Last updated on November 19th, 2022 at 03:59 pm
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” — B.B. King
It is a well-known fact that in order to get ahead in life, one must have a college degree. Having the proper education is just one side of the coin. Knowing how to use that education to your advantage, as mentioned in my previous blog post, 7 IMPORTANT THINGS NO ONE EVER TEACHES YOU IN COLLEGE, is the other side. However, getting good grades in college is a challenge for many people. It can be hard to know where to start or how to improve your study habits.
Here are 5 proven ways how to get better grades in college:
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1. Pick the right courses
When it comes to how to get better grades in college, the first step is course selection. You want to make sure that you are taking courses that fit your academic strengths and interests.
There is no point in struggling through a course that you have no interest in just to get a good grade. You have to really be honest with yourself when it comes to figuring out what you want to get out of your education. But you don't have to figure this out all on your own.
While trying to pick the right courses, make sure to:
Meet with your academic advisor
Your academic advisor is there to help you make the best choices for your future. They can help you figure out what courses you need to take in order to graduate and which ones will fit your interests and strengths.
Ideally, you want to meet with your academic advisor in the beginning of the school year while you are still trying to figure out your course schedule. After a certain period in the semester (usually the first 2-3 weeks), adding courses is impossible and you will be charged a fee if you choose to drop a course.
Your academic advisor will help you early on and can assist you on your path to getting better grades in college.
Research the professors
Not all professors are created equal. Some professors are easier than others and some are more interested in helping their students succeed. Make sure to do your research before signing up for a course.
Professors have the ability to make or break the student experience, so don't be afraid to look for instructors who offer what you need most as a collage student. I have had several past professors who are still mentors for me today! I know I would not have made it to Yale or where I am in life professionally without their guidance.
Consider your schedule
Your schedule is important when it comes to how to get better grades in college. You want to make sure that you are taking courses that you can fit into your schedule and that will not cause too much stress.
Your academic advisor will help you explore your options, but always come to them with a list of courses that you researched beforehand. This will also give them a better idea of what you are looking for.
Check the course requirements
Before you sign up for a course, make sure that you meet the requirements. Some courses have prerequisites that must be met before you can take the class.
2. Create a study schedule
One of the best ways how to get better grades in college is to create a study schedule. This will help you make sure that you are making time for all of your courses and that you are studying for the right amount of time. Make sure to:
It is important to take breaks while you are studying. This will help you stay focused and avoid burnout. There is a study method called The Pomodoro Technique that has built-in breaks. You can read more about it here and even find YouTube videos of other students using this technique.
Study with friends
Studying with friends can be a great way to stay on track. You can hold each other accountable and help each other out when you are struggling. Be sure to state intentions at the beginning of each study session, that way it doesn't turn into a hangout session in stead! No worries if it does, but the point of studying with friends is for accountability and support on your path to getting better grades in college.
Find a study spot
Finding a spot that works for you is important. You want to make sure that you are comfortable and that you have everything you need in order to be successful.
My go-to spot has always been the quiet area of the library or a nice café near campus. Wherever you choose, make sure you feel most productive there.
Create a plan
When you create a study schedule, make sure to include a plan for how you will study for each class. This will help you focus your time and make the most of your studies.
3. Take good notes
Taking good notes is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to how to get better grades in college. However, the quality of your notes influences how prepared you will be for any test in your courses. Make sure to:
Listen in class
In order to take good notes, you need to be paying attention in class. This means that you should put away your phone and focus on the lecture.
Write down key points
When you are taking notes, make sure to write down the key points. This will help you review later and make sure that you are understanding the material.
If you are confused about something, make sure to ask questions. This will help you clarify the material and make sure that you are on the right track. Most courses, including the larger STEM courses, have teaching assistants that hold office hours to provide additional guidance.
Also, do not be afraid to ask your professor for support. It is their job to help you succeed, and as long as you approach them in a respectful way, they should be more than willing to answer any questions you have about course material.
Organize your notes
Organizing your notes will help you study later. You can create a system that works for you, such as color-coding or using different fonts.
I always purchase a notebook with dividers that helps me separate notes from different courses. If you use your laptop to take notes in class, be sure to create separate folders on your computer for each course.
4. Review regularly
One of the best ways how to get better grades in college is to review regularly. This means that you should be studying on a regular basis, not just right before an exam. If you block out study periods on your calendar each week, then it becomes easier for you to make intentional study sessions.
It was found that students who review class notes right after class have a better chance at retaining the information compared to students who only reviewed their notes before an exam. Make sure to:
Create a study guide
A study guide can be a great way to organize your thoughts and make sure that you are covering all of the material. You can create one for each class or for each exam.
Study with flashcards
Flashcards can be a great way to review the material. You can create your own or find some online.
Take practice exams
These exams can be a great way to prepare for the real thing. You can find some online or in your textbook. Additionally, some professors provide practice exams on the course website.
5. Get help when you need it
If you are struggling, don't be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources available to college students, such as tutoring and office hours. Make sure to:
Talk to your professor
If you are struggling with the material, make sure to talk to your professor. They can help you understand the material and may be able to offer additional resources. Your professors are people, just like you, so do not be afraid to utilize this resource.
Going to professors outside of class hours changed the trajectory of my educational journey. Some of these same professors offered guidance that led me right into the doors of my doctoral program at an Ivy League institution. You never know what could happen, but you have to muster up some confidence and ask for help.
Visit the tutoring center
The tutoring center can be a great resource when you are struggling. They can help you with specific questions and give you tips on how to study better. If you cannot find the tutoring center, on your own, ask your professor or academic advisor for assistance. Getting better grades in college means using whatever resources that are available to you on campus.
Get a tutor
If you are still struggling, you may want to get a tutor. This is someone who can help you one-on-one and make sure that you are understanding the material. Your campus may offer free tutoring services. Always check this out beforehand.
I believe in you!
It's important to remember a few key things when it comes to how to get better grades in college:
You need to make sure that you are studying regularly, taking good notes, and reviewing the material frequently. You should also seek out help when you need it and be patient with yourself.
With these tips, you will be on your way to success in college!
I believe in you! But more importantly, I need you to believe in you too 🙂