeline whenever you are completing a paper or project. They literally tell you EVERYTHING that you need to know, including what format the paper needs to be in, how many points will be awarded for each section, what information needs to be included, and so much more.
FYI, when a grading rubric is broken down into sections, let those guide your heading and subheadings!
No rubric? Talk to your professor and ask them what they’ll be looking for in your assignment. As they dish out the goods, take detailed notes and make sure you cover everything they just mentioned. You’ll be thankful later!
Typing Notes is Great, but Handwriting Them is Even Better
I get it – technology exists to help you do things more efficiently, including typing notes so that you can keep up with your professor’s hour-long lecture. As much of a blessing it is to have computers, tablets, and other devices, it’s easy to type and forget what you wrote.
That’s why taking the time to handwrite your notes is so important.
I guess you wouldn’t really call this is a secret to getting A’s (or good grades – whatever that means to you) in college, but I would venture to say that this method is quickly disappearing. Even if you type the notes in class, have a notebook on-hand in your dorm room so that you can rewrite everything you just typed.
You’ll be more likely to remember the information if you write it down. Bonus points if you rewrite your notes again!
I know this can be very time-consuming, but trust me – it can help A LOT!
Make an Effort to Talk to Your Professors
I remember sitting in an advertising design class during my junior year of college… Just hearing about the course made me terrified! You see, I was fine when it came to the writing assignments, but anything that had to do with graphic design was just a whole different ballgame for me.
Do you know what I did to make sure I got an A in that class?
I talked to my professor… frequently.
I’m sure my professor was sick of me by the time the class was over, but I wanted him to know that I was really trying. I asked for guidance on assignments, brainstormed ideas with him, and wasn’t afraid to ask questions if I got stuck along the way.
Guess what my final grade was… a 92.5%.
That’s right – My efforts to make sure I was doing the assignments right helped me to turn in work that was exactly what the professor was looking for. Sure, they weren’t the best designs out the class (in fact, my work never made it on the projector for the weekly edition of Top Designs of the Week), but that didn’t matter to me.
All I cared about was that at the end of the semester, I was walking out the door with another A on my transcript to show just how much my efforts paid off.
Organize Your Class Schedule to Promote Studying
My freshman year schedule was a joke (and completely my own fault). I had an 8 a.m. class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays that was just brutal to go to because I was so exhausted. On top of that, I scheduled classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well, pretty much in the pattern of what you would see at a high school.
I thought that maintaining the same schedule that I was so used to throughout the years would help me get A’s in college… I was wrong.
What I didn’t account for was how tiring it was to go to class after class throughout the day, then go to work in the late afternoon/evening. And when in the world was I going to fit in my social life (which included three hours of sand volleyball at least a couple times a week)?!
I learned that in order to get good grades in college, especially A’s, I was going to need to build in some study time.
So what did this end up looking like?
For one, I made sure that I had Fridays off. Most of the courses I needed were offered Monday-Thursday at some point, so I made sure my schedule for my sophomore year forward was only on those days. This gave me an extra day at the end of the week to get everything together and to study any new material I had learned.
Second, I made sure I had a break between at least one set of classes.
I was so used to rushing from class to class my freshman year that I never even thought to schedule a study break in-between them. This ended up working out great for me because I could sit on the benches around campus or at a table in a building and do some reading.
By simply reworking my schedule, I saw my college grades improve in just one semester, and that momentum carried through the rest of my undergraduate program!
Think about what your schedule is going to look like and what your study habits are and then plan accordingly.
If you need more help with this, check out my Stress-Free Scheduling ecourse!
Learn How to Apply the Material to Your Life
There will always be those classes and subjects that you have absolutely no interest in, but you have to take them because they are required.
One of the biggest obstacles that was in the way of me getting A’s in college was the fact that I wasn’t applying the material to my life. In other words, I wasn’t making an effort to dig into the material so that I understood it better and could apply it.
I’ve found that when you are able to apply the material and talk about how it relates to life today, you’re much more able to remember it. It’s almost like your brain presses an ‘On’ switch and you start to absorb the material better because you are at least partially invested in it.
I’m not saying you’ll love the subject… in fact, you may forget all the things you learned one the course is over, but taking the time to dig a little deeper in the material can help you make good grades in college.
Extra Secrets for Getting Straight A’s in College
- Become a member of a study group
- Stick to a daily schedule of studying
- Write all of your assignments and due dates in a planner
- Reward yourself for reaching small goals (such as getting an A on a paper)
- Read my post on the best study tips for college students
What are some of your secrets for getting A’s in college (or just good grades in general)?
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