I think it’s safe to say that everyone reading this has pulled an all-nighter studying for exams, spent countless hours editing and re-editing papers and crammed in as much information as possible right outside of class, in the hopes that any of it will be a question on the test.
This is true for almost everyone.
And yet, some of us just don’t get the grades that reflect this. All this does is discourage us from even bothering to study.
A test must be both valid and reliable.
Valid meaning it does confirm or invalidate knowledge for which it is testing and reliable, indicating a student can take the same test a month later and have close to the same results. After taking 2 semesters of calculus, I can’t say with confidence I could pass a geometry exam, even after getting A’s both semesters.
I see too many students today beating themselves up because they didn’t get an A in the class they busted their asses for. They not only lose the motivation to study, but they lose confidence in themselves. That voice in their head that told them they could be anything they wanted to be when they grew up shrivels up and dies. And they gradually pull their dreams back down to reality, settling for something they know for certain is attainable.
Well let me tell you what the reality is.
Grades don’t define you.
Roll your eyes all you want, as I’m sure you’ve been told this before. And I didn’t want to believe it when I was first told this after I got a horrible, HORRIBLE, grade on a calculus exam. But it’s true, and it was never more evident to me then this past semester.
So last semester, I’m taking this elementary physics class (more concepts and very minimal math), and thinking, “this is going to be a breeze.”
After completing all the homework, and labs, I step in confidently to knock out our first exam, but walk out questioning whether I even used the right equation. Even after my perfect homework and lab scores, 75% through the semester I had a C.
And this is when it hit me. It’s not about learning anymore. It’s about giving the professor what he/she wants. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve also had that rare professor that just gets you so immersed into his class that you actually lose track of time and even enjoy going to class. (Yes, they do exist). But the bigger picture here is, this is the system. And you have to work the system in order to get those good grades because that ultimately puts you in a better position to get your dream job.
How to get good grades? These are a few tips and truths that I’ve learned over my 2 years at college:
1. Study early because something will always come up.
Try your best to manage your time so you always study for exams early, rather than cramming. The quicker you flood your brain with info, the less you’ll be able to retain it.
2. Prepare like you don’t know anything and take the test like you know everything.
Sometimes it’s the nerves that get us, not our lack of knowledge.
3. Take care of your health.
The second I graduated high school, it’s like the all-nighter button got turned off and I can’t even focus in class unless I get some sleep and eat a good breakfast before I go.
4. Have a plan B.
Not saying you should give up on plan A, but sometimes, your dream will take a little longer to achieve than you thought. In the meantime, make sure you have a means of providing for yourself.
5. Don’t ever give up on Plan A.
If it’s your dream job, and you can wake up every day happy to do it, don’t give up on it. The universe has creative ways of making things happen if you will them to.
Your education is important, but it isn’t your only responsibility. It is only one of the fifty other things expected of college students, so it’s important that you don’t miss out on life in the meantime.
These years will never come back, so learn as much as you can, have as many experiences as you possibly can, and work hard in everything you do.
It will pay off.