How to Crush the College Experience (Part II)

In the first article I wrote on How to Crush the College Experience, I told you about the mistakes that I made (hoping you won’t follow in my footsteps) and then I told you about the best advice I received while I was in school. Advice I wish I would’ve received much sooner.

As I was responding to the comments I was actually inspired to write a follow up post. To save you from unending scrolling, here is the comment:

Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think  January 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I’ll never forget I ended up with a B instead of an A in Macroeconomics. The class was at 8:00 in the morning and I was doing too much partying and not enough sleeping. I never missed a session, but I decided to catch up on a little shut eye during class. I bombed one exam after going an entire semester of passing my other exams with scores in the high 90s. This taught me a valuable lesson. Don’t take 8:00 classes.

A big thank you to Shawanda for the inspiration. I had to read it a few times to figure out my feelings. Shawanda makes a very good point here. At first I thought Shawanda was going to wish she had received the advice I did. But instead, she went a different direction – and I’m glad she did.

“This taught me a valuable lesson. Don’t take 8:00 classes.” I thought she was going to blame the B on her not balancing her sleep, her study, and her party. But what caused her to receive a B wasn’t imbalance during the semester. Rather what caused it was poor preparation BEFORE the semester.

Do Your Homework

Doing your homework while you’re in a class is essential. To add, doing your homework before you ever step foot in the class is just as essential. Neglecting this preparation is a huge mistake college students make every semester.

When you’re planning out your class schedule for the upcoming semester, here are a few tips and things to consider:

Don’t Underrate Class Times

Too many college students are overconfident in their abilities and behaviors. “This semester I’m going to start waking up early and working out every day.” No you’re not. You’re going to sleep until noon and drink beer every day. Nice try though.

It’s important to be aware of this. The timing of your class could be the difference between an A and a B or a B and a C. Look at Shawanda’s example. The proof was in my experience as well. One semester I made the mistake of enrolling in an 8:00 AM course and a 9:30 AM course – back to back. I did horribly in both – especially when you compare it to my grades in classes that took place between 12-8pm. I aced all of them.

Carefully Select Your Teachers

Unless you are attending college online, you are surrounded with thousands of kids just like yourself that would be more than happy to share their personal experiences with you. Ask around to see which professors have a good reputation and which ones to steer clear from.

Schedule Classes With People You Know

This advice could be beneficial but also damaging. Don’t sign up for a class with a friend that you know will be a distraction. When I look back on my experience, there was a greater probability of attending class if I knew I would sit with someone I knew and could talk to. Not necessarily to carry on a conversation about the weekend, but to ask critical questions. What did he just say? When is that paper due? It’s also extremely nice to have a study buddy.

Look At Prior Grade Distributions

Most schools are required to publicly post grade distributions. Use this to your advantage. There are tools and resources at your disposal. If you can’t find the information you need on your college’s website, try checking a helpful site like such as Koofers or Course Hero. It’s pretty self explanatory but if you can’t figure it out when you get there, here’s a screen shot:

It will simply show you the professor’s name along with the average GPA among students in their classes. When you see that a Japanese course has an average GPA of 3.14 and a Communications course has an average of 2.83 – that’s a red flag.

Conclusion

The point of this article is to point out that there are a lot of external factors that go into how well you will perform in school. I realize some college students schedule all their courses before noon and they ace each one of them [Editors Note: This was me]. Congrats to them, but the average college student is going to comprehend more and be more attentive in the latter hours of the day.

If you’re still in school, try out these tips and let me know how they work out for you. If you’re no longer in school, don’t you wish you were?

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I had one of those 8am classes and it pushed me to switch majors. I’m not a morning person and a class from 8-10am Tues and Thurs just wasn’t going to work. I dropped the course, switched majors from math to business finance and the rest is history.

Sounds like it worked out pretty well for you. The fact I can function pretty well at 8am, and always had been (having a lumberjack for a dad will do that for you) was a huge advantage for me in university.

I would be very careful in using a website that rates a Professor based upon the GPA of students. In college I took a Cell Biology class from probably the best Professor I have ever had. The course was extremely difficult and the average grade was 50%. I learned more in that one class than I did in most of my classes. I can still remember hearing the undergrad students in that class complaining how unfair that Professor was. How is showing up for an exam unprepared unfair? Do you really want to choose a Professor that has an “easy”… Read more »

I would actually say to not focus on grades too much. They aren’t always a true reflection of what you know. Plus when you apply for a job, no one asks to see your transcripts. Focus on doing well for sure, but don’t try to go overbored. A stressed out and sick young adult isn’t a good thing either,.

Very true Paul, we had this debate on Rate My Prof a little while ago. I think it depends what you want out of school right? It is a useful filtering tool to have in your tool belt anyway.

How to balance getting prepared for the competitive world (grade comparison) with simply pursuing knowledge? It’s interesting that so much stock is put into GPA when determining if you are able to get into a specific faculty, and yet it matters so little to people outside of academia.

Mr. Harvey

I would actually recommend taking morning classes and scheduling them back to back and get them over and done with. During my engineering degree we had classes from 8:30am straight to noon. Then we were pretty much done except for the odd lab or afternoon class. We would then have the whole day to go and have fun or prepare for the next class. Sooner or later you will have to leave the education bubble and get a real job that doesn’t allow you to go in at noon or partially hung over. I think that taking a late class… Read more »

JP-

Thanks for sharing. Do you think if your initial class would’ve been scheduled later that you would’ve stuck with the Math Major and your life would be completely different….OR would you have eventually switched for other reasons?

Miss T- I didn’t put much of a focus on grades in college. It helped me in some cases and it hurt me in others. A lot of quality companies rely on this metric as a minimum requirement to get an interview. So for that reason – I wish I would’ve put more of a focus on GPA.

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