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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 January 21, 2020

    What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

    What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

    Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

    Can I Be Creative?

    The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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    How Creativity Works

    Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

    What Really Is Creativity?

    Creativity Needs an Intention

    Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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    Creativity Is a Skill

    At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

    Start Connecting the Dots

    Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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