Getting good grades in college can be difficult, especially in your first semester when you are facing college classes for the first time.
If you feel overwhelmed as the semester is wrapping up, don’t panic!
Almost everyone I knew in college (myself included) had difficulties in their first semester, but they started getting good grades when they learned how to make the most of the college system.
Talk to your professor during office hours.
Professors almost always have weekly office hours when they make themselves available to students with questions. If you have questions, don’t be too shy or embarrassed to go to the professor’s office hours.
Professors will appreciate your effort and desire to do well in their course. Plus, this extra one-on-one time can help improve your relations with your professors.
Take advantage of teaching assistants.
If you’re at a big college where classes are huge and the lines outside the professor’s office hours are long, turn to your TA. Teaching assistants might not be at the top of the hierarchy of academic titles, but these grad students are probably pros with the undergraduate material you’re covering in class.
In fact, they may have even taken the exact same class in their undergrad career and can be a big help in getting good grades. Most TAs are happy to help, whether you need clarification regarding a theory discussed during a lecture or want to discuss a paper idea with someone.
Get in touch with other students.
In every subject and course, some students will simply take more readily to the material than others. Talking to students who have already successfully passed the class you are in can help give you an idea of what to expect. Peer tutoring exchanges can also be helpful.
For example, if you’re an English lit whiz but your math skills are shaky at best, a good tutoring exchange partner for you might be a math major with subpar literary analysis skills. You can also pay a student tutor, who will be way cheaper (and probably just as helpful for getting good grades) than a “professional” tutor.
Get a head start.
Whether you’re writing a term paper or facing a final exam, it’s always a good idea to get started early. Studying for a final exam is much more effective when you’re not rushing through the material and trying to cram everything in at the last minute.
Likewise, writing a research paper is pretty difficult if you save it for the last minute and are trying to speed read a bunch of reference books, formulate a thesis and put it all together in a well-worded essay while under time pressure! Avoiding procrastination is a necessary first step to getting good grades.
Find out what kind of learner you are.
Knowing what type of learner you are is also instrumental to getting good grades. Some people are visual learners and best learn by seeing, others are auditory learners and best remember something when they hear it, and still others are tactile or kinesthetic learners and best learn when they are moving and physically experiencing something.
Understanding how you learn can help you study in the way that is most effective for you. For example, I am an auditory learner, so I used to actually tape record myself reviewing vocabulary and notes for an exam and then listen to the tape. I also made up songs to help remember dates and events in history classes. (Of course, I only sang them in my head during exam time!)
Once you figure out how you learn best, you can adapt your study style accordingly so that getting good grades in college is less of a challenge.