Ultimately the main reason why you’re going to college is to earn your degree + get an education. Although there are so many other things involved, such as social life, being independent + growing up, your main goal of college is to stay on top of your studies. I’ve always done well in school my whole life + college was no different, but it was a lot harder to balance having a social life as well as getting enough sleep + performing well in the classroom.

I’ve compiled my best tips for doing well academically, things that I have done to get good grades, but also tips specifically for classes in college. Because college classes are WAY different than high school. You may have already taken some before actually attending classes, but the truth is that you have to work SO much harder in college. You go to class less so a lot more of it relies on you: you have to study so much more, as well as stay more organized + not push off assignments.

Here are the things I’ve learned + hopefully they help you out too:

grades comes before socializing

You have to put your grades before socializing whether you like it or not. If you actually want to have good grades, you have to make it a priority. For me, I would always use my afternoons to do homework once I got out of class. I would often times leave the socializing for dinner (meals in general) + evenings that way it would give me something to work towards + I wouldn’t push off my studies. It works better because most people are in class, working or doing homework in the afternoons as well. 

But sometimes I did have to choose studying over hanging out with friends. Or some Saturdays I would spend catching up on assignments instead of going out. Trust me, trying to multitask by studying + hanging out with friends at the same time does not work. I wouldn’t say that I always had to miss out or decline invitations, but sometimes it had to happen to put my studies first. 

actually attend class

At my school attendance still matters so I can’t miss class, but a lot of other schools are more chill on this. You may want to skip class because you don’t feel like going or because you don’t have to, but going to class will help you so much more. Not only will it keep you engaged in the class, but then you will know what’s going on + it makes it easier to learn. It also works psychologically because you are in a learning environment.

I know this may look different this year with coronavirus… so I’m not saying that you need to go to class in order to pass. But if you have the option of going to class vs staying in your dorm, go to class.

go to study groups + extra stuff

Study groups, extra study sessions, + using your teachers’ office hours are so helpful. It may require you to say no to socializing, but it is worth it. These things are so they can help you so please make the most of them! I found that it was just what I needed to answer my questions + help me understand everything fully… even if I thought I knew everything. Plus, it can help you meet people + create better connections with your teachers. 

-hand write notes instead of typing

I’m sure you’re bringing a computer to college because it’s a must. I don’t know how it is at your school, but at mine about 50% of people always have their computers out during class. Now don’t get me wrong, having a computer out to follow along with the powerpoint is great… but it can easily become a distraction (and that’s a whole different topic).

For me, I’ve found that handwriting notes is always better for my memory + learning. Pen + paper may seem old school, but it still works + is not out of the ordinary. Plus, most people are visual learners so it’s better for most people in the long run. You don’t necessarily have to takes notes in class– I did it beforehand so I wasn’t rushing to copy everything down during class. But it was a great way for me to get information into my brain + understand concepts better in class.

-stay on top of assignments with a planner + check grades often

Once you hear about an assignment, write it down. Check your school’s online platform to make sure your grades are correct + to read about upcoming assignments. You have to stay on top of things + make sure you are aware with what’s going on.

For me, I love my planner + I think everyone needs one, whether it’s paper or digital– although I prefer paper. You still need one in college to keep everything organized + write down what you need to do. I wouldn’t say you need to print out your 40+ page syllabus for every class so you have every single little detail on hand, like how they grade + what each week will look like (because that can change). But definitely know where you can find it + check it often.

-get your assignments done a head of time

Getting your assignments done early is so helpful. If you happen to have the time, I would recommend using it to get a head start on your homework, especially if it’s at the beginning of the week, especially if you know you will be busy. That way, in case anything comes up, you can be available for it.

Most people probably procrastinate which can lead to forgetting things, being sloppy or having to pull all nighters. So if you just get your stuff done early, you can avoid a lot of stress + other issues.

-find the place where you work the best

The place where you work the best probably isn’t your dorm room. Trust me, for my first semester I thought I could just do all my work from my room… but I had room mates constantly coming in or sleeping, or I would want to eat, or I would get distracted. There are so many other places you can go to on campus.

For me, the best place for me to work was the library. I had an area I always went to. I was never distracted in the library, plus I could print things if I needed to. I never thought the library would be a place I spent so much time, but it was + I don’t think I can ever go back. 

But once you establish an environment where you can successfully work + crank out homework, that will help you thrive in your studies + can save you time. 

-if you can teach it to someone, then you know what you’re talking about 

I have always found that if I can teach what I’ve learned to someone, than I know it well enough– and it may be true for you. Now I’m not saying you have to gather up your room mates every time you’re learning something + teach them. But if you can go through your notes + explain the whole process on your own then you are sufficient. Otherwise you need to go through the processes again so you can grasp everything.

-YouTube will be your best friend

I don’t know if I could have gotten through my biology class without YouTube. I used it so often to help me understand concepts + see things from other people’s perspectives. As a visual learner, I found it super helpful to actually see how things work. Or if I didn’t understand something my teacher was talking about, I would look it up on YouTube to find someone else to explain it in a way that was better for me. Definitely use YouTube + other resources on the Internet to help you learn better. 

-grades aren’t everything

At the end of the day, getting good grades aren’t everything. If you don’t get a 4.0 that is okay + I’ve had to learn to accept that myself. College is not the same as high school where you GPA really matters…although it can if you are going to grad school. But if you get an A-, B or whatever it is, you just have to trust that God can use our results for the better, even if it’s not what we have planned.

Your GPA does not define you. Your grades do not define you. Sometimes you try your hardest + you just can’t control the outcome. That doesn’t mean you try any less harder, but it means you come out of it proud of yourself, but also leaving the outcome in God’s hands + leaving your expectations/ dreams aside. 

I hope you have gained some tips + ideas for how to rock this semester + your studies– you got this! It’s definitely a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you will adjust easily.

Comment if you have any other tips or have questions of your own.

<3 Ainsley