Are you the type of person who starts every semester with that little promise to yourself – “I’m going to make this my best semester ever!” Do you start the semester strong, get lazy during the middle then cram when it comes time for finals? Maybe you’re the type of person who feels like they do everything right but just can’t seem to make the grades they desire.
If you can relate to any of the above questions then this article is for you. Most students start the semester strong because they have a fresh slate to work with. Then, as the semester drags on, apathy kicks in and students loose sight of their goals.
In this article I want to address the 5 main reasons students fail to make the grades they desire. I hope these points help you see where you might be going wrong.
1. Not Believing in Yourself
The first step to achieving your goals is having confidence. I cannot stress how important this is. If a bad test grade discourages you or you accidentally sleep in and miss an important class, you can’t give up.
Some of my worst grades in college came from not believing in myself. I remember I took a class my freshmen year called “History of Print Media”. Sounds interesting right? Well it turned out to be one of the worst grades I’ve ever received, not because the class was hard but because I didn’t believe I could write a 12-page research paper. I doubted myself, and I ended up with a bad grade because of it. Since then I’ve written several papers of that length and many of them were longer.
If you start doubting yourself, take a step back and think about how important your goals are. Remind yourself that the only thing preventing you from achieving your goals is yourself. If you can’t prepare yourself mentally then you will never have the confidence to make the grades you want when the going gets tough.
2. Bad Time Management/Organization
If you don’t own a planner, get one. I personally use iCal on my Mac, which also syncs with my iPhone. If you are techno savvy, this is an excellent way to organize your life. Make sure your planner includes everything:
- Test dates from your syllabus
- Project deadlines
- Last day to drop a class
- School holidays
- Professor office hours
- Club and Organization Meetings and Events
- Doctor’s Appointments
- Football/Basketball Home Games (not required but it helps me)
- Final Exam/Midterm dates and times
- Any other event or task that you need to be aware of
Doing this will drastically reduce your stress level. It allows you to know when your “busy” weeks will be, and to plan accordingly.
3. Lacking Prioritization
As a senior in college, I am extremely busy. I’m taking 15 hours of classes, I work 30 hours a week at an internship, I write for my own blog and guest posts like this one, I have job-interviews every other week and I still manage to make it to the gym 5 days a week. So how do I manage to do all of these things while getting my homework done? The simple answer is prioritizing.
I keep a ‘To-Do List’ along with my planner with things that need to be completed but do not have a deadline. For example, getting a haircut and updating my resume are both on my list.
Once you’ve created a ‘To-Do List’ choose the most important task from your planner and your “To-Do List” with the closest due date, and complete it.
If you’re the student who starts strong and gets lazy in the middle of the semester, this section is for you. In order to make good grades you must be consistent with your studies. This means treating each exam, paper, quiz, project and assignment the same. The first test of the semester is just as important as the final exam.
If you struggle with consistency, try studying in groups. If you can surround yourself with people who have the same goals as you, your chances of staying motivated increase greatly.
During the first few weeks of school, make an effort to meet your professor or TA in their office hours. Introducing yourself and talking about your goals with them will give you a head start when it comes to the first exam.
Once you have built a relationship with your professor or TA, you will have someone there who will be willing to help you when you run into trouble during the semester.
What else have you found to get in the way of making the grades you desire? I would love to hear your additions in the comments!