Follow these 10 tips for good grades…and improved learning
1. Read the course syllabus carefully. Keep it handy throughout the term and check it weekly to be sure you’ve completed all of the required readings and assignments.
2. Anticipate that there will be stressful periods in the academic term. Put assignment due dates into your calendar, and set interim goals for completing larger projects. If you don’t have or use a personal calendar, now is the time to get started to help you plan ahead.
3. Make a point of contributing in every class, even if it’s just to ask (versus answer) a question. This helps the instructor get to know you personally and signals that you’re actively involved and trying hard.
4. Take notes, even if the instructor posts slide decks to the course website. Notes help you absorb new information, and they complement slide decks and readings. Note-taking is an important skill and takes practice; the more you do it, the more effective and useful your notes will be for you.
5. Check in with the instructor if you aren’t sure of anything. Better to find out ahead of time, than via a low grade due to a misunderstanding on your part about course content or assignments. Don’t be shy – faculty genuinely want their students to succeed and are eager to help.
6. If you are emailing your instructor, be sure to communicate like a professional. That means using correct spelling and a somewhat formal tone. (Also, keep in mind that if you send the faculty an email Friday afternoon you might not hear back until the following Monday.)
7. Before submitting ANY written work, double (triple) check your spelling, grammar, syntax, formatting. If writing is not your strength, access a tutor to help with editing.
8. Keep in mind that if you’re struggling in the course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We all struggle when we’re learning new things. And learning new stuff is why you’re in school.
9. If you are REALLY struggling, ask for help. Is it because of the course content? Other things happening in your life? Time management? A health or mental health problem? There are lots of supports available to students through educational institutions and in the community – but they only work if you access them.
10. Last but not least, follow three simple steps for success in school (and in life).