Freshman year can be scary. You’re dropped off on an unfamiliar campus full of people you don’t know, and you’re living in a small dorm room with someone besides your family. And, on top of adjusting to this change, you have CLASSES! I mean, that’s why you’re in college, right? Unless you’re going for that MRS. Degree, you’ll want to take note of these tips so that your start off your college career with a strong GPA. For a lot of us, college level class can be rude awakening… so here are some easy ways to kick off your first semester with a 4.0 and make your parents proud!
1. Plan ahead
At the beginning of each semester, I like to go through all my syllabi and mark down test days in my calendar. This way, I can have idea of how many exams there are for each class and if there are any crazy weeks when all my tests together. If you know this beforehand, you’ll know to prepare for that crazy hard, stressful week as much as possible before hand.
2. Don't just go to class; BE THERE
This might sound silly. I’m sure you’ve heard so many people say “skipping class is the worst thing you can do if you’re trying to get good grades” or “the first step to getting good grades is going to every class.” And yes, this is good advice, and you definitely need to attend class! BUT what’s the point of going to class if you’re going to sit there, zone out, and take zero notes. If your GPA is important to you, don’t just go to class but be there. This means listening attentively and taking thorough notes. I know this might seem obvious, but trust me, it is super easy to not pay attention in class, and just because you were marked as present doesn’t mean you made good use of your time. Treat going to class like studying. Put in the work up front so that you don’t fall behind. College classes are fast paces, so it’s super easy to quickly get off track. Don’t miss a class unless you have to, and work hard to make the best use of your time during class. This is the most important step to earning a 4.0!
3. Re-read notes
Again, not a major task, but a HUGE difference maker. I like to arrive to my classes at least ten minutes early (partially because I’m very punctual and being late to just about anything stresses me out) so that I can look through my notes for that class. I know this seems like not a big deal, but if you do this every day, you’ll be surprised by all that you retain. When it comes time for an exam, you’ll already be really familiar with all the information your course has covered. It will just be a matter of studying what you aren’t able to remember and reviewing the rest!
4. Study, study, and study some more...
If you’ve followed my first three tips, this should be the easiest step. Now that you’ve been actively engaged in every (or at least most) class, re-reading notes, and aren’t surprised by your exam schedule, it’s just a matter of knowing what you don’t know. Go through all your notes, highlighting what is important. I like to make a study guide and then make flashcards to quiz myself. When I realize I don’t understand or can’t remember a certain concept, then I focus on it until I do. The key to studying efficiently is to focus on the topics that you don’t fully understand or aren’t completely comfortable with instead of spending your time on the information that you DO know. If you know it.
5. Don't be too hard on yourself!
I struggled with this freshman year and still do. It’s important to remind yourself that although GPA is important in college, it does not define you, and it is not the most important thing in the world. You are going to get a bad grade at some point in your college career; it happens to everyone. I constantly have to remind myself that my success is not measured by my grades, and one bad test grade will not matter to me ten years from now. Work hard, do your best, but don’t beat yourself up when you mess up. It will happen, and it is okay.
College is a crazy time of creating great memories with lifelong friends, staying up way too late, drinking way too much coffee andddd studying like the world is about to end. As you begin (or continue) your college career, I hope my tips on how to succeed in your classes is helpful. Remember: college flies by, so enjoy it, but don’t forget why you’re there. Work hard, set goals for yourself, and never give up!