By this point of the semester, all of you freshmen have probably settled in to college life. You’ve probably made some new friends, found your way around campus, and fallen into a daily routine of going to class, socializing, and studying. You might’ve taken your first college exam by now and found out that you were, in fact, not entirely prepared for it and you’re wondering how to get an A in college. Or maybe you were prepared and did really well. Regardless, here are 9 tips for how to get an A in college!
1. Do the reading and don’t cram.
I cannot stress this enough. When professors give you assigned reading, actually do the assigned reading! Obviously, it’s necessary to do the reading if you’re going to be talking about it in class. You don’t want to be the person sitting in the back, trying to act like you’re invisible so you don’t get called on. You also don’t want to be the person who makes up answers as she goes. For one thing, that’s just completely annoying to the other students in your class, and for another, your professor is going to know you don’t actually have a clue what you’re talking about. Do the reading even if you know your professor will not specifically talk about it in class the next day. It will give you a background for the topic you discuss and help your understanding of the particular topic and the class as a whole.
2. Find the style of note taking that works for you.
This is pretty obvious. How are you going to remember what you talked about in class if you don’t take notes? You might remember general ideas but nothing specific. However, you won’t remember that the Warring States Period in China lasted from 403 B.C.E. to 221 B.C.E. You also won’t remember that George Eliot was a realist- that is unless you’re really into ancient China or English literature from the Victorian period. I can’t really tell you how to take notes because that requires a personal style, and what works for me might not work for you and vice versa.
You just have to take notes and figure out what will work best for you by trial and error. College is a lot different than high school because your professors aren’t going to lay everything out for you and tell you to write this down or write that down; you have to figure that out on your own.
3. Do your assignments and don’t put them off.
Again, this is common sense, but some students just don’t do their work, whether it’s reading, writing a response to said reading, or writing a paper. It’s really not that hard to sit down and do your work. It’s much easier to do this than fall behind in your classes and end up with a bad grade that you’ll have to explain to your parents. If you need help with an assignment, ask for it. Talk to someone at your tutoring center, ask a friend for help, or go talk to your professor.
4. Build a relationship with your professor.
In my college experience, every single professor who has ever taught me has wanted his or her students to succeed, which is so awesome. Your professors want you to succeed, too, so if you are having trouble with something- a concept, a reading, a paper- ask your professors for help. Of course, there’s more to it than just asking for things from your professors.
Say hi to them when you see them in the hallway. Ask them how they’re doing before or after class. Tell them you loved the book your class just finished reading. Also, keep in mind that while they want to see you succeed, that doesn’t mean you can demand them to do things for you or that you can give anything less than your absolute best in class and in your work.
5. Find a friend in class who you can study with.
Maybe your new college best friend is in your class, or maybe you don’t know anyone in your class. Whatever the case, it’s important that you’re comfortable enough with someone in your class that you can ask him or her about an assignment or borrow his or her notes should you miss class because you get sick, have a soccer game out of town, or have a family emergency. You could also with this person and even become friends outside of class.
6. Study regularly and in advance.
Don’t just study the night before the exam. You should study a little bit every night so that you can build on your knowledge, and by the time the test comes around, it should be easy to recall everything you’ve learned. This is probably the most important tip for how to get an A in college. However, college life is crazy, and it’s hard to study every night. So, if you start studying a week before your exam, you should still have enough time to ask your professor to clear up any questions you have, and you should have really learned the information, rather than just memorized it.
7. Be flexible with how you study.
It might take a while to find the way that works best for you when studying or taking notes or reading. It may help you to rewrite your notes when studying for a test. You might be able to get more out of your reading if you highlight important points or write down the major ideas. (In fact, I suggest you do this so that you become an active reader.) Don’t panic if you get a bad grade on your first exam or paper. You can bounce back if you are willing to tailor your studying, writing, and/or reading methods until they work best for you.
8. Put your phone away!
It’s incredibly disrespectful to your professors, classmates, and even yourself when you’re texting or looking at Facebook or Instagram during class. You might think you’re really sneaky, by hiding your phone under your desk or in your backpack, but it’s pretty obvious what you’re doing, so put it away and leave it alone for an hour or an hour and a half- however long your class period is. This way you can give your full attention to the class and your professor.
9. Show up to class and don’t just sit there.
This should be so easy, so simple, but a lot of people don’t do it. This is key because if you don’t show up, you can’t take part in class discussions (which are key to your understanding of your classes and also your participation points), you can’t take notes, and you can’t foster a relationship with your professors. It doesn’t end with just showing up, either. A large part of being successful is being present in the class. Don’t sit there in class and stare at the clock the whole time, counting down the time until you get out. Pay attention and actively participate in class; it’s not only a tip for how to get an A in college, but it will also make your classes fun and exciting.
If you follow these tips on how to get an A in college, you should be off to a great start! You might have a few bumps along the way, but if you’re willing to give it your best effort, you will most likely earn an A in your first college class and be successful with every other class you take in the future.