How to get good grades in college?

The most basic and obvious academic tip for college students is go to class! Believe it or not, missing class creates more work than simply going. You’ll need to get notes from a peer without the advantage of knowing what your professor emphasized as important through tone and gesture. You’ll need to figure out what assignments were given and complete them without the benefit of the professor’s stated directions and parameters. At the next class you attend, you may feel slightly discombobulated since you didn’t experience the former class. So, the foundation for the question “How to get good grades in college?” is to is simply show up!

How do I keep up with the work?

Keep some kind of planner. There are all sorts of designs; find one that works for you. Write everything down. You may think you can remember all you need to do, but college schedules can be hectic. If you get an assignment, write it down. If class will be in a different room next week, write it done. If you need to attend a campus event, write it down. Of course, this tip won’t work unless you regularly look at your planner.

Is studying in college different than in high school?

Studying in college is quite different than in high school. When the word “study” is used at the collegiate level, it means more than looking over notes for a test. It includes taking and reading notes, writing papers, designing PowerPoints, practicing presentations, working on group projects, creating flashcards, proofreading your work, reading assignments more than one time, completing homework assignments, writing lab reports, etc. 

In addition to the expanded definition of the word “study,” almost 100 percent of your studying/homework will be done outside of class time. In high school, students are often afforded time to do homework in class. That will not happen in college.

If I’m struggling, who should I reach out to?

It’s not unusual to need help at various times during your college career. Asking for help will allow you to be more successful. If you find yourself struggling in a class, the first person to talk with is your professor. That person is the expert for the course and will have office hours each week for the main purpose of answering student questions. Take advantage of office hours!

Colleges also have writing and tutoring centers. Make an appointment to get help with those folks—they can be a really positive academic support for you. Every school will have a disability services office. If you are on an IEP or 504 plan, or if you have any documented disability, be sure to visit them to put the accommodations you are entitled to in place. 

Mental and physical health are important! Seek counseling or medical support if you are not feeling well. Your hall director, resident assistant or academic advisor can help you find any of those resources.

If you are really struggling and concerned you may fail a class, check out our article on the steps to take now to succeed.

How to get good grades in college? Tips from current students!

“I like the low hum of things going on all around me while I work, so I study in busy areas. However, some of my friends prefer to be in complete silence. College is all about finding what works for you, so over your first few weeks at school try out all different types of study spots! What works for you may not work for everyone else.” 
Emma, elementary education

“Tests and quizzes in college cover more material than in high school. To manage that, I started studying a few days before the tests rather than just the day before. Use Quizlet!!!! It’s a lifesaver especially for classes that are heavily memorization such as anatomy.”
Danielle, pre-phyiscal therapy

“If I am studying for a big exam, my favorite place to go is the library. I find the quiet floor, turn on some music and begin my study session. Freshman year I tried studying in different locations until I found the places that I was most productive in. Try some different areas and see what works best for you.”
Jordan, speech-language pathology and audiology

“When it comes to studying in college, get out of your room and find a place you can go strictly for schoolwork. Being in your room leads to distraction which means you’ll lose your focus. So when I study, I like to be somewhere I can solely focus on my work.”
Jackson, business administration

“Study, study, study!!! If you want to succeed in college, you need to put forth effort. I set aside time days before a quiz or exam when I can put my phone on “do not disturb” and focus on only studying for a certain amount of time. This has been my plan of attack since freshman year.”
Clara, nutrition and dietetics

At Bluffton University…

The Learning Resource Center provides academic and personal support in the form of study groups, tutoring, workshops and individual consultations. Resources help students increase their skills in time management, note taking, reading, mathematics, test taking and stress management. You will also find helpful staff, a quiet area to study and do homework, as well as computers and a printer.

Written by Jacqui Slinger, director of academic development services; counselor for disability services, and Tricia Bell, content manager