Getting As without being brilliant

 Many students are performing below their potential because they fail to do some basic things. They would like to do well, but sometimes feel they do not have the ability to achieve excellence. They think they are not brilliant enough to score As and that only a select group of naturally brilliant students can do so. However, students can maximise their grades, not by doing extraordinary things or by being extraordinary, but by doing the following ordinary things.

Prioritise – There are many things you could be doing besides attending college. However, your being at college is an indication that you consider it necessary for your development.
Hence, while at college that should be your top priority. Everything else should revolve around this. This is not too great a sacrifice since your college life significantly affects the rest of your life although it is only a small part of your life.

Set goals – There is a saying: “If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.” One of the first things to achieving good grades rests with setting realistic goals and working towards them. Your goals should be practical – not vague or abstract. One goal could be to get As – but remember that grades are first made in the mind. It is useful to set goals in terms of days, then weeks, then months, and so on.

Believe in yourself – Belief in one’s self is important to achieving good grades. The saying goes: “If you think you can, you can.” The opposite is also true: “If you think you cannot, you will not.” Your belief system is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe in your potentials your belief will release your creative energies and motivate you to do well.

Have an open mind, positive attitude – Before students take a class they usually get information about the course and about the professor from other students who have previously taken the course. Common notions, such as “the professor is hard and unapproachable” or that the course is difficult, are usually heard. This negative information usually stands out in a student’s mind. As a result of the information received, many students approach the class with a negative attitude.
However, you should separate your perception of the professor from the course, attend classes with an open mind and do not attempt to formulate an opinion of the professor or the course beforehand, as it might affect your performance. Too many students do not do well because they think the professor does not like them. In many of these circumstances the professor is totally unaware of the student’s feelings. Even if the professor does not like you – you do not have to get a low grade as proof.
It is also important to show interest in the course. Being late for classes, leaving early, doing other assignment in class, or reading the newspaper in class are often interpreted by your instructor as a lack of interest in the course. When it comes to a discretionary situation, your attitude towards the course may count.

Attend classes –The temptation to skip classes is ever present. Many students miss classes and, worst yet, make no effort to find out what happened in the class they did not attend. If you were absent from a class, make sure to find out from a reliable student what was done. There’s a saying: “If you cannot attend a class, send a representative.” However, do not make this a habit.

Listen – Attending classes is important, but learning and grasping the main points are more important. Research suggests that a human’s attention span lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes, so develop the art of listening. One way of achieving this is by telling yourself that what is being said is of utmost importance. Also, listen actively and not passively. Being involved in the lecture physically and mentally enhances information retention. Pay keen attention to what the lecturer emphasises – not all that is said is of equal importance. Teachers are constantly giving hints as to what they consider the most important points. These points usually become questions on examinations.

Note your instructors’ preferences – Each instructor has a unique style. Know your instructors – their likes and dislikes. Your instructors usually want assignments, tests and other class requirements to be done a particular way. It pays to follow the requirements of each instructor.

Read more next month.