As the hammocks come out and students get back into university life, here are a few tips for getting better grades this year!
“If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something else!” –Unknown-
Do ALL Of The Work
Don’t get a “0” on an assignment by choice. Commit to always turning in something. To get all of your school work done when you have too much (sometimes circumstantially you’ll have to turn in a less than perfect assignment), but that’s better than cheating or lying or just doing nothing. I’m amazed at how many students get bad grades or fail, simply because they’re too okay with getting a 0 on an assignment.
“Lacking the last five yards makes the first ninety-five pointless.” -Max DePree-
“Most people who succeed in the face of seemingly impossible conditions are people who simply don’t know how to quit.” -Robert Schuller-
“You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” -Jerry West-
Pass The First Year “Test” (Determine Not To Quit Prematurely. Make it Back For Year Two)
If you want to finish college, don’t fail the unsaid life “test” of flunking out the first semester or first year. Many students don’t return for their second year of university because they didn’t handle the fun and work well. Their bad grades reflected it. Students who pass the first year grit “test” by returning for a second year, have usually built the strength to go the full distance, if they want to.
“Ninety-five percent of achieving anything is knowing what you want and paying the price to get it.”
“The ability to focus attention on important things is a defining characteristic of intelligence.” -Robert J. Schiller-
Revise and Reread
When you’re talking to people, do your words naturally come out perfectly every time? Was your first painting perfect? Did you win the championship your first year playing sports? No. So why do you expect this to happen whenever you write a paper? No matter how tired or late you are, always take the time to revise and re-read your papers for a better grade. Your first piece is not a perfect work of art. It needs touch ups. Your future boss will appreciate emails, slides, and reports with everything spelled correctly.
“The successful person has the habit of doing the things that failures don’t like to do. The successful person doesn’t like doing them either, but his dislike is subordinated to the strength of his purpose.” –E.M. Gray-
“We do what we have to do, in order to do what we want to do.” -The Great Debators (2008)-
Keep Your Word
Underneath the surface, people that drop out are often putting on a face at times. They’re lying in some way, to keep up. I think there is often a direct correlation between people who get things done with those who are consistently honest. Consistently honest people can face the facts, while dishonest people may excel in some areas, but hiding other areas behind the smiling face or hopeful words. Be hard on yourself about being 100% honest with people and keeping your commitment to school assignments/grades, and you’ll see improvement.
“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” -C.S. Lewis-
“Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.-
“There is no point of putting on the soldier’s armor if there is no soldier underneath.” -Australian’s journal-
Dropouts Usually Aren’t The Busy Students, But The Undisciplined Students.
Watch. Look around you to see who probably won’t be back for the next semester… Is it the super busy and social people with too much on their plate? Or is it more the ones that actually do have time on their hands who are usually spending too much time in their rooms or doing less important things? When students drop out, it’s not usually due to people being too busy, but too undisciplined. You might need to change your friend group or get out, if you’re not getting enough studying done. If you can’t make the disciplined change you need on your own, find friends who really can.
“A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and it’s fighting done by fools.” -Attributed to Thucydides-
“Nothing that does not occur daily will ever dominate your life.” Ralph Winter-
“How we spend our days is – of course – how we spend our lives.” -Annie Dillard-
Ask For Help
It’s almost essential (if not essential) that to get better grades, you need help from other students. You need to be taught how to edit and revise your papers by someone else. My mom helped me learn how to revise my papers growing up, but if you’ve never had someone show you how to write and edit a paper, humble yourself enough to ask for help and potentially feel “stupid” while asking the really basic questions you should probably already know the answers to, until you really get it. Also, some classes are just hard and not where you will naturally excel. Group work and studious friends helped me study and get me through classes I potentially would have failed otherwise. Get help.
“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” -Epictetus-
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” -Henry Ford-
Have A GPA (Or Grade) Goal
My academic scholarship required me to keep a 3.4 GPA. I would’ve loved a 4.0, but staying between a 3.4-3.8GPA was a realistic goal for myself. Even if a scholarship isn’t really at stake, having a GPA goal you hold yourself to is a sign of self-respect. It is self-accountability that says, “I’m going to work hard enough to keep this GPA. Otherwise, deep down, I know that if I don’t keep this GPA, I’m really not trying hard enough and cheating myself and my commitment here by not being frugal with tuition money and not honoring God with my potential inthis time of learning.”
My parents told me, “Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.” I tell my daughters, “Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job.” ~Thomas L. Friedman-
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream…” -C.S. Lewis-
Learn To Embrace The Challenge.
It’s important to go through a stage or season in university where you realize how little you know. Don’t let that stop you or discourage you. Embrace learning & see failures as problems to fix. The working people in life that really excel, often see stress and tension as a tools that help them thrive. They see challenges or tests as a chance to learn something new. No one enjoys being embarrassed too much, but we need to find joy in the moments we fail or at least learn from them… that is exactly why you’re at college. Get back up and try again. You have to learn how to crawl before you walk. You’ll fall many times… and even after some get it, some of us accident prone human being are doomed to a life of falling (and learning how to get back up and move forward again).
Every artist was at first an amateur.” – Ralph W. Emerson-
“What Sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul.” -Joseph Addison-
“I am still learning.” -Michelangelo-
“It if it important you will find a way. If it is not you will find excuses.” -Unknown-
“Mistakes are proof that you are trying.” -Unknown-
“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.” -David M. Burns-
Don’t Leave University With The Same Habits You Brought In. Change And Improve.
University isn’t a place just to have fun, get good grades, and pass through just like you did before. To get better grades, you need to improve or change past habits. You don’t want people who see you however many years later saying, “You haven’t changed one bit.” That’s not a compliment. To get better grades, build better habits.
“Education, like the mass of our age’s inventions, is after all, only a tool; everything depends upon the workman who uses it.” -The Simple Life-
“Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” -Benjamin Franklin-
“Your life does not get better by chance, it get’s better by change.” -Jim Rohn-
Remember, Your Education Is Often Your Future.
Will you pass the “life test” of graduating from university? To employers, the university degree symbolizes new habits, discipline, and maturity just as much as your skill. Graduating from university is not only saying that you “know enough,” it is about saying you have enough stability and consistent habits to be reliable in your future career. It means you have learned how to survive and develop socially around others and will be able to work with a team. See getting the work done at university as an empowering & habit forming time. You’re forming life skills and grit, whether you use your specific area of study or not in your career after university.
“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” -Derek Bok-
“Today a reader. Tomorrow a leader.” -Unknown-
“Today a learner. Tomorrow a leader.” -Unknown-
“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves. Self-discipline with all of them came first.” -President Harry Truman-
Have Fun, Travel, & Pursue New Life Experiences
Those who learn how to “work hard, play hard, and rest hard” will do well in life. It’s not all about work, God also desires for us to enjoy and rest. Variety in life brings us alive and gives us hope. Sometimes the best thing for you to do in order to get a paper done or to get an A on an assignment, is to put the work down, go have a little fun and come back and finish your work later.
“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.” -Alfred Mercier-
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -Augustine of Hippo-