Some professors during your college career will offer extra credit assignments.  The professors intentions for such assignments vary, but that should not concern you.  What should concern you is doing every possible extra credit assignment available to you.  Just because you already have a high A in the class doesn’t mean you should skip such opportunities.  Depending how professors weigh their grading system, usually extra credit points can put you over the 100% mark.  During my college career I’ve been put in a situation where I am above 100% in many different classes, and that meant when it came to finals time, I could fail the final and still get an A in the class.  If you’re not sure a certain professor offers extra credit, make sure you ask them as soon as possible because majority of the time extra credit assignments have a rather wide time frame for completion, and just like with any other assignment you should complete it as fast as possible.

I can’t even begin to explain the importance of being social in your classes.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a huge lecture hall or a small classroom.  You need to be “engaged” so that professors know you by your name.  It might seem far fetched, but professors do care if their students are paying attention in class.  They want to feel like they are doing their job well and students are actually listening to what they have to say.  If they know you are a student who is genuinely interested in their class, and let’s say towards the end of the semester you are a little short of that A, you have the option to talk to your professor, and majority of the cases they will “curve” you up just because they know you!  So here are some tips about being social in your classes for your benefit.

  • First chance you get you need to come up with any reason to visit your professors during their office hours.  Introduce yourself and talk about some subject that was discussed prior.  Have questions ready about a specific topic, assignment, or anything relevant to the professors subject of study.
  • Ask questions in class!  Have you seen professors lecture then ask the students if anyone has questions, and nobody speaks up?  They just stand there for a little bit with a dumbfounded look on their face.  Guess what?  You need to ask questions so you catch the professors eye as an “I care” student.
  • Be prepared for class by doing the assigned reading or homework prior to class.  If the professor asks a question and you already know the answer.  Raise your hand and speak up.  Trust me on this, you will make a good impression on your professors.
  • Don’t miss class unless it’s some crazy emergency.  Specially in smaller classrooms where the professor can notice you are not attending.  There were countless of times I had to go to class hungover, without any sleep, and was barely staying awake during the lecture.  Just showing up counts too! 

Have you ever been in the position where it is the end of the semester, finals time, and you need to make some crazy high A on the comprehensive final to get an A in the class?  I have been in that situation my freshman year of college.  I clearly remember those times due to all the stress that was put on my shoulders studying for the finals.  What I have learned from those situations, was to start really strong in the beginning of the semester in every class.

When you put in the time and effort in the beginning of the semester and make A’s on all your assignments and tests, a lot of that pressure could be relieved when it’s finals time.  I have had times where I could make a 50% or less on the final and still keep an A in the class.  Having a stress and pressure free finals week and not worrying too much about the finals just because you have done incredibly well in the beginning of the semester is an amazing feeling to have.  I suggest everyone who is reading the blog, when this next semester starts, start strong!  Ace all those easy assignments, tests, and quizzes.  You will thank yourself at the end of the semester when you breeze through the finals.

I am assuming you have already read my post about selecting classes and professors that would benefit you the most as far as difficulty is concerned.  This post I will generally talk about selecting elective classes.

I would strongly suggest any student who wishes to excel in their academic career to pick electives they are genuinely interested in.  For example, if you are interested in psychology, but your major doesn’t have anything to do with the psychology field, take a 100 level psychology class that would fulfill a general education requirement.  From personal experience, when I was learning topics that I was truly interested in, I retained information much easier, and actually learned a thing or two.   There were numerous elective classes I took that did not have anything to do with my major, but I actually enjoyed going to those classes.  Thereby, getting perfect grades in such classes was pretty much effortless.  Whatever you do, do NOT take classes that are interesting, but don’t fulfill any credit criteria.  Trust me on this, you surely don’t want to spend another semester or two busting your butt just because you took irrelevant classes.  So on a final note, take electives that you find interesting, but do not take an elective that does not fulfill an education requirement for your graduation.

Several speed study techniques exist, and smart students utilize them to their full extent.  For example, let’s say you only have 15 -30 minutes and you want to digest as much information as possible in that short amount of time.

I have had tremendous success with one of the speed study techniques.  This brief review of one the techniques is based on conceptual material such as definitions and lists.

  • Definitions – First you need to read the term and the definition. Then locate several key words in the term’s definition that you can associate directly to the term.  Skim over the term and the key words, look away from your study material, and vocally say the term and the associated key words 3 times.  Do this for every definition and you will amaze yourself how quickly you have learned them.
  • Lists – When I’m talking about lists, it is basically a category with several other topics of interest included in that category.  A lot of tests require you to memorize these minor details.  Obviously skim over the category and topics of interest in that category, but the quick and easy way to memorize such material is acronyms. Write down the first letter of every topic of interest next to the category.  Turn it into an acronym and say the acronym out loud 3 times, then for every first letter say the topic that is associated with that letter.

If you are curious why you should speak to yourself when trying to memorize information, and that is because studies have shown when people think out loud, they retain a lot more information than just thinking the information internally.  I will write more about speed study techniques, but if you are in a hurry and are interested in reading a book that I have personally learned these speed study techniques, then I suggest reading this book.