The ABC’s Of Getting “A”s and “B”s

In elementary school all that was required of us to get decent grades was coloring inside the lines. Middle school and high school introduced to the word “studying” and, soon after, a genuine dislike for the word. But college is where the work is no joke. The classes are hard. The workload is heavy. And the social scene is exploding. So how does a college girl stay on top of it all?

Grab your notebook and furry pencils (or whatever it takes to get you ready to hit the books), because I’ve got a list of things you can do to get on another list: the Dean’s List.

10. Invest in a planner: Good grades begin with organization (and writing down your assignments). Find a planner that works for you, whether it is the one provided by your school or that handy little calendar in your iPhone. Once you have it, write everything in it. Meetings, to-do lists, homework assignments, phone numbers. It is so much easier to manage all your information when it is centralized in one place.

9. Get to class: Self-explanatory. Abide by your class schedule and don’t skip. Though you may laugh in the face o that 8:30a.m. Theology class on Friday morning, remember that professors can and will deduct for absences. It would be a shame to miss that letter grade because you could not roll out of bed to get to your desk in the morning.

8. Get a change in scenery: The library is not for everyone. Some people cannot cram themselves into a desk on the third floor and work until 2 a.m. Others openly admit that the library is a better social scene than a bar on Friday night. Find a study space that works for you, and you ALONE. My personal study space is a Starbucks near my school. I pack up all my books, grab a skim latte and park myself at a table in the corner for hours at a time.

7. Employ the help of some dead composers: Music has been proven to help students while studying, but lyrics have the potential to get in the way of the thought process. Good thing Bach never set out to write words with his pieces or attempted to match Drake’s raps. Classical music can improve studying for tests and quizzes. Feel free to judge me on this: I have all of Peter Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker on my Ipod, but I am thanking those sugarplum fairies graciously when the As start rolling in.

6. Unplug from the world: I know it sounds nearly traumatic to even conjure the thought of turning off the iPhone, but cell phones and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook will only end up working against you for the 12-pager due tomorrow. Allow yourself a Facebook break or texting session if you need it, but when you are in front of the Microsoft Word document or textbook, keep your eyes and fingers focused on the task at hand.

5. Take good notes: Do I sound like your professor yet? Though I do not want to get into the boring rhetoric of “good study habits,” I cannot express how important it is to take good notes. Anyone can agree that notes are no fun to take, but when it comes to studying late Sunday night you will thank yourself for being so diligent with that highlighter.

4. Get a study buddy who knows their stuff: Most college campuses have free tutors and study aids. FO FREE. And no one seems to really know it.   Tutoring sessions take up only one hour of your time but will save you a lot of frustration and confusion. Having a tutor does not mean that you are not capable on your own, just that you are smart enough to want to improve with someone’s help.

3. Abuse office hours: Yes, that is right. Do not take advantage of office hours, abuse them. Professors are in their office for a reason and if you are having any kind of difficulty you should see them first. They know the work better than anyone else. Write down your professors’ office hours and keep them in a place that you can refer back to when you need the extra help.

2. Reward yourself (always and often): Rewards are totally acceptable. Although I highly recommend pats on the back, why not take it a step further? Think of something you love and find a way to reward yourself with it when you do a good job. One paper down? Grab a chai latte. B+ on that killer math test? You totally deserve a shopping spree!

1. Map out your goals and keep them where you can see them: The key to getting the grades is actually imagining that you already achieved them. It is a timeless secret, but it really has been proven to work. At the start of every semester write down your goals – short-term and long-term. Keep those goals in a visible spot and look at them daily. I kid you not; those who can see their goals written out for them are more apt to move towards the direction of achieving them.

And make sure you keep my number one motto in mind as well: Work hard but play hard too. When you have finished studying and you have taken the test, don’t be afraid to go out and have a good time. Just be ready, with brain cells intact, to get back to books come Sunday night.

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