Every college student at some point faces an overloaded schedule and the prospect of getting poor grades. For some students figuring out how to get good grades determines whether they remain in college and this dictates their entire future. Luckily there are a few secrets that can help any student make it through almost any college class unscathed.
Attend the First Week of Classes As if Your life Depended On It
Think of this first week of classes as an audition. Analyzing the professor, the class and your own ability to do well in it is easiest during the first few classes. It is important to do this before you are interested in the topic or feel invested in the class. During this first week it is still possible to change classes and add something else instead. Objectively analyze both the class and the professor. Here are some key things to look for:
Is the professor organized?
Is the professor interesting?
Is the professor really young and too interested? Sometimes new professors will demand a workload that is unrealistic; Does the syllabus reflect this?
What is the size of the class? Are your comfortable learning in a class of this size? If the class is extremely large are there TA’s available?
Look at the material. Is it completely new or is some of it familiar to you?
Examine the vocabulary. Some classes like Chinese Art History may be fascinating but memorizing hundreds of Chinese words will require additional study compared to American Art History. Science classes such as anatomy can be similarly demanding. Some students memorize vocabulary easily while others don’t. What type of student are you?
After analyzing the class and the professor assign a numerical number from 1-10 estimating the projected difficulty of the class for you. A full course load can be anywhere from 4-6 classes depending on the units and quarter or semester system. Try to keep the total difficulty number no higher than 50. In addition, every student has a different difficulty threshold. Keep track of these numbers and reevaluate them again throughout the semester. Doing this evaluation makes it possible to quantify and track the types of classes that you do well in and your ability to estimate your own difficulty threshold. Next semester this list makes choosing classes much easier.
Don’t Forget Drop and Pass/No Pass Dates
Pass/no pass and drop dates are some of the most important dates on the academic calendar. For many reasons a class can turn out to be a nightmare. When this happens ask yourself: Can I pass it? Can I learn something despite the fact that I am doing poorly? Provided the answer is yes, go and sign up to take this class pass/no pass. When all hope is lost drop it quickly and focus your energy on the remaining courses. This is preferable to receiving a poor grade and ruining your GPA.
Balance College Life with Classes
College is a lot more responsibility than just studying. Laundry, feeding yourself, having fun with friends and a part-time job all consume time and energy. Every student has a unique ability to manage and prioritize all these different things with school work. A large part for the college experience is learning to prioritize and make good decisions. It is easy to over promise and under deliver and then become stressed out. When this happens step back and look at the parts of the schedule that can be compromised to provide more time and emotional sanity.
Pay Attention to Emotional And Physical Balance
Schools teach many things but rarely do they teach good emotional and physical care. Many students will find college classes very difficult. Away from home, surrounded by additional stresses, junk food and strangers many students just give up or fall apart. Getting poor grades can be a product of poor emotional and physical care. A strong mind can only function when the body is healthy and the mind is in a good emotional space. Do things to take care of both the body and the mind to ensure that studying is as easy as possible. This includes: excersize, a good diet with plenty of protein, keeping hydrated and taking time to enjoy friends and the things you enjoy.