Your GPA (grade point average) is more than just a number; it’s one of the few ways you’re able to assess your progress and learning throughout your college career. But getting the GPA you want, or the GPA you are truly capable of, can be hard. Even though you are the one in control of your education and future, it may not always feel that way.
Poor grades are often the result of poor habits, not poor intellect. The wrong decisions can hurt your GPA. You already know how to work harder; you just need to learn how to work smarter. With that in mind, avoid these common mistakes to earn a GPA that will truly reflect your genius:
Poorly managing your time.
Perhaps the biggest mistake students make, poor time management affects productivity, organization, self-control, and ultimately, grades. Studying and completing your schoolwork should be a top priority, and your planning and efforts should reflect that.
Completing work late or not at all.
Days and weeks seem to fly by (and honestly, years, too); time just seems to slip away. Between business trips, carpools and basic household responsibilities, we lose track of time. And now, there’s a paper due in 12 hours?! How is it supposed to get done – on time? Not completing work or handing it in late can seriously impact your course grade. Stay on track by writing down due dates and consciously checking your course syllabi so you’ll never miss an assignment, and get a poor grade on something you could have excelled at.
Not getting involved in the discussion.
Many courses require you to participate in course discussions posted on the discussion board, creating dialogue and interacting with your classmates to assess your understanding of course material. The sharing of ideas, opinions and opposing viewpoints makes for a more colorful and well-rounded conversation. Participating very little, or not at all, is a sure fire way to watch your course grade plummet.
Not taking advantage of free tutoring services.
As a Thomas Edison State University student, you’re given access to multiple free resources to help you succeed. One of them is access to Smarthinking, an online tutorial service free of charge for students actively enrolled in courses, and found within the links of each course you are taking. It is extremely helpful for specific subjects (think mathematics, Spanish, accounting, chemistry and more) and offers free writing help. If you feel your grades slipping, be proactive and use a tutor, so your grades don’t suffer.
Not studying regularly.
If you’re a procrastinator, your favorite mantra may be the “I’ll just do it later” statement you try to convince yourself over and over again. But putting off course readings and materials, even for a little while, can affect your grades and overall GPA. Study regularly to increase information retention, and ultimately eliminate the need to cram for an exam.
Not setting clear goals
When you set goals, you set yourself up for success. These goals will help you identify your priorities and the actions you need to take to achieve them. Whether it’s short term (like creating notecards for an upcoming exam), or long term (creating a degree plan with your academic advisor so you can ultimately graduate), the importance you place on your goals will impact your work. Know what you want out of your schoolwork, and how to get there, and great grades will follow.
Not getting enough sleep
Sleep is often the first to go on our agenda – between running the kids around, client calls and writing your final paper, where is sleep supposed to fit in? Yet, poor sleep habits decrease your energy and increase your difficulty to keep up. Sleep should be a top priority – the right amount will drastically improve your day-to-day energy level, and therefore, keep you focused and on task so you can accomplish not only a great GPA, but also some other activities to boot.
What common mistakes do you think students should watch out for? Share them in the comments for the greater good!
This article was originally published in May 2014 and has been updated for accuracy.
Written by Thomas Edison State University