Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How to Get A's in College

It's back to school! Studying for a course in college is nothing alike compared to studying for a class in high school. Everything is all down to you now. How are You going to study? Are You going to make the effort? Are You going to go to class?

But let's backup. The first thing I need you to do is to stop believing that smarter people get better grades. That is simply not true. It all comes to a matter of priority, some thoughtful organization and an optimistic mindset.

Prioritize School

I know this might seem like a big "duh!", but the truth is that school isn't waiting for you to be done with your Facebook break or Instagram (my weakness) or Twitter etc. No one is going to be there to remind you to do your homework and you won't get "in trouble" from the school for not going to class. College runs on it's own pace (it's kinda fast if you stop moving) and if you aren't willing to make the effort to sync yourself with school, you are in for a heck of a rollercoaster ride and in the end it always shows in your grades.

In a large way grades show not so much that you are a smart person, but that you personally make the effort and prioritize your time appropriately. And this is exactly what grad school, internships and employers will want to see in the future. Take a look at making sacrifices on things like social media time and also don't let things like your part-time job or social life take over. It's not worth it. College is too dang expensive for that.

Study Smarter Not Harder

There's a bit of a misconception at times that studying harder means that you will get higher grades, but that's not always the case. If you feel like that your current studying habits are working for you, try this: review the concepts in chunks over time and practice exam style questions rather than read the book over 10 times. When you read over the same material you are memorizing and you won't be able to know if you are getting the concepts down this way. The students that get top grades usually practice the style of questions the professor will test you on right before the exam. You can do this to be better prepared for the exams too. Find practice exams online if you have to.

Another super helpful tip is to study the material again right before the exam. If you can, study in the hours leading up to the exam. With the material fresh in your mind you are best able to recall the correct information without second guessing yourself!

Become a self-teacher

Sorry to break it to you, but only showing up to class and only reading the book is not going to get you an A either. Most of my classes, as in 95% of them were based on the professor's lecture material not the book. Take this into account at the beginning of the semester to see if you even need to purchase the text. This tip is especially true for those hard classes, where the passive learning just won't cut it. Practicing and testing yourself on the material when the class doesn't offer homework is crucial. When you teach yourself something it is actually hard to forget it because you had to make the extra effort to understand a concept.

Keep Your Motivation Close

Why are you going to college? What keeps you going? College has definitely tested me, at certain points especially with tough classes like organic chemistry. Remembering my motivation when I am most stressed out really helps me to get through the rough patches and work it out. Become a self-cheerleader. Take charge! Do you have a memo board or keep photos on your wall? Add pictures or quotes of whatever it is that keeps you going to your board so that you can give yourself a daily reminder. Being in a positive frame of mind and remembering that you are in control is a great way to conquer college!

Write in your planner everyday

...or at the very least get google calendar. I fill my planner with everything.

Important things you need to write down ASAP:

  • Exam dates
  • class times
  • papers and projects due
  • office hours for each class
  • professor's emails
and basically anytime you think of something you need to do just write it down. There is so much stuff to think about in one day that you will easily forget it. When I write things down I am more likely to feel accountable for that and make the effort to do it, especially when it's something i'd rather not do... like say a lab report for instance. Going back and crossing the things off the list makes me feel so productive and thats closer to getting the grade you want.

Also side note, what is up with the $50+ planners? Anyone else think thats just off? Okay maybe just me.

Schedule Me Time

Yes, schedule it. Put it in your planner as something to look forward to and also as a chance to de-stress from the week. Whether you prefer to paint your nails, go to the mall or do yoga we all need some time to ourselves now and then to recharge in order to do our best. A person who doesn't get in any me-time can't be as productive as someone who takes time to take care of themselves. Don't ever feel guilty for getting some me time in, you deserve it after all your hard work.

Use the syllabus

In high school the syllabus was just a paper you signed, gave back to the professor and pretty much forgot about it. The syllabus in college is completely different. In it the professor tells you exactly how to ace the class. There, the secret is out!

But so many people just toss it aside and forget about it. Don't be one of those people!

The syllabus will tell you exactly when everything is due so spread out your study time accordingly before the exam day hits. This is when planner comes in handy to write in all the assignments and exams. Nothing should be a surprise.


I made the terrible mistake one semester and loaded on all lab and hard sciences classes without adding in any less intensive elective courses. I thought hey it's only 13 credits, but oh gosh did I suffer that semester!  Aim for a balance. Sprinkle in electives with the tough courses. You don't have to take on all the tough classes at once. Save your sanity!

I have found that not being able to do your best in the things most important to you can be a source of anxiety. So make an effort to achieve the balance between life/work/school/studying in order to prevent stress. If you aren't finding the balance you need to either:

a.) re-prioritize


b.) cut something out of your schedule

And speaking of anxiety...


If you are planning on being productive you need to start with taking care of your body. A happy healthy body can keep going. And ain't nobody got time for getting sick.

Know Your Limits

This kind of goes hand in hand with finding school/life balance. I can't be the one, in fact no one can be the one, to tell you how many credits you should take, how much you should work, etc. If you are the type of student that can only handle 9 credits or you can handle 18 credits, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks*. Only you know what you can handle so be in tune with that and learn to trust your gut on this one. Know when to say no.

*Also every major is built differently, someone can be taking a 3-credit class in one for one major and it be much easier than a 1-credit course in another.

Work Ahead

because sometimes, something comes up at the worst timing.

and the best for last...

Surround Yourself By Those Who Love You

...and those who share similar goals as you. They will be your cheerleaders as you progress through your college career!

Office Hours

A quick note on office hours: You don't have to visit your professor to get an A in the class. However, I find that it helps to visit the professor especially in small clasees because it clearly shows you are making an honest effort to get a good grade and a professor has the ability to adjust your grade considering you efforts. A professor last semester blatantly told me this tip, but I already knew it worked😉 . This also to applies to other classes where professors evaluate quality of a project such as English class, it can help put a face to the name.

Overall prioritizing and believing you can do it is a must, after that everything else tends to falls into place much easier. I promise that college is not as difficult as some may make it out to be. If you want it, then it's all yours. Good luck to you this semester!

I'm looking for new studying tips to use this semester, which ones work best for you? Let me know in the comments below!


Did this post help you out?
Let's keep in touch on social media!

Dani & a Daisy

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