Before I share all of my secrets on how I got straight A’s throughout college and maintain a 4.0 GPA, I want take a step back and share a little bit about my journey first.
Believe it or not, I wasn’t always that kid that did well in school. In fact, in high school I had pretty mixed grades. A lot of times I got A’s and B’s, but there were times when I would get C’s, D’s and even F’s. By the time senior year started, I already gave up and didn’t care what grades I got because I knew it was too late to bring my GPA up anyways. It actually wasn’t until college that I started maintaining an A-streak because I saw college as an opportunity to “start over.”
In fact, I am still in college as of writing this. I attend the University of Oregon and am majoring in Journalism and Graphic Design. I have been getting straight A’s in college for the past three years and I am so excited to share with you exactly how I do it.
And so, on that note, I present my secrets to getting straight A’s throughout college.
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
If you can manage it, you want to try to plan every major assignment two weeks in advance. This little piece of advice saved me so much last term.
During the first week of the term, after getting my syllabus for each class, I write down in my planner every assignment’s due date and when I should start working on them. For the smaller assignments, I plan to work on them a couple days to a week ahead of time. However, for the larger assignments I make sure to plan at least two weeks ahead. This is because you never know what could happen unexpectedly that will set you back and make you miss an assignments deadline.
I’ve been there and it’s not fun.
When you get your syllabus for every class, you should also highlight all of the important information such as your professor’s office hours, office location, contact information and grading system.
Then, place your syllabus in the front of your binder, folder or whatever you use to stay organized. This makes it easier to find and refer back to.
SET REMINDERS FOR DUE DATES
I use the Any.do app to set reminders of pretty much everything in my life. Whether it’s assignment due dates, test dates, club meetings, birthdays, doctors appointments – you name it. Why I personally like this app is because it is simple and easy to use. Once you complete a task, all you have to do is swipe it and shake your phone and the task magically disappears.
Note: I am not sponsored by the any.do app, I just use it regularly.
FLASH CARDS AND QUIZLET ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS
I am honestly not that good at anything science-related so Quizlet and flashcards basically saved me when it came to Biology. Quizlet has study sets, tests and diagrams to help you better understand and remember the material, which is a life saver, especially if you are a visual learner (like me). I only use multi-colored flashcards for general vocabulary words and Quizlet to study for difficult tests.
Handwrite your notes
I am not going to tell you to never type out your notes because whatever works for you, works, and that’s all that matters. I have a friend who gets a 100% on every test and she types out her notes, so you do you. But, what I will say is that it’s scientifically proven that you retain information better when you hand-write your notes versus typing them out and that is definitely the case for me. I find that I focus better and am less distracted when I take handwritten notes.
Bonus points if you rewrite your lecture notes every night and color code them.
STUDY THE NIGHT BEFORE AND THE MORNING OF
Not only do I study the night before, but I also study the morning of a major test. “Why?” you may ask. Well, according to science, your brain only retains 1/3 of the information you studied the night before. Therefore, studying the night before and the morning of, right before class starts, allows your brain to retain as much information as possible. I truly believe this is one of the major reasons I get A’s on all of my tests.
DON’T SKIP CLASS
Skipping class shows your professors that you don’t care about all of the hard work and effort they put into setting up their lectures and most of the time they will deduct points if they notice you’re gone.
Another reason you shouldn’t skip class is because you will miss important information like test dates or details about an upcoming assignment. I’ve skipped class before and regretted it immediately because I missed so much important information that was on a test. It’s just not a good idea in general.
GET TO KNOW YOUR PROFESSORS
This is so important and is something I regret not doing earlier.
Let me give you a backstory really quick.
Last term I was taking a computer programming class which goes toward my graphic design minor. I was perfectly fine doing some of the simpler assignments, but it wasn’t until we did huge projects and tests that I became completely lost. All of the tests were worth %35 of our entire grade. A few days after I took the midterm, I got my grade back — a %73. At that point I didn’t get anything below a high B on a test in college so let’s just say I cried… a lot. That day my grade went from a %98 to a %70. Ouch!
Yet, I still ended the term with a %95 overall grade.
Do you know what I did to finish the class with an A?
I met with my professor during office hours and talked to him frequently.
Anytime I needed help with anything I would stop by his office hours. I asked for help on assignments, brainstormed ideas with him, and wasn’t afraid to ask questions if I got stuck. You see, the point is that I wanted him to know I was serious about truly understanding the material. I think we mutually benefited from these visits because he got satisfaction knowing that I was someone he could talk to about a subject he loves and I walked out the door with another A on my transcript.
YOUR MENTAL HEALTH COMES FIRST (ALWAYS)
Being able to say that you got straight A’s throughout all four years of college is a great feeling, but it’s not worth compromising your mental health. This is something I learned the hard way and I don’t want you to go through the same thing I did.
During my first two years of college, I worked two jobs and was a reporter for my school newspaper while going to school full-time. I became so obsessed with getting good grades that I would forget to eat, I was chronically sleep-deprived and it started effecting me physically. I was also really depressed because I never got to see my friends or family due to the sheer volume of schoolwork.
It got to the point where I had to slow down, cut out some classes and take the summer off because I was so mentally exhausted. Now that I am in my third year of college, sometimes I still have to remind myself to slow down and not overwork (or overschedule) myself. It can be hard when you are an overachiever (like me) and want to take every interesting class offered but I promise it’s not worth suffering over.
Comment below your tips! I would love to hear from you!