I was stoked about starting college. My room was packed up 2 weeks before I left, I had created a Pinterest board full of decorating ideas, and my roommate and I had already been able to get to know each other pretty well. Come the start of school I was a social butterfly, going from room to room introducing myself, meeting new people, and making what I thought were going my lifelong friends. Classes start up and things became more difficult. I would spend a little time now and then getting work done, but my new friends always had something going on: a party, a gym session, a game night, you name it. I decided that I could prioritize my friends over school work and be able to slide by in my classes, but I was so wrong.
Come midterms I had Ds and Fs in all of my classes and I was freaking out to say the least. My parents had told me that if I did not get good grades, they were not going to waste money on schooling for me. The day after looking at my midterm grades I sat down and wrote out everything that I needed to do to get back on track.
Here is how I pulled my grades from Ds and Fs to As and Bs:
1. I talked to my professors: This was incredibly intimidating at first and I almost did not talk to any of them because I figured that they were not going to help me out. Turns out, professors can be really understanding especially during your first year of school. I admitted to messing up by prioritizing my social life and asked if I could make up assignments for partial credit, retake quizzes I did poorly on, and if there was extra credit I could do. The answer was not always yes, but where I did not get a yes, I received advice on what was needed from me for the rest of the year to pull the grades up, and that brings me to point 2.
2. I bought 15 planners: 15 may be an over exaggeration and definitely did not help me out at first (there were so many different places to write things), but it did help me learn how to organize myself better. I wrote down due dates for assignments, quizzes, and exams, but more importantly, I scheduled out my days. I wrote down what needed to be done that day and what I should work on in my free time. This kept me on track in my classes and helped me get better grades by making sure I had time to get my work done and study.
3. I let my friends know what was going on. I was afraid my new friends were going to be mad at me for not hanging out with them like I normally did, but they were surprisingly understanding. Throughout the whole rest of the semester they supported, helped, and motivated me to reach my goal of pulling my grades up. It was stressful and sometimes there were bad days, but I had my friends to lean on during those times and in the end, it brought us closer together. We passed the superficial barrier of parties and game nights and began opening up about actual issues going on in our lives.
4. I made more friends within my major: Making friends within your major is so important! I have since faced a lot of difficult material and having friends in my classes is another great study tool. When I am have trouble understanding a concept, there is usually someone who is able to explain it to me, and when someone else is struggling to understand certain material that I maybe am more familiar with, I help them out. It is a balance and a great way to potentially network yourself: these could be your future colleagues.
5. I learned to say “no”: Yes, my friends were supportive of me working to get better grades, there were times where they were persistent on hanging out and doing other things. I was never the best at telling people “no”, but at this point it was a necessity. I tried to be as kind as I could while telling my friends that I was busy at that moment because I needed to focus on my classes. This also goes for other distractions such as social media, Netflix, and text messaging. Learning to shut everything off and close my door was one of the biggest challenges, but when I started putting time and effort into my work there were immediate (positive) changes in my grades.
6. I did not solely focus on school. While school was my top priority, I still made time for friends and self care. Spending all of my time just working would have driven me crazy, so I was sure to go for walks, head to the gym, and occasionally go out on the weekends. College should not be a stressful time and it will become so without proper care for all aspects of wellness: social, mental, physical, emotional, environmental, and financial. Taking the time to care for myself made the working aspect less stressful and I was able to tackle new assignments and material with a fresh set of eyes and a relaxed mind.
With these 6 practices, I was able to pull all of my grades up by finals all while still making time for my friends and having fun. College is a time of personal growth and can be challenging, but if you work hard and manage your time well, it can be an amazing experience!