A great GPA score usually signals the difference between meeting requirements for prestigious programs and scholarships – or not. It also decides the honors you get on graduation day, which go a long way toward distinguishing your degree from others in the world of work.
In fact, one human resource management lecturer with 20 years of experience in the field once told me that a degree with less than upper second class honors is not worth considering.
In a sea of graduates leaving college every year, a high GPA becomes one of the many things employers like her look for when hiring top notch talent for their businesses. It is also what a lot of clients look for in freelancers to trust their expertise in the field.
So here are 10 tips to up your GPA game.
#1 – Join a Study Group
Joining a study group can make all the difference in your grades. Joining as a tutor allows you to help other students get better at topics and subjects you’ve already grasped, which helps to cement it in your memory for future use. Joining as a pupil helps you to get the assistance you need with areas you do not understand.
Join study groups which encourage healthy intellectual discussions about the topics at hand. When you interact with information outside of a classroom setting, it helps you to remember it better. Think of all the songs you know by heart, or all the information you can recite about pop culture. This is how you learned it.
#2 – Revise as Soon as you Get Home
After surviving a day of class the last thing on your mind is going home to go through the ordeal again. But it is one of the best things you can do for your GPA. Reading over while the information is still fresh in your mind helps to make the information stick.
It also allows you to catch any errors you might have made while taking notes, which you would have accepted as fact if you waited weeks or months to look back at the information.
Making cue cards from the notes you take also comes in really handy, as when study time comes around, you can bring these virtually anywhere to get some studying in.
#3 – Be Proactive
It sounds simple but one of the biggest mistakes people make is to procrastinate. It is also the easiest offence to commit, since it’s so convenient to do everything else fun and leave work for the last minute. Don’t allow yourself to pick up this habit. It’s very hard to break once you do.
Getting your schoolwork out of the way as soon as possible allows you to focus on having fun in your free time, guilt-free. It also means that you have more time to go over your work and to catch all the typos and errors, if you rushed the project the night before.
Remember also that instructors usually subtract points from late submissions.
#4 – Three Time’s the Charm
An English teacher in high school once told the class that our brains only retain 30% of information each time we cover it. She didn’t provide the science behind that, but applying that logic can go a long way towards boosting grades.
The aim should be to cover the information at least three times to score 90%. Do not count class-time, as this will make up for the rest of the percentage. Covering the information thrice does not have to mean rereading the same notes three times. It can mean reading the textbook, then the accompanying Powerpoint slides, followed by the notes made in class.
Whatever method you use, attempt to interact with the information at least three times in a brief period; usually a week or two before the exam.
#5 – Write Everything Down
A lot of students claim they can remember everything and don’t need to write it down. Maybe you’re one of them. But as one finance teacher once told the class, “The weakest ink lasts longer than the strongest memory”.
Take notes at your lectures and write down examples teachers give to explain problems. Even if you don’t understand it, write it down anyway. Often times, when you go home and go over it a few times it finally makes sense.
#6 – Buy a Laptop
Being a college student is a lot like being a freelancer. You are almost always on the clock wherever you go, even on holidays. Just as freelancers rely heavily on portable devices to get work done wherever they go, so will you.
Invest in a laptop to ensure that being away from home or on a road-trip doesn’t prevent you from getting work done in a pinch. Having a laptop also makes taking notes in class much easier. If you can’t afford a regular laptop, consider getting a Chromebook, or even a tablet with a blue-tooth keyboard. They work just as well for taking notes and doing online research, but cost a lot less.
#7 – Take Care of Yourself
School is stressful. Boost those feel good hormones with exercise. College is very much like a sedentary job, and carries the same problems. Get up and run. Go to the gym. Bike. Walk. Skate. Swim. Do something.
Eat as healthy as you can afford to. Don’t use college as an excuse to stock up on junk. The last thing you need is to feel sick the night before finals. Take supplements to boost your immune system and cook with garlic, which is a natural antibiotic.
Stay away from recreational drugs as much as possible, and do not consume too much alcohol.
#8 – Learn to Need Less Sleep
Time is of the essence in school, and sleep is one of the biggest thieves. While sleep is actually quite important to physical and mental health, you should learn to need less of it anyway.
No matter how early you get things out of the way, there will always be nights when you need to stay up late to get important things done. Training your body to require less hours of sleep puts more hours in the day to get more done, and over time it makes staying up late a breeze.
Using social media to engage other college students in discussions about the topics you’re covering will also make it easier to stay up; as long as you keep the phone on silent and have the willpower to resist checking the phone every five minutes. If you can master that, you’d be amazed to see how much this helps you to remember things.
#9 – Find a Healthy Distraction
This seems like an unlikely recommendation for college, but you do need to find something to look forward to every day outside of schoolwork. Whether it’s playing video games, working on your blog, writing novels, or reading a few pages of a book, make time to feed your brain something other than academic concepts and statistic formulas.
Made it through an entire night of studying or completed a project you’ve been working on for hours, or weeks? Great! Reward yourself. You’ve earned it.
#10 – Beware of Relationships
Relationships can be fun and nurturing, but obligations to your partner gets in the way of time you could spend getting work done. Add the risk of pregnancy, and the demand of raising kids, and the stakes climb higher.
However, having a partner can also help you get better grades. If you already have children, then a partner can help watch the kids while you focus on your studies. If you don’t, be sure to use effective birth control methods regularly to keep it that way. And if – like my husband – you have a partner who gives you a lot of space to study and will help you with schoolwork, then your GPA may thank you for it.
Whatever your decision, weigh the pros and cons of the kind of relationships available to you versus your grades. Relationships are often short-lived and temporary at this age, but low GPAs and student debt are not. Invest in the life experiences which stand to benefit you most. There’s plenty of time for everything else later.
Photo Credit: 360 degrees