Today: Feb 29, 2024

Semester Survival 101: pass your classes

SIMONE VIRZICopy Editor
Now that we’re in 2012, many people embrace the whole “new year, new me” concept and want to make changes. Maybe you’ve decided it’s a new semester and a fresh start to boost up your GPA. After all, your grades from last semester weren’t as good as you were hoping they would be. Perhaps you did OK but are hoping for straight As this semester. Either way, it never hurts to improve our grades. Try giving these tricks a shot.
Get up and get to Class!
At some point during the semester, you’re not going to want to go to class because you’d rather sleep in or just won’t feel like going. We’ve all been there. But fight the urge and get your butt to class—not five minutes or 15 minutes late, but on time, if not early.
Most professors take attendance, which often plays a factor in your final grade. If the class is only once a week you should really try to make it a point not to miss a class; in a once-a-week class your professor is covering more material, which means more material you will miss.
A trick I’ve done for a few semesters now is really trying not to miss a class before midterms. By doing this, I feel like I have a better grasp on the class. Plus, if you’ve already missed five classes by midterms, it’s highly unlikely you’re not going to miss any more before the end of the semester. If you wait until after midterms, you can skip guilt-free if there’s one day you really don’t feel like going to class. Keep in mind some departments allow a student to miss a certain amount of classes before they fail the course. Regardless if you’re hungover, don’t have makeup on or are still in pajamas, go to class.
Why Take Notes?
Even if you’re not in the most interesting classes, take notes. Force your hand to write. You may think you understand the material, but I suggest writing down key points and examples. When it comes to having to study for a test or writing an essay, you’ll have notes to look back at and use as a reference. After all, it’s not realistic to take five or six classes and remember every single thing from every single class—who can remember every physics formula or history date off the top of their head? That’s why I suggest using a good, old-fashioned pen and notebook (or a laptop). Plus, listening and writing information down can help you retain the information.
Keep Your eye on the Professor
Most of us space out once in a while and enter “la la land,” in which we’re anywhere but stuck in a classroom, but try to focus! Paying attention also means not texting or having a magazine out during class. Not only is it rude to the professor, it’s highly unlikely you can fully comprehend the lecture or the discussion. If the class is having a discussion or your professor asks a question, contribute or answer the question. For many classes, part of the final grade consists of class participation. The more you speak up, the better off you are. I know some people are shy, even during class. But you can’t be afraid to answer or ask your professor a question. Show you’re paying attention and at least semi-care about the class.
Study Buddies
Being friendly to others is one of the most basic things a person can do, whether you’re at the bar or in the classroom. I suggest being friendly with at least one person in every class you have. Maybe you’ve had a class with them before, or you generally sit next to them. So before class starts, why not introduce yourself and make casual conversation? For starters, it never hurts to make friends with someone. Plus, if you miss a class and need notes or want someone to study with, you have someone in the class you can turn to. If you’re taking a class for your major, the further into your college career you go, the more you’ll see you may have classes with the same people. And if you’re in the same major, you already have something in common.
The Early Bird
Whether you have an essay, a project or a lab due, hand it in on time. Duh, right? But you’d be surprised how many times someone emails something in late. If you tend to forget when you have something due, use a planner. Or if you have an iPhone, use the Reminders app. If you have an assignment due Friday but you want to go out Thursday with your friends, get it done ahead of time. The trick to this is staying organized. If you plan ahead and get your assignments done early, you can still go out with your friends. In other words, don’t procrastinate until the last second and then go out instead of write an essay. Ultimately, the trick is finding a balance between school and your social life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to do, especially when you’d rather hang out with friends than work on assignments you don’t particularly care about. However, at the end of the day you’re not getting graded on how many games of beer pong you can win.

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