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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 September 20, 2018

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

    When you train your brain, you will:

    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

    1. Work your memory

    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

    For example, say you just met someone new:

    “Hi, my name is George”

    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

    Got it? Good.

    2. Do something different repeatedly

    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

    But how does this apply to your life right now?

    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

    3. Learn something new

    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

    4. Follow a brain training program

    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

    5. Work your body

    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

    6. Spend time with your loved ones

    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

    The bottom line

    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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