What is college success? Straight A's? Publishing while you're still a student? Landing a killer job after you graduate? Building enough skills and connections to support you as you launch into the 'real world'?
There are many ways to define it, but there are four simple things you can do to improve your grades, make your professors know who you are, and advance your academic career.
Underlying the four steps is one basic principle:
Love what you do.
So much goes into being a college student. Writing essays and assignments, attending lectures, going to events, partying, saving money (or trying to make it), late night study sessions. All of it constant, all of it threatening to overwhelm you.
What if you could learn to love the chaos?
Or more than that - what if you could put the chaos to work for you?
Here's how to cover all your bases and grow successful, without collapsing from stress. Loving what you do means finding ways to make what you need to do easier and more fun.
1. Up your Essay and Assignment Game
Spend time to save time. Learn a formula for writing A+ essays that you can use over and over on all of your assignments. Formulas exist, and they work. Stop stressing when you have to write a paper. Come to it clear headed and confident every time by taking the time to learn how to write an essay.
They don't teach you this stuff in class. Professors expect you to have learned how to write college level essays in high school (which you didn't), and that you'll be improving your skills in their class (which takes forever).
I once wrote 74 A-grade essays in a 6-month period (and two of them were upwards of 40 pages). I've got a step-by-step method for writing every kind of essay and you can my formulas for writing better essays, faster right here:
2. Attend Outside Events
The more places your professors see you the better. The front row of class - yes. In office hours - yes. At an outside event - yes! As an English major I attended fiction and poetry readings each week.
These are social events where you can get in some quality 'hang' time and up your academic game as well. There's often wine and snacks at these kinds of events, so you get to basically party and promote yourself as a great student at the same time.
Find events in your field, preferably (if not exclusively) events where one of your professors or GSI's will be and make sure they see you're there. That means talk to them!
3. Build your Tribe
Find people who do what you love. That way, when you're studying, you're hanging out with friends. Or when you go to events, you're there with friends which makes talking to your professors and networking a whole lot easier.
Check out this video on how to make friends in college that help you get better grades.
Arrange a weekly study group session and ask your prof or GSI to email the students in class about it. Make a digital flyer for it to attach to the email. You're getting bonus points with the professor by setting yourself apart and helping raise class success.
Make the study session awesome. If it's in a cafe, make it a versatile cafe...one with couches, a fireplaces, food, coffee, beer, wine, etc. Don't host in a private space, like your dorm, if you don't know who's going to show up.
Gather personal emails so you can write them directly. Then you can invite choice people from the group to go to events with you.
4. Don't Take on More than you can Handle
There are electives for a reason. Use them wisely. Structure your schedule so you have 2-3 core focus classes, and the rest that are going to be EASY. Classes can still be densely informative, interesting, and still be easy. In fact, one of the easiest classes I took at UC Berkeley as an undergrad was a graduate class.
Use Rate my Professor. Look at the syllabus on the first day.
Make sure you're setting yourself up for success by noting if the class has too much reading or too many assignments in tandem with your other classes.
You'll not only do better if you take a lighter load, you'll probably learn more too if you struggle less.
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