Get Good Grades in College
Everyone hopes to get good grades in college. Some have more success than others, and it’s not always because they are smarter.
Once upon a time, two students in a college composition course both got a C minus on their first essay. One left the room in tears and dropped the class. The other went to the professor's office hours and asked how he could improve his grade-and his writing. For the rest of the semester, this student met regularly with the professor. He began turning in better work and earned an A in the class.
Both these students earned their grades and chose how to respond to them. One chose to quit. The other chose to improve.
That approach isn't a guarantee you’ll get good grades in college, but there is nothing to lose by visiting a professor during office hours. It takes guts and character for students to walk into a professor's office, but those efforts pay off.
Certainly it's disappointing to get a low grade on a project you worked hard on. But grades are just grades. They're not who you really are, and they're changeable! You earn them, you can improve them. So after the disappointment, pick yourself up, go to office hours and ask for help.
The fact is, your professors want you to succeed and get good grades in college. They're thrilled if you show the interest and effort to come to see them during office hours. That's why they schedule them. It's not only their job, but their mission to inspire you to learn.
And if the professor's personality seems gruff or short, see it as another opportunity not to take it personally. You are still making an impression. They still want and need to get to know you in order to evaluate your work. The minute you show your face at their door, your grade has a good chance of going up.
There are other ways to get better grades, demonstrate effort and prove your worth. A good start is to attend every class, whether you think you need to or not. You can't get a good grade if you don't go to class anymore than you can get a paycheck for not going to work.
Ways to Get Better Grades
Working hard certainly has its benefits, but there are other ways to get better grades too. When you get to class, sit in front. Seek out other good students. Be prepared. Have your notebook and textbook open and ready before class begins. Don't put it away until class ends. Look interested, or at least awake. If you're sleepy, bring a soda or gum to class. Take notes. Do the work. Ask questions. Go the extra mile.
One of the best ways to get better grades is to ask for assistance. Seek help in other places. Most campuses have tutoring services or study centers, often available for no charge. It's a misconception that only students who are failing use these services. Sometimes, it's actually the "A" students. Study centers are often the secret hideouts of the best in the class. Try forming a study group with some fellow center attendees. You can improve your grade and make some good friends at the same time. Studies have shown that students who take advantage of study groups and tutoring do significantly better than students who don't. Extra help helps!
As one student struggling with low grades on her math tests said, "It finally hit me that waiting for the answers to come to me by magic out of the sky was not one of the best ways to get better grades. I was going to have to go get some help!" Once she began working regularly with a math tutor, her grades and her confidence both got a big boost.
Most importantly, don't let a grade dictate what you are or are not good at. College is about what you are interested in, about what you want to become professionally and personally.
The aforementioned "A" student's success started with a brave knock on a college professor's door. Some students call it obsequious, others call it "sucking up." But know what most professors call it? Effort.
And effort, along with improvement, counts for a lot. You’ll get good grades in college if you work hard and work smart.
Sheila Griffin is a lecturer in English at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.