#RealTalk: How I Get Straight A’s In College
Alright, so I’m a senior in college and I know getting a job now-a-days is no joke. Kinda feel like I’m an expert now with school and stuff because I’ve been in school so darn long now LOL. I think most college seniors feel this way! I’m very lucky in my current position in which I already secured an awesome job back in October at where I interned over the summer!! I can say from my own experiences that having impressive grades will easily set you apart from all the other recent graduates applying for that same job. I definitely wouldn’t have earned the amazing internship I had with “average joe” grades and definitely wouldn’t have gotten the full-time job either! Having strong grades in college usually gets you invited into honors societies on campus, JOIN THOSE! I’m in two! They can help you find amazing internship and leadership opportunities to build up your resume and also provide helpful networking events that will help you make important connections.
To my critics that will say “C’s get degrees” to me when I say that grades DO matter…C’s do get degrees but they certainly do NOT get you the same jobs out of college, or the same experiences, internships, work ethic and feeling of fulfillment as an A student would. Plus, we all pay a freaking arm, leg and our first born child just to attend university these days, so you might as well get your money’s worth and put your best effort into your education. On top of that, if you are also working a part-time job and getting good grades you will look even more impressive!! But that sounds very stressful so bless your soul if you are able to work and get great grades. I dog sit and baby sit around town to make money which i’m grateful for because it’s a flexible job.
Anyways, I am graduating with a major GPA of 4.0 and a cumulative GPA of 3.97, and with an amazing job secured! I’m thrilled that my hard work and long hours are paying off. It ain’t too shabby. But school has NEVER came easy to me…in high school I was riding that struggle bus and felt like I was ALWAYS behind even when I wasn’t. I am a “slow learner” because I like to sift through the details and make sure I understand what the heck is going on before I dive right in. That’s not a disadvantage at all because I learned how to work smarter for myself by finding what works for me! I have kinda figured out what works for me in terms of learning and thought I should share that with my lil community of cuties!
The greatest thing you can do is learn how you operate best and be honest with yourself as to how you learn best. I am passionate about getting others to enjoy learning, encouraging others to be their best selves, and I love helping others achieve their goals! So lets get into it…
1. Go to class!! (And get there early!)
I have a hard time feeling bad for people who complain about their grades or not understanding material when they don’t show up to class. Trust me, everything will make a lot more sense if you just show up more. Professors take notice of familiar faces. They can easily pick out those who really give a f*ck about their academics and those who don’t. Try to get there early! I try to arrive 5-10 mins early if I can because I like to get settled and organized before class starts. This gives you the time to review any homework, readings or class notes to refresh your mind and prepare any questions. If I have busy day of classes, I try to bring a snack to eat before my next class starts because I’ll arrive early and have time to eat!
2. Take notes by hand
I’m not really sure what the science is behind this but for some reason it just works really well for retaining the information and being able to recall it. Especially if you're like me and a highly visual learner. Get some good pens and a notebook for each class. I also like to use different colored pens and highlighters to color code my notes and emphasize important information.
3. If you have the time, get your work done during the day
I do my best work during the day because after like 6 pm, I am a mess! I feel most productive during the day. And you can drink coffee during the day. We are all more alert during the day time so you’re more likely to be productive during the daytime. But if your schedule doesn’t allow for much free time during the day time, try to find a quiet spot on campus where you wont be distracted or disturbed.
4. Use a planner & sticky notes
I love my planner to keep track of all assignments neatly in one place. I think it’s the best way to make sure you have noted all important assignments and their due dates. My favorite planners are by Erin Condren and you can fully customize them!! In addition, I like to use sticky notes either paper ones or virtual ones that are on our computers! I use those to put my most time sensitive task on, either daily assignments that need to be done TODAY or anything else pressing that I can’t forget about. Plus they are a great way to remind yourself of anything important or just to make quick lists.
5. Flashcards…traditional but effective
I’ve always been a hardcore user of flashcards! They are so effective because first you spend a good chunk of time creating them, just writing everything important down and definitions, etc. which is a form of studying. Then you can run through them with definitions/questions first and then reverse it by reading the definition and then recalling the term. I also don’t think the virtual or online flash cards are as effective as the paper flashcards because there is just something about the brain and the ability to recall things after writing them down. I don’t know the science behind it but it works! (Pro tip: You can even color code your flashcards to help you with different categories of questions or by subject)
6. Write down questions and comments while doing homework
This is a great idea if you struggle to participate in class and participation is definitely something that helps get you a few brownie points and even actual points with your professor. So while you do your reading and assignments, jot down any questions you may have or anything you’d want to start a discussion about in class. Sometimes I just want to know my professor’s opinion on a matter in the reading or whatever we had been assigned to watch for class. Write these little thoughts down so you can potentially use them in the next class!
7. Organize and prepare!
Be proactive and you won’t waste time during your school day on less important things. This means prepping your books for the next day, lay out your clothes for class and the gym the next day, double check your alarms (Like making sure it’s set for 7 AM not 7 PM! I’m sure we a lot of us have made that mistake before!) You can even go as far as to meal prep your meals, or just a few meals for the week so you can save yourself time and the effort. I like to use my planner to decide what I will work on in the gym each day that week because it gives me a structured plan to follow and look forward to. I am also big on prepping snacks for the week to bring to class and just something easy but healthy to grab so I don’t have to put much thought into it.
8. Remove distractions & buckle down
If you have to put your phone away in your bag or leave it in your room, then be it!! If your home is too noisy, go to a local coffee shop or the library at school. I also like to find random spots on campus that turn out to be surprisingly great study spots. Sometimes it means you gotta tell your friends you need to buckle down and go do some work alone for a while. Whatever works for you, figure it out and do it!
9. Don’t procrastinate! Always finish things early
I think I finish projects and papers early because I get anxiety about not finishing on time BUT it works out really well for me! If you finish even just a day early, you have that extra time to really look over your final work and have the time to check in with your professor in case you have any final questions. Sometimes professors even offer to look over your work which can always be beneficial! I always think about how if I get this project or paper done in a timely manner, I can spend the time I saved from NOT procrastinating doing things I actually enjoy and not having the stress of an assignment looming over me! Wish I could’ve tell my high school self that! If you put the time in ahead of the game, you don’t have that stressful crunch time feeling and you can sit back and relax for an extra day or two!! Best feeling ever. Don’t put things off till the last minute people! You will thank yourself later :)
10. Get sleep
I guess I’m a grandma but I genuinely believe that getting enough sleep is extremely important for your overall mood and ability to focus. I try to get 7 or 8 hours a sleep per night because I feel my absolute best when I do that. Sleep is sooo important to me because I am such a light sleeper so I’m often easily disturbed. So when I can get a great deep sleep I’m a VERY happy camper. Plus, your immune system will be stronger if you are well rested which is something we really need in college. Part of why I decided to live off campus and commute is because the sleeping situation is so much better! Peaceful AF. I use this awesome white noise machine to help me sleep through the night without being woken up by random noises or my pups moving around the house.
You will sleep better, feel better, and look better if you commit to at least 4-5 workouts per week! I don’t feel myself if I don’t get exercise in during the day. I prefer to get it done in the mornings most days if my school schedule allows for it. This semester I have 8 AM classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I workout in the afternoon for those because mama aint waking up at 5:30 to workout. No no. BUT on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I don’t have classes until the afternoon. So I am awake by 7:00-7:30 am to make a healthy breakfast and get my butt in the gym. This way, the worst part of my day is already done by 8:30 or 9:00 am and I love that. You will feel more awake, revitalized and less angry if you get that workout out of the way and get to take a refreshing shower to start your day. I also tend to carry a lot of unneeded stress, anxiety and just have some negative energy sometimes that I can fully release in a workout each morning so I approach the day in a better mood. Even if it’s just 30 mins, which it usually is for me, that is enough time to get a good sweat in.
12. Find ways to enjoy learning
Yes, I totally know what it’s like to take courses where you are absolutely not interested in the topic…or you are 99% sure it won’t be used in my actual job post-graduation…but you have to get through it somehow. So I like to find little ways that you can connect that course to something in your life. For example, I hated accounting and business statistics but I had to take two versions of those courses. I found ways where I could make little connections to why this is important or relevant to my life in some way. I like the show Billions and I know that they do a lot of cool stuff with algorithms and spreadsheets so I tried to convince myself that this was important in case I come across a hedge fund or something…hahaha RARE but hey! Whatever works. I found that Excel is actually kinda helpful to know if you are in any field of business! At my internship they had me doing various small tasks using Excel and what I learned in stats actually did familiarize me with the program. It’s great to know how to use it even if you only end up just making pretty bar charts with it! There are always ways to make the course interesting and less miserable!! Just gotta dig deeper sometimes. In general, I really enjoy learning new things and even more so as I’ve gotten older. Don’t worry, if you are really struggling with a course just focus your best effort on passing and understanding as much as you can of it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
Let me know what works best for you and if these tips helped you at all this semester!
WISHING YOU ALL SUCCESSFUL SEMESTERS!!