Top Tips to Get Good Grades in College

Getting good grades in high school is important to get into a good college, but getting good grades in college is important for making yourself competitive for scholarship and financial aid eligibility, internships and graduate programs. Here are our top tips to get good grades in college.

Don’t Expect College to Be as Easy as High School

The biggest mistake most students make is assuming that college is as easy as high school.

Many “A” students in high school find their grades inexplicably slipping in college because they rely on the same study habits they’ve always relied on–often to underwhelming results. They haven’t developed the time-management tricks that a mature student knows like the back of their hand.

In college, it’s important to take charge of your education and create a detailed study plan your first semester, which you can adjust as you move forward in your college career. Remember that it’s easier to scale back than it is to radically increase your workload, so work extra hard at the beginning and if you need to dial it back a notch, then do so. Don’t let yourself get B’s and C’s and say, “I’ll work harder next time.” Get A’s and assess whether you studied too much or just the right amount.

Only Take Courses You Need or Really, Really Want

Don’t settle on courses that are absolutely useless or disinteresting to you. If you find yourself in a class wherein you’re disengaged or dispassionate, you run the risk of losing interest and, consequently, not studying hard enough.

Don’t simply let an advisor tell you what classes you should take–remember, this is your education, and you ought to be in the driver’s seat. It’s important to decide what you care about BEFORE you try to crack down and force yourself to study something you secretly hate - a crucial concept that runs through our entire Time Management for Teens course.

Select your courses one at a time, while mindful of graduation and major requirements as well as your own burgeoning interests. Choose classes that you need and classes that inspire you to do the work.

Make a Study Plan (Lists Big and Small)

You’d be surprise how psychologically motivating a little list can be - this is a topic we break down in our course on time management for teens. On the macro-level, it’s important to create an overarching plan for your four years of college (one that’s malleable, of course, to allow for unexpected things like getting closed out of a class).

On the micro-level, getting good work done is quite simply as easy as making a little list.

Each morning, I grab a blank index card and write my tasks out for the day. If it’s a big project, make sure to break your tasks down into small and manageable chunks. Include easy tasks toward the beginning of your list because you’re more likely to build momentum and keep working at tasks on a list that’s already got a few things crossed out.

Don’t Take More Classes Than You Need

It may be enjoyable to brag about how many credit hours you’re taking, but it’s less enjoyable to brag about getting B’s and C’s in all of the classes with which you overloaded your schedule. Make sure you’re keeping things in balance - if you burn out, you lose your ability to manage your time in school effectively.

Take a reasonable amount of credit hours each semester, an amount that allows you to get A’s in every class. Your GPA will suffer if your ambition is disproportionate to your ability!

Many students who overload their course schedule find themselves spread too thin or prioritizing one or two classes over the rest of their classes. No matter how you shake it, overloading yourself is more likely to result in bad news than good.

Don’t Skip Class

This may be a no-brainer, but if you’re in a huge school where your presence (or lack thereof) might go unnoticed, it can be tempting to skip class–particularly if you’re sleep-deprived (or worse, hung over). Don’t fall prey to this temptation.

Once you see how easy it is to skip class (in the short term), you’ll be more and more inclined to do so–to the detriment of your grades. If you miss important lectures (or worse, quizzes and tests) you’ll be playing catch-up all semester. Go to class.

Take Notes and Develop a Note-taking System

Most students don’t know how to take good notes–and that’s okay. You get better with practice. You’ll start to recognize what’s important to write down and what isn’t. How you take notes doesn’t matter–if they’re messy and in shorthand, fine. If they’re color-coordinated and meticulous, that’s fine too. You can always reformat and edit your notes later.

We discuss many note-taking strategies and techniques in the Ultimate Time Management for Teens and Students course! Be sure to enroll today if you’re curious about becoming a better student in high school and college (with more free time and better grades!)

Experiment with different note-taking processes until you’ve found a process that works for you. Lectures form the basis of many courses–so take good notes.

Don’t Rely on Wikipedia or SparkNotes

Again, you’d be surprised. Many students in high school have discovered how easily they quickly Google a topic and produce a throwaway written assignment based on those quick Google results.

In high school, this might have escaped unnoticed, but it’s highly unlikely the same will be true in college. This likely isn’t your professor’s first rodeo, and he or she will not take kindly to you if it seems as though your ideas are the result of a quick Google search.

Form a Study Group

Study groups can be highly effective for saving time and getting better grades (a topic we devote an entire lecture to in Ultimate Time Management for Teens and Students).

This can be hugely important for some people. You are who you surround yourself with. When you’re alone, it’s easy to zone out and get absorbed in music, Netflix, or your phone. When you’re with others who are working, who have carved out a chunk of their time to work, their presence will likely invigorate your own work.

Find a group of friends and work with them. It makes work more enjoyable and you’re more likely to focus. Of course, studying with your best friends could result in getting distracted. As a result, it’s wise to take breaks to chat and unwind.

Believe in Yourself

It’s a cliché for a reason. If you don’t believe that you can get all A’s, it’s highly unlikely that you will. You can do it! It takes discipline and maturity–and that’s precisely what college is all about.

To truly master your time, grades, and overall success in high school and college, take our Ultimate Time Management for Teens and Students course!

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