I graduated from UC-Berkeley in December, 2000 with a far less than stellar GPA. But, I took everything I learned from my mistakes and guided my younger sister to graduating with honors in a much more challenging major. Looking back I really wasn’t prepared for the challenges of college life and if I had been aware of the advice below, which I gave my sister before she entered college, I would have easily graduated with a high GPA.
One of the most challenging things about college is time management. It’s not that you don’t have enough. In fact you usually have too much time, and as a result time gets wasted. In his home study course on success Jack Canfield identified a simple distinction between 3.0 students and 4.0 students. 4.0 students took good notes in class, and spent one hour reviewing their notes everyday before they went to sleep. By doing this they utilized the power of the subconscious to absorb information and by the time exams came around they knew all the material on a subconscious level. 3.0 students by contrast tried to cram the night before exams. Considering the amount of free time you usually have in college, one hour a day is not much considering the long term benefits.
If there’s one tip I gave my sister that helped her most to graduate with a high GPA, it was to frontload easy courses. What does that mean exactly? In your first semester of college, load up on as many “easy A’s” as possible. There are several reasons for this. The first semester of college is full of distractions as it is, and there are probably even more today than when I was in college thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and more. The last thing you want to do is add difficult coursework to this. The other reason frontloading is powerful is that it allows you to start off your college career with an extremely high GPA. Good grades have less and less of an impact on your GPA later in your college career and raising your GPA becomes much more difficult. Frontloading also leaves room for the occasional screw up when coursework becomes more challenging. By frontloading my younger sister finished her first semester with a 3.9, got a C later in college, and still graduated with honors.
If you go to a large public school where classes often have 700 plus people, study groups are an extremely effective way to ensure good grades. Study groups are often led by older students who have taken the course and received A’s in that particular course. They also often provide you with resources such as practice tests, practice problems, and many others that might not be provided by professors. I had a friend who never attended lecture for organic chemistry (I don’t recommend this), but always attended study group, and ended up with an A- in the class.
I can honestly say I was not at all involved in personal development when I was in college. Looking back I realize that I suffered from low self esteem and a very unhealthy self image. Without a doubt this had a negative impact on my GPA. But, if I had combined personal development techniques with the 3 steps above, my college career would have turned out very differently.
If you have already started school, I recommend developing a strategy that incorporates these 4 ideas into your current schedule. If you haven’t started school yet, do some research on easier courses and what study groups might be available. If you follow through and commit to the 4 recommendations above, you’ll set yourself up for a very successful first semester, and hopefully a very successful college career. Good luck to all of you starting the college journey.
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