Getting the good grades

While college offers newfound freedom and great opportunities, it can be hard to keep up with classwork and homework while having other responsibilities. Instead of burning out after autumn quarter, try these tips and you’ll be well on your way to summa cum laude.

GO TO CLASS (AND SIT IN THE FRONT)

Assuming you’re only taking three classes — and it isn’t summer quarter — you’re paying over $100 a week to have a seat in class, so why waste money by not going? You may be able to scrape by with poor attendance, but if you want a good grade, it’s important to not only be in class, but participate as well.

Sitting in the front is an excellent way to silently participate. Just the act of walking by the bulk of students in the back and grabbing a seat in the front sets you up for success, as well as tells your classmates (and your teacher) that you’re ready to learn. There are also other added benefits most of us have heard time and time again, but are nonetheless important. Being in the front forces attendance and attention accountability; you may be tempted to be on your phone, doodle, or talk to other people, but having the professor less than 3 feet away from you, you’re less likely to reply to that text or keep that conversation going! It also allows for easier interaction with your professors, thus boosting your participation grade (which can help your grade immensely when finals come around).

GO OLD SCHOOL WITH YOUR NOTES

We’ve all heard it — hand-writing your notes helps you retain information. Sure, that may be true, but if you’re in a boring class and you have a laptop in front of you, what’s to stop you from getting a head start on that other essay, or suddenly being super inspired for your writing class, or Pinteresting your way to HGTV worthiness. Though not at all bad things, it’s best to basically strap yourself to the seat and tape your eyes open (figuratively!) to make sure you keep your nose to the grindstone all the way to an A — even in those super dry prereqs we all loathe.

CHANGE YOUR MINDSET

I know, easier said than done. But if you’re going into assignments like they’re optional, you truly will have a tough time getting everything done. However, if you think of your classwork as important, serious work, you will make time to do it.

There are hundreds of examples online, countless books, and resources available to teach you how to organize your time, multitask and get good grades. The most important part? Making grades your priority. As a current UW Tacoma senior, I’ve just figured out that there is no secret formula. To get good grades, you have to make school a priority and just do the work.

WORK SMARTER

No, staring at the same page in a textbook till your eyes bleed isn’t really studying —  it’s punishing yourself. The author of “Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age,” Maggie Jackson, suggests that not being able to pay attention for long periods of time goes back to survival. If humans were completely enveloped in something, they might have missed the large-toothed animal trying to eat them. However, now that we aren’t distracted by animals trying to kill us (hopefully), but rather Instagram posts or an influx of Snapchats, we don’t really use that skill in everyday life, so we have no choice but to buckle down and get that homework done!

So while you could bang your head against your books till you absorb the information, try taking breaks every hour or so for better — and less painful — results. This doesn’t mean opening Facebook and going down its endless rabbit holes. Instead, try doing something that isn’t going to get you too far off the studding path, like reading a short chapter in a book that’s not for school or coloring (don’t knock it till you try it folks). By not switching from something tedious to fun, it should be easier to realize the break is up and willingly switch back to studying.

On another note, please, please study what you don’t know. Yes, you would think it would be common sense, and maybe it is for most people. Personally, I used to study while carefully avoiding what I really needed help on, then feel super great about the test because “I studied for like eight hours.” But if you do this, you’re wasting time. Once you know something, move on. There are so many resources at UWT — go after what you don’t know!

REMEMBER TO SLEEP, EAT AND GO OUTSIDE

Lastly, grades are not the most important thing. Your mental health and your family are definitely higher on that list. Besides you can’t get good grades when you’re always drained, sick or stressed because you only see a GPA instead of a whole college experience. After listening to the college graduates in my life, not many care about employees’ past GPAs, but rather the knowledge they acquired. So, if you understand the material but can’t quite get your grade up, you still learned a lesson, and you still know the material. So go easy on yourself, and if you want to, go after that A!

COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

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