Have your best semester ever

Opportunities for improvement are abundant on the path of higher education and with fall semester behind them, students gear up for winter 2014. For some, the previous semester brought around a slew of learning experiences both good and bad, but many of life’s lessons are learned through trial and error. In order to start off on the right foot, students should enter the right frame of mind for success by developing some new habits practical for a lifetime of success.

Start the semester in a great state of mind

The power of positive thinking is endless and it is vital to begin the semester dedicated to improvement. Before settling into the winter semester, students should learn to let go of the mistakes previously made in fall and devote themselves to starting fresh. It is also important to understand what may have gone wrong and learn from these mistakes in order to come out of the next semester with the best GPA possible.

Develop great habits at the start

Getting into a study routine at the beginning of the semester will help build positive habits right off the bat, keeping students ahead of the homework game. Designate hours each week specifically for study time, developing a learning routine as a surefire way to improve homework test scores. Visual aids are an excellent tool for keeping on track. Mark determined times and dates on a calendar that will be strictly for studies and be sure to place the calendar in a place it will at least receive a daily glance such as the door to the fridge or bathroom wall.

Stay honest

It should go without saying students shouldn’t cheat, but it’s always worth repeating. Cheating on exams or hiring someone to write a term paper is only cheating the student in the long run so it’s best to just hit the books and get an honest grade. Many courses are set up with grades dependent mostly on exam scores and a final and even students that manage to cheat their way through smaller grades wind up bombing the final anyway, leading to a lower overall grade.

Extra time and extra credit

Devoting extra time to a course will most likely reflect in the final grade. When it comes to exams,
add an extra hour to your usual preparation time. Take a moment for one final revision on essays, as well as larger papers. Reading through the entire textbook instead of just cliff notes will also increase the student’s overall knowledge of course material. In addition, utilizing any extra credit opportunities that come along, regardless of current progress, can assist in assuring a higher grade when unfortunate mishaps do occur.

Set up the right priorities

Students have learned the hard way that putting off class work and studies until the last minute can lead to lower grades and higher stress. There is nothing worse than waiting until the last minute to complete an assignment only to find the assignment needed more time devoted to it than is left, often resulting in a lowered grade. Work today, play tomorrow is a mindset destined to create more self-discipline in studies and is a concept that can be applied in future career fields as well.

Work with your professors

Professors want their hard-working students to succeed and will often work to assist them in reaching their goals. Ask about small extra credit opportunities such as adding color to a presentation assignment or writing an additional paragraph in essays. Even if the extra work only amounts to an added point here and there, those points will add up towards the semester’s end.

Most professors are happy to give students periodic progress reports either by email or paying a visit to them during their designated office hours. If a student finds they are falling below expectations, speaking to the professor about missed work or low grades could often lead to opportunities for improvement a student couldn’t have found otherwise.

Avoid distractions

When studying, choose a quiet spot away from social areas whenever possible. Since much of studying is done online, do not have additional tabs open with distracting websites such as social media platforms. In some cases, excellent free apps are available through iOS, Android and most web browsers that can assist in keeping these distractions disabled during study time. Listening to music, text messaging and other fun but harmful activities should be avoided during allotted study hours. An effective way to deal with distractions is by working with a study schedule. Working for 25 minutes with a 5 minute break between them can improve the use of time.

Develop relationships with your classmates

Classmates can play an essential role during courses if utilized correctly. Exchange information with at least one classmate on the first day of a new course so you can exchange notes in the event of an absence or get information missed during a lecture. Study groups serve two valuable purposes that will help increase course performance. Students can receive assistance from classmates that may have a better handle on the information. Teaching another student the materials of a class has been proven to increase memory retention, benefiting everyone in the group.

Get organized and involved

Each student should set up a system for organization that makes sense to his or her specific situation. This may include using separate binders for each class with a homework folder to keep notes and other materials easily accessible. Staying on top of your organizing also assists in avoiding the loss of valuable study time sifting through messy folders for one particular set of notes. Get involved in the course through class participation. Ask questions when something isn’t distinctly understood and answer questions during lecture frequently.

The Power of Note Cards

The use of flash cards dates back to the days of grade school arithmetic and is equally as useful now. Writing out bulleted notes for a course and studying them nightly will increase a course grade. Mix the cards up each night to assure that the materials are being learned not memorized and add new note for each new section covered. Keep the notes short and simple, using keywords to remember full sets of information.

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