For those of you whose grades weren’t too stellar last semester, don’t panic. It’s a new semester, and that means another shot at making the 4.0 that would make you and your parents proud. The good news is that, at the beginning of the semester, A’s aren’t quite as out of reach as you might think.
More often than not, students, especially freshmen with precious few credits, feel as though one bad semester not only ruins their GPA, but also their chances of graduate school or finding a job. But take it from someone who has been there — it is possible to bounce back, and there are a few things you can do once class starts that will set you up for success come finals time.
Before you get too far into your coursework, here are some of the most tried-and-true ways upperclassmen make their classes easier to tackle.
1. Get to know your professors from the get-go
Perhaps one of the most important (and least utilized) resources afforded to students is also one of the most accessible — their professors. It can be hard in 300-student lectures, but try to make a solid effort at getting to know your professors from the first day of class. This includes going to office hours, asking questions and discussing coursework after class. They will appreciate the interest and remember your face when the time comes to grade finals.
But it’s not always easy to bond with a professor that you don’t particularly like. That’s why many students use websites ,such as RateMyProfessors, to get a general idea of what to expect before registering for classes. Granted, these sites aren’t always the most credible sources of information, but there’s no shame in using them as a starting point.
2. Make at least one friend in each class
Missing class at least once during the semester is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on any crucial information. Make friends within the first few weeks and exchange contact information in order to stay caught up with what is going on, while also building a study group. Want to be the class MVP? Start a Google notes doc — it’s the easiest way to compile everyone’s notes in one place and can be shared with as many people as you like.
3. Schedule required study times
When selecting classes for the upcoming semester, it’s important to pencil in some required study times. Let’s be honest, constantly saving homework to do at night usually leads to binge-watching Netflix documentaries or giving up and going to bed abnormally early. A good rule of thumb is to carve out about 30 minutes every day for each class you’re taking. Choose a specific place to study — whether that is the library, a coffee shop or even a shady tree on the quad — to make sure you take homework as seriously as class attendance.
4. Begin healthy, daily habits
Of course, school is about much more than just sitting through lectures and studying every day. Maintaining good habits from the very beginning, such as getting enough sleep and eating the right foods, has been proven to help stimulate brain activity.
To help you get up early for morning classes, try using the Sleep Cycle iPhone app, which uses motion-sensing technology to wake you up gently from a deep sleep. Make sure you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables by using the MyFitnessPal app, which helps track what you eat and how much you exercise — perfect for those with ambitious New Year’s resolutions.
School is all about balance, and keeping up your fitness as well as your schoolwork may just be the ticket to making the most of your classes in 2015.