Invariably, many students who do well in high school go to college or university and fall apart. They are suddenly confronted with more freedom and more independence than they know how to handle.
This often results in a poor Grade Point Average (GPA) for their first semester or year. Unfortunately, once a GPA is established, it can be incredibly difficult to improve. Students need to ensure that their first year’s grades are as high as possible because those freshman classes are some of the easiest they are likely to take during their college career.
However, students can easily avoid disappointing grades, and a disappointed family, by following a few simple guidelines.
First, though it may seem like a given, go to class!
This is easier said than done, particularly because many freshman classes are early morning classes. Don’t give into the urge to skip classes, even though the subject is familiar or uninteresting. Skipping class is a guaranteed way to miss assignments, changes to assignment instructions, or altered deadlines.
It’s also hard to go to class because new friends and roommates have different schedules. Roommates might not have class until noon, making it exasperating to get up for an 8 am class, especially if they’ve been awake all hours of the night having fin. Regardless of the time or the excuses, go to class. For some classes, attendance will count towards the overall grade for the class. Going to class can be an easy way to ensure an A for around ten percent of the overall grade.
Second, make sure to participate in class.
Don’t just sit in class like a brain-dead zombie, staring off into space and day dreaming. Stay focused and actively listen to the professor, even if the material is repetitive or common knowledge. Be sure to ask questions, answer problems, volunteer, and take notes. Taking notes will make it far easier to complete homework assignments, study for future exams, and retain the information discussed in class. Like attendance, participation can also be factored into the overall grade, although this will vary from class to class, professor to professor, and school to school.
Third, stay on top of course work.
It can be tempting, but don’t leave home work assignments until the last minute. Most colleges and universities have consequences for late work, such as a reduced grade. Some professors refuse to take any late work, regardless of the reason or excuse. Missing one or two assignments can devastate the overall grade. And do not count on extra credit assignments to make up for missed classwork.
Very few professors and instructors will assign extra credit to students who have failed to make even a minimal effort in their class. Even if an assignment is only partially completed or done poorly, turn it in if the teacher does not accept late work. A partial grade is going to be far better than a zero. Furthermore, the professor is more likely to assign extra credit or an alternative assignment to students who are putting forth some effort.
And lastly, staying on track with course work will reduce the amount of cram sessions and all-nighters. Cramming for tests or writing essays in the early hours of the morning is not ideal. Studying little by little or writing an essay page by page over the week before the due date is a far better approach.