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Back to School: How to Graduate from College with a High GPA

Back to School: How to Graduate from College with a High GPA

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    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.

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    1. One Hour a Day

    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.

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    2. Frontload Easy Courses

    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.

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    3. Join (or Form) Study Groups

    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.

    4. Use Personal Development/Affirmations

    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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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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