1. Get to know your teachers, department heads, and classmates.
On the first day of class you should introduce yourself to your professor and make a personal connection. This could be by finding a common interest by making conversation after class or by sharing and actively participating during class time. The main idea is to show your desire to learn and to show respect to the educator.
In addition, the professor might be more willing to give you a second chance or help correct any issue that will (and I mean will!) arise when you actually get into a fender bender on the way from re-printing the homework your dog chewed up.
Also, get to know the faculty in your department. They can be very helpful when you need help or advice. It is not uncommon for a faculty member to assist you in getting an internship, to write you a professional reference, or to get you into a class you really need.
Finally, make friends and acquaintances in your classes. You never know when you might need help or a favor from someone with whom you feel comfortable. Additionally, working in groups is a great way to blend social and academic life as well as make both professional and personal relationships. It may be easier to start an after-class study group or join a group project if you have already broken the ice.
2. Study smarter, not harder.
Are you one of those students that hates studying for hours only to get a much lower grade than you expected? You may need to change your method of studying. Sure, flashcards and rewriting notes are all great tools, but some classes can’t be studied effectively in just those ways. Take biology, for example: a note card can tell you what Charles Darwin was famous for, but not about the details of natural selection. Mind mapping is a great technique for this and can be used with relative ease.
Also, avoid writing verbatim what the teacher says in class lectures. Instead, make quick notes using shorthand to help you understand a concept. For example, a slide show probably has the same words your textbook does, and you will be wasting your own time rewriting them if you are just copying notes. It is about knowing the material, not having the material.
3. Take tests the correct way.
Test taking is about testing your knowledge, not how well you memorize. Even if you study smart but have poor test taking skills, you are withholding from yourself your true potential. Simple mistakes or misreadings will lead to a lower score despite how well you know the material.
First, get an overall view of what the test asks you to do. Is it multiple choice, question and answer, essay, or fill in the blank? What topics are covered? How much time do you have and how many questions are there?
Next, once you quickly make note of the test as a whole, read each question slowly, answer it mentally, reread the question with the answer in mind, then mark your answer. This will help keep you from misreading the question or marking the wrong answer by accident.
Also, if your time is limited, answer all the questions you can answer quickly and come back to the others. This helps you from spending several minutes mentally spinning your wheels, losing focus, and wasting time. Also, sometimes a later question can some light on an earlier question.
4. Make sure you can make time for both school and social activities.
Too much socializing can keep you from studying and turning in assignments on time. Alternatively, always studying can cause burnout, as well as loneliness and depression which can negatively affect your health and academics. Find a healthy balance: don’t sacrifice an assignment for a good time, but be sure to have fun and reward yourself for working hard.
Also, even if you study, get good test grades, and find a healthy balance of your time, bad attendance can affect your overall grade dramatically. This includes getting to class, getting there on time, being prepared with paper, pencil, and books, and participating during class.
Sometimes the ugly face of procrastination always seems to show no matter how hard we try to stifle it. We may find ourselves making excuses that we chronically over sleep, and for afternoon classes that we lost track of time. Many times, however, these issues are a result of lacking willpower: we like to take our long lunch breaks and wait until two minutes past time to leave and become mad because a red light made us late.
There are some helpful solutions. Take preventive measures by setting your alarm clock ahead 10 minutes. In effect, when you consciously run by this altered time, you will always be 10 minutes earlier that you usually would.
Also, you can set up an alarm on your phone or device that reminds you 15 minutes before and when you need to leave. Or, you can even set it to chime every half hour to keep your body in sync with the time.
Another thing you should do is get to your destination at least 30 minutes early. The problem many have in doing this is that they are terrified of being bored for a few minutes. This can be fixed by making a phone call, checking your email, playing a game, or getting on your favorite social media site while you sit comfortably. With your busy schedule, it is rare to have guilt-free playtime. The earlier you get to class, the more playtime you get for getting to class on time.