13 Steps to Systematically Improve Your Academic Year in College

There are many expectations set for college students. One expectation is for students to earn good grades in order to excel academically. The following steps will help improve your academic performance.

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Step 1: Find out what motivates you.

Think about the factors that motivate you to perform exceptionally in your studies. Whether it is being an overachiever or setting the goal of having straight A's in order to attend a prestigious university, you will need to invest time and effort. All of that investment is worthwhile, especially when you set realistic goals that are challenging but attainable. A few ideas for academic goals include finishing every reading assignment before class, pursuing extra credit assignments or keeping your grade point average above a certain level.

Step 2: Do your homework.

There are many benefits to completing your homework on time. First, you'll have an opportunity to put into practice what you learned. Second, you'll get an idea of what concepts you can't seem to understand fully, which will require you seek additional help. Third, you'll be on the same page as your professor and won't fall behind. Lastly, you'll earn the points you need to maintain good grades.

Step 3: Always attend class.

Most college classes only meet once or twice per week, which means that missing one class can drastically affect you. It will be up to you to make sure you're going to your classes and only skipping them when you are really ill or for extreme emergencies. Missing class without a legitimate cause can prevent you from learning important material that will come up in a future exam, which will make you fall behind. You may also be tempted to start slacking off, which will be frowned upon by your professors.

Step 4: Participate in all class components.

Make sure you attend all required meetings even if they are outside of class, such as a field trip scheduled by your professor. Some professors will require you to visit the writing lab before submitting an essay or to attend a group study session before an exam. It is your responsibility to contact your professor to explain if you are unable to attend a scheduled class component, and it won't hurt to ask if there is some way to make it up.

Step 5: Focus on what interests you.

You'll probably be forced to take courses that are not in your field of interest. However, you can decide to mix your class schedule by taking a couple of general education courses and a couple of courses within your field. It would be wise to take electives aligned with your major; that way, you can meet both the general education requirements and the prerequisites for your major. Ultimately, you have a greater probability of earning better grades in classes that interest you.

Step 6: Be disciplined and organized.

It's important that you hold yourself accountable in achieving all of your academic goals successfully. You can get organized by jotting down important due dates in a physical or digital agenda. Make sure not to procrastinate, and allow ample time for studying and completing assignments and projects rather than cramming the night before they're due. These good habits will help you earn the high grades that you desire.

Step 7: Develop good study habits.

Make sure to adopt valuable study habits, such as the following:

•Show up to class on time.

•Take thorough class notes.

•Make flashcards.

•Find a study group.

•Ask for help if you don't understand something discussed in class by emailing or visiting your professor.

•Prioritize your time.

Step 8: Set realistic goals.

Create a list of short-term and long-term academic and personal goals that you hope to achieve. Make sure that your goals are realistic in terms of when you would like to accomplish them. Don't over-commit yourself by setting too many goals all at once; otherwise, you might be disappointed if you aren't able to achieve them on time.

Step 9: Connect with your professors.

Your professors have a lot more to offer you than just class lectures, if you make the effort to seek their help. If you're struggling in a class, talk to the professor about it during her or his office hours; she or he may be able to point you to additional resources or clarify a point that's confusing you. Your professors can also share information about on- and off-campus events and groups related to your major, since they often serve as club advisors or hold leadership positions in professional associations in their field. Additionally, if you want to go on to graduate school, you'll need recommendation letters from your professors. If you take the time to connect with them, they'll be able to write a more accurate, individualized recommendation about your academic skills and personal character.

Step 10: Meet with a school advisor.

Seek advice from a college counselor if you continue to have a hard time improving your grades. A school advisor can inform you of additional resources, such as tutoring or supplemental courses, to help you succeed in your studies.

Step 11: Get involved in extracurricular activities.

The skills you'll use while participating in a club, athletic activity or other organization will also be valuable in your studies. For example, extracurricular activities require commitment skills, just as your academics do. You'll also be practicing your time management skills as you balance your schedule to fit in both studying and activities.

Step 12: Learn how to deal with stress.

Unfortunately, stress is inevitable; therefore, you'll need to find ways of dealing with stress effectively and efficiently. Some ways of coping with stress include journaling, going out for a nature walk, laughing, breathing in and out, and talking to a friend. Find out more ways of dealing with college stress.

Step 13: Study for tests.

Make sure to study hard before taking a test. Do not take it lightly by cramming the night before or by not studying at all. Even if you feel pretty confident with certain material, you should not take any chances and make sure to review your notes before taking a test. It is important that you take every test seriously in order to excel in your classes.

Once you've adjusted to life as a college student, follow these helpful tips to make the most of your educational experience.

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