To say that a large majority of students start off the semester eyeing a 4.0 would be an understatement. So many of us have our minds set on reaching that goal, but unfortunately it’s a pretty hard goal to achieve. While I can’t help you to get that 4.0 GPA, I can give you tips on how to get your best grades possible, which can very well end up being that high GPA you are eyeing. I will be completely honest in saying my first year of college I definitely struggled and it took me a while to adjust, but after implementing these tips my GPA has gone up by leaps and bounds

Read the syllabus. And read ALL of it.

The first week of classes I always print out my syllabi, lay them out, and read over each one word for word. Yes, word for word. I read through with a highlighter to make sure that all of the major, important information stands out to me later in the semester when all I have time to do is simply flip through it. Why read through the syllabus you ask? Well you never know what a professor might include in their syllabus. One of my professors wrote in a different section how often she would give out extra credit in class, one of my professors had a note that if you even looked at your cell phone during class your cumulative grade would be docked by 10%, and one professor even said that they would give a very generous amount of extra credit to the person that had perfect attendance. After I’ve read over the syllabus I take out my planner and write out each and every due date. By doing this, I’m setting myself up for a successful semester. And if I’m being honest, I’ve never missed an assignment, test, quiz, paper, or anything that comes up because of this method.

Strive for perfect class attendance

By having perfect class attendance myself, not only have I gotten all of the hints from professors on what will be covered on the test and all of the in-class extra credit, I’ve also been given extra credit or grade boosts at the end of the year. I kid you not when I say I was sitting at exactly an 80.00% and the professor bumped me not to a B, but to a B+ because of appreciating that I valued going to class. While that kind of a boost doesn’t always happen and hasn’t always happened, going to class and hearing the material in the professor’s voice is always one of the best study methods for me personally.

Take good notes

You are in class already so you might as well be doing something productive while you are there. I personally prefer to handwrite my notes while in class, but whether you handwrite or type your class notes is up to you. Sometimes professors will even post their slides or a note outline online, so make sure to have that printed and ready to go before class. And always make sure to have a buddy in each class so that if you happen to miss you have someone to get notes from and vice versa.

Pay attention in class

If you are actually going to class, you need to use that to your advantage. Pay attention. Don’t sit on your phone or scrolling through Facebook, actually actively be listening to your professor. I can’t imagine if I were teaching a class or even simply presenting to a class and looked out to a class of students not even paying attention to what I had to say.

Review your notes regularly

The best way to retain the information that you learned in class and took notes on is to review those notes. This is one of the strategies that really helps students to be successful on their tests because they not only started reviewing the information early, but they reviewed it when the information was still fresh in their mind from the lecture. Studies actually show much higher retention rates if you review your notes within 24 hours of taking them. Just make sure that as the test information builds to continue to go over all of the information instead of just the most recent material.

Do all of the extra credit offered to you

One of the things that shocked me the most when I got to college was the number of people who don’t do the extra credit. While yes, it seems like just one point, you never know how much that one point could mean to you at the end of the semester. And most of the time, extra credit isn’t something that will take up too much of your time to complete. I promise, it’s worth the time. Do it.

Go to tutoring and office hours

I’m a business major which at my university means lots of math classes. More math classes than any business minded person should have to take for that matter. With all of that said, I’m not the most math minded person out there. For some reason, I can’t just sit down and figure out how a problem was solved on my own. By going to tutoring and office hours to get help on my homework I’ve been able to learn all kinds of things I would have never picked up on myself. Taking the time to go to office hours has totally paid off in my preparation for test as well because I either already know how to do the problem or I simply have to go through and review without having to reteach myself everything or rush to tutoring or office hours for help and battle the crowds.

Prepare for all exams, projects, and papers in advance

While it is sometimes possible to cram all of the information into your head at the last minute before an exam, it’s not the best way to learn the information. Be conscious of when your tests, projects, and papers are scheduled and give yourself enough time to get things done and get things done well. Once I realized that college was nothing like high school where I could simply study information the night before the test and be good to go, I saw a huge improvement in my grades.

Always have the rubric out and ready to go when working on assignments, projects, and papers

If you have a paper, assignment, or project coming up it’s highly likely that your professor has published a rubric online or even in your syllabus. Sit down and read over the rubric so you know what is expected of you. Even have the rubric out when you start working on your assignment so that you can follow what is listed in the rubric so your work matches what your professor wants.

Read the textbook

Yes, that textbook that you paid a crazy amount of money for at the beginning of the semester is actually useful. I’m a big advocate of reading the chapters for the week before class so that you are better able to pick up information during lecture. If I already have the information in my head from reading it over beforehand, I’ll pick up a lot more information during the lecture than I would not having read anything in the first place.

What tips do you use to be a successful student? Do you plan to implement any of these tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

My memorization skills where what got me through high school. It’s how I easily remembered and could recall every president of the U.S., memorized documents from history, and knew math formulas. I made my way through hundreds of flashcards and mnemonics each semester and always saw success from doing so. I would even sit and rewrite and repeat to myself the things that I couldn’t memorize to make it stick in my mind. Once I got to college I realized that other people didn’t memorize or study like I did and I realized that I might have a few tips to share.


This is a major component to memorization. Whether you repeatedly say something out load, go over the same flashcards, or review the same sections of the study guide over and over, repetition is key. It’s the way to finally drill those last five flashcards that you can’t understand into your mind. It might take a little bit of time to get all of the information into your head, but that time is completely worth it.


Did you ever have a math teacher in elementary school, middle school, or even high school use PEMDAS with you? You know, parenthesis, exponents, multiply, divide, add, and subtract? That is a mnemonic. In elementary school I remember always struggling with memorization and getting so frustrated trying to remember everything for my science tests, then my mom heard me recite PEMDAS off to my brother as he struggled through his math homework and she knew there had to be a way to incorporate that into my studying. So obviously, mnemonics is something I have used and that has been useful for me for a while. If there is a series of something that I need to memorize, I always try to come up with something crazy or silly that I will for sure remember. In fact, after I get my tests I often quickly scribble my sentence in the corner just in case. I’ve even had professors comment on liking my use of study tools.

Memorize in small chunks

I’m a big believer in using flashcards for memorization since that is the method that works best for me. If I’m sitting down with a new set of flashcards to study I will often pull 5 of the flashcards and go over those over and over until I feel I know it. Then I move onto the next 5 and so on. Occasionally I will go back through the stack of flashcards I’ve already gone over just for more review. Memorization is always more successful when it’s done in small chunks.

Say and repeat things out loud

I purposely reserve study room or study in my apartment just so I can read things out loud. If I am just starting to review something or am having a hard time remembering something, I say it outload several times. Studies have actually proven that saying things outload actually improves your memorization skills because you are using more than one sense. For me, I’ve definitely found that to be true so you should try it out too.

Focus on key phrases

In college, especially upper level courses, it always seems like you get long, drawn out definitions. Personally, those always seem to get jumbled in my mind since typically two or three are very similar despite two words flip flopped. Now, instead of trying to memorize all of it I simply focus on the key words. Typically I will go through and high light the key words in my notes, flash cards, or study guide and I am good to go.

Do you memorize for tests? What tips do you use from this list? Are there any tips you would add to this list? If you needed to brush up on your memorization skills, what tips would you add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

I’m the first to admit that I struggle with managing my stress during an exam. Do I really know the material? This test is worth 45% of my grade, will I pass? Why does it sound like the girl next to me is talking about a different subject entirely when mentioning what she studied? Did I remember my calculator? Wait…was section 2 supposed to be on this test? While all of that just covers my pre-exam jitters, I’ve finally found the best ways for me to manage exam stress. Today, I’m sharing with you how I’m kicking exam stress.

Don’t think about how others are doing on the exam.

My biggest weakness before taking an exam was always listening into classmate’s discussions about what they had studied. Typically, it just led to me questioning if I had studied the right information and truly knew the material that was being covered, which only meant that I would panic. Then when you open your exam, don’t concentrate on how that person is doing on the exam. Who knows, they could just talk the talk and not really know the information. But no matter what they know, how they are doing on the exam doesn’t matter. The only thing you need to be thinking about during your test is your test.

Breathe. Take a deep breath.

I hope I’m not the only one that has the horrible habit of holding my breath when I open my exam and read through it. Heck, I even hold my breath when working out a problem. It’s a horrible habit and I’m still working towards overcoming it, but I’ve made progress in the fact that now I know it’s okay to stop every once and a while and take a moment to remind myself to breath. Just by implementing this tip I feel my stress level go down. My shoulders relax, the knot in my chest goes away, and my mind clears up. It’s been a wonderful thing for me to learn and I’m sure it will be a great one for you as well.

Read through the exam.

As soon as your professor gives you permission to begin your exam, open it up and read through it. Read the questions, skim through the answers, and know what portions the exam covers. Once you’ve read through it, take a deep breath and start. If you end up with extra time at the end of your exam, read through your exam again only this time go over your answers. If I’m reading over my math tests I always review my work and recalculate answers so I know I’ve done it right. On tests that use a scantron I read through the test and make sure my answers match up, double check that all of the circles are all the way filled in, and then see if I erased everything fully if I messed up on an answer.

Do the problems you know first.

For some reason during my freshman year of college it got into my mind that I had to go through a test from front cover to back cover without going back to any problems later on. That method only made me more anxious if I didn’t know how to do it right off the top of my head because I had to dwell on it. Finally, I learned that it’s completely okay to skip around your test. By doing this I get a confidence boost by knowing I did well on the topics I was strong in and can go back to questions I skipped with equal confidence because I didn’t dwell on them for too long feeling like I messed something up.

Don’t rush.

I’ve always been worried about messing up on timing during a test and feared that I won’t have enough time to do everything so I rush through it. I’m still working on this one and always have to remind myself to slow down. In fact, I often write “slow down!” at the top of each page of my test because I need the visual reminder. Seeing that written on the top of my page definitely helps me to slow down and concentrate on taking my time on problems.

Ask for a clock to be running if you need it.

Asking for a clock or timer to be projected onto the board is never a bad thing. Many people get anxious thinking that they will take too much time on several problems and not have enough time to complete their exam. Having a clock that is visible is a major tool in helping you manage your time and essentially schedule how you will complete problems as needed.

Have all of your test taking materials ready to go.

Something that causes me anxiety going into a test is if I have all of the materials needed to do my test. If it’s a math test, then I always have to double check that I have at least two pencils, an eraser, my calculator, and my formula book. It might seem like something silly to stress over before a test, I always double check to make sure everything is in my backpack so it’s ready for test day.

How do you manage stress during an exam? Are you planning to use any of these tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

My freshman year of college wasn’t healthy for me, to say the least. On Monday’s I started my day at 6:30am and fell into bed by midnight if I was lucky. I went all day. I had class from 8am-7:45pm (the joys of being a freshman), had an organization meeting squeezed in there from 2-3:30pm, ran to study hours from 8-10pm, and often got home, showered, then finished with my studying for the day. I did this routine with different classes and organization meetings every day of the week and on weekends often sat at a table in the library for 5-8 hours straight just to get ahead for the next week. Yes, I’m just a marketing major, but I like to have everything hand written and put a lot of pressure on myself to do so. While my school work was in-line, my self-care was not. In fact, one of my biggest ways to relax is by watching YouTube videos and I distinctly remember bragging to my mom on the phone about how it had been over three months since I had watched one. My self-care had been pushed to the back burner.

After burning out my freshman year, something had to change. I had to make time for myself and prioritize myself. Yes, college is busy. Yes, there are a million other things you could be doing. But setting aside time for yourself is just as important, I promise.

Schedule it in

Sunday nights are my nights. You will typically find me cuddled in bed reading a book with a cup of hot chocolate or tea or even with my laptop watching a movie on Netflix. Sunday evenings are my night to unwind and recoup before the new week begins. I always try to avoid having anything scheduled on Sunday evenings since that time is already scheduled for me. And if anything does get scheduled for Sunday evening, I always reschedule my me time.

Give yourself a mental break

Surely we’ve all reached that point in our studying where our brain turns to mush and you simply can’t cram any more facts or information into your head. In high school, I was known to keep pushing myself through that feeling and honestly I was proud of the fact that I did that. Now, I realize that wasn’t the smartest decision and I was only hindering myself instead of bettering myself. If I hit that wall now, I put my study materials aside and do something for myself. Sometimes it’s watching a video or two on YouTube, a show on Netflix, taking a shower, or even taking a quick cat nap. Nine times out of ten I return to my study materials feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work. Plus, I even have noticed better retention because of this.

Treat yourself

As a college student, we know things can go from 0-100 really quick. One week you can basically do nothing and the next you have three tests, a paper, and a huge project due. We have all had those “hell” weeks. Personally, I strive off of knowing that there is a reward waiting for me at the end. So if I know I have a crazy busy week coming up, I make sure to make plans in advance for afterwards. Sometimes it’s going for ice cream with a friend and other times it’s a manicure at my favorite local salon. Whatever it is that gives you a bit of motivation to make it through is what works.

Do what you enjoy

My sophomore year of college I got into phase of always wanting to have “productive breaks”. I would clean, work on the blog, catch up on e-mails, and more during these breaks. While I still support taking productive breaks and getting things done, it definitely isn’t something you should do for every break. Take breaks and do something you enjoy. During finals week a friend and I always go for a walk at the trails by our apartment complex. It’s something we both enjoy and it allows us to get out of study mode if even for a short time. It’s not always about crossing things off the to-do list if you are taking a break.

Splurge a little

This year I think I found my favorite way to splurge on my self-care time: Lush bath bombs. Yes, they aren’t exactly in a college student’s budget, but I absolutely love them. It’s my favorite little splurge to treat myself after an especially long week. My favorite splurge treat of all? A facial. I get one twice a year, once after spring finals and once after fall finals. My stress acne is real at that time of year and it’s the perfect way for me to have something to look forward to after finals and treat myself.

How do you prioritize self-care? Is making time for it something you are working on as well? How do you set aside time for self-care? And what are some of your favorite ways to treat yourself? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

No matter what year of college you are entering, the first week of school can be a bit stressful. Between getting settled into a new routine and catching up with friends you haven’t seen all summer it’s a lot to handle. Today I’m hoping to give you some tips that will make it seem like you have all you ish together, even if technically you don’t.

Introduce yourself to all of your professors-even if it means going to their office hours

If you take anything away from this point, let it be this point. Hands down the most important thing to do during your first week of classes is introduce yourself to all of your professors and even TA’s. If I have the time between classes I always go up to my professor after class and introduce myself, say where I am from, what my major is, what year I am, and conclude with a ‘it was nice to meet you!’. If I don’t have the time to go up to a professor after class I make the effort to go to their office hours that week to quickly introduce myself just as I would after class. In two years of college I’ve only had one instance in which I was unable to introduce myself after class and during their office hours because of a conflict with a class, so I sent the professor an e-mail. I explained that I had to run to a different class after theirs and that I had classes during their office hours. After doing so, this professor recognized me in class (always use your Linked-In headshot as your school e-mail photo!) and told me how impressed he was that I made the effort to reach out to him.

Order your textbooks

Your first week of school you should have a feel for if your professor actually will have you using the book that they put on the syllabus. Once you know which books you need, order them from somewhere like Chegg or even a local textbook resell store. If you ordered your textbooks through the school book store, make sure to return any books you don’t need the first week of school or else you my risk not getting your money back.

Pull together your planner

The first week of school I always sit down with my syllabi and write all reading, homework due dates, and test dates into my planner. I personally always write due dates into the weekly and monthly pages of my planner because I always refer to both when planning my weeks.

Organize your school supplies

I might be the only one who gets excited about new highlighters and pens, but you have to admit having highlighters that actually highlight is pretty nice. The first week of school I sit down and label my notebooks and folders with what classes I will be using them for, switch out my pens and pencils, and put my syllabi and any handouts I have into my folders.

Develop your routines

With a new semester comes new routines. While I understand that in college you don’t have a set schedule every day like in high school, at least know what you plan to do during your morning routine. For me, my mornings consist of waking up to my alarm, turning on the coffee maker, washing my face, making my coffee, doing my make-up, doing my hair, brushing my teeth, and then getting dressed. If I have the time on Tuesdays and Thursdays I hit the gym at my apartment complex before class and on Monday and Wednesday I go to work-out classes at my universities gym. I do this exact thing for my night routine and even for a daily blog maintenance routine.

Go to the free classes at the gym

If your gym is anything like mine the workout classes are free the first week of classes. This is the perfect time to try out new classes and figure out what class times work best with your schedule. Free week at my university’s gym is how I figured out that I like to go and work out right after my classes are done so that I can have a mental break and cross more than going to class off my to-do list when I’m on campus.

Write out a schedule of tutoring and office hours in your planner

Hands down this is the best thing that I picked up on during my sophomore year of college. Surprisingly enough I figured it out when I was creeping on a girl in the student center and told her that her planner was cute and spotted what she was writing. She told me that she was making a schedule of when her professors and TA’s where available for office hours and when the tutoring center offered help for her classes. She went on to tell me that you should even write down the times that overlap when you have class because sometimes if class is cancelled you can swing by for extra help in another class. Aside from the monthly few sections of my planner, this page became one of the most referred to pages in my planner.

Look into new organizations

Since it’s the first week of school there are all kinds of involvement parties where you can visit the student center and get fliers for organizations all over campus. It’s the perfect way to find organizations both in your major and outside of your major.

Walk your classes

As “freshman” as this sounds, walk your classes. Especially if you are on a bigger campus you want to know where you are going for your classes because the 10 minute recess between classes can be a bit tight. Even if you know where the buildings are, walk to them and find the room where your class is. This upcoming semester all of my classes are in the same building, but I haven’t been in this building very much before. I’ve taken the time already to walk the building and find where my classes are and I’m definitely glad I did! One of the lecture rooms took me 10 minutes to find because it was completely hidden.

Reevaluate or set new goals

With a fresh semester at your hands, you have the opportunity to set new goals for yourself. It’s a new year of sorts. Think about grades you want to get in classes, how you hope to be involved in your organizations, how many blog posts you hope to publish per week, and how much time you will set aside for family and friends. I personally have a goals notebook (I’m a nerd, I know) that I sit down with every semester/summer/new year and layout my goals for many different areas of my life and even reevaluate previous goals. You can spend 15 minutes or 2 hours, but no matter how long you spend I promise you that time is worth it.

Introduce yourself to your RA’s

If you are still in the dorms, take the time to introduce yourself to your RA’s. No matter what year you are, your RA’s can come to your rescue a lot more than you might think. Even if it’s just a brief hello, reach out to them and at least know their names!

What do you do to make your first week of classes go smoothly? Are there any tips that I missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!