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Five Tips for Academic Success in College (In the Middle of a Pandemic)

Decorating your dorm room, meeting new people, parties, all very real reasons to be over-your-heels excited for your college experience to begin! But let’s be brutally honest, you’re at university to get an education about something you're passionate about, and having been in college for a full trip around the sun, I have gathered some tips and tricks that will help you maintain a stellar academic record as you have the time of your life!

Be sure to  keep in mind that as we are preparing for another year of school, we are also in the midst of a global pandemic, so of course everything we do as college students is going to be modified. That’s okay if that means we can all be safe and healthy for years to come. So, call this your list of five tips to get ahead in school, even when “in-school” may mean in your bedroom.

Get Organized

The most important part about getting good grades in your classes is to get good grades on each of your assignments; this means doing them on time with thought and quality. The easiest way to fall behind is to have all your assignments pile up and having to rush to finish them. Whether you are a procrastinator or simply have a tendency to forget deadlines, getting organized will drastically change your habits! 

Getting a planner and committing to updating it every single day is the perfect place to start. If you are more of a computer person, Google Calendar is great because you can organize your deadlines and events into color coded categories, so you’ll never be confused with which assignments are for what class.I’ve done that before,wrote an essay about a completely different class and it was a waste of my time). For those of you who prefer more tangible reminders, investing in a cute and sturdy planner journal is essential.

Planners are great for writing down anything and everything you have going on in life, such as events and schedules, as well as a great way to pencil in all deadlines for assignments and dates of exams. Doing all of these things will not only help inspire you to work strategically and hard in all aspects of your life, including your classes and grades, but will also help you create and nurture positive habits when it comes to professional settings such as academics and work. 

Speak with People

One of the most important lessons that comes with college is learning how to not be shy! You will learn quickly (hopefully by this article and not the hard way) that speaking up for yourself and making your presence known will get you everything you wish for. If you ever have questions, concerns, or interests in something going on in a class or on an assignment, go and talk with your Professor, TA, or class grader. Their job is to help you excel and learn as best as you can; USE that to your advantage! So much confusion can be cleared up with one simple conversation, never be afraid to ask questions!

This also applies to making the time to set an appointment with your academic advisor and any other resource staff you have available at school! Be sure you are on the right track for your degree and for upcoming semesters, ask about any career or internship opportunities, and go above and beyond to assure that everything is progressing exactly how you want it to. 

Double checking that all of your business is in order, and doing so often, will make sure you are always two steps ahead of the game, and that’s where you should stay! 

Set Aside Time

Life can get crazy, we’ve all been there. It is so easy to fall into this never ending cycle of letting the unexpected events of life take over all of your spare time, but I’m telling you that it is so incredibly important to really set aside time to focus, sit down, and get your schoolwork done. Even if you do not have too many assignments due that week, setting time aside to think about your classes and what you’re learning about will allow you to process and learn all of the information better, which of course is the goal!

I recommend finding time whenever you feel most productive. For some, that could mean right when they wake up, and for others, it can be in the middle of the night when inspiration strikes. Regardless of what time it is, stay consistent! One to two hours of pure focus a day can really do wonders for your short and long term goals. It will be so worth it in the end when you not only see your final grades, but also realize you now have amazing habits to hold yourself accountable and stay determined. 

Set the Tone

This is my favorite tip, and it is to take the time to set up your study space into a place where you can be inspired and positive. I personally am a library kind of girl. I love to study and get all of my work done in the comfort of a dim, lowkey freezing, corner of a pretty library. With the increased measures to stay healthy, this doesn’t seem to be the best option for me anymore, so I made my home desk really cute with some plants, candles, and adorable desk accessories! 

Things like this can be found everywhere, but I would start at Target if you’re on the hunt for some cute and fun study essentials! They typically have nice office supplies in their seasonal section, which with Fall coming up,finding absolutely must-have pieces probably won’t be a chore!

Start Early

Lastly, the most crucial tip on this list is going to be to start early. I know what some of you are thinking, “I work well under pressure, I can totally pull off waiting until the last minute!” Okay fine, I get it, because I do too. However, I will say that Syllabus week is the most important of weeks when it comes to being successful during the semester. Knowledge is power, but the key is in preparedness, so it really is worth the extra effort to look over each of your syllabi thoroughly, and make a plan on how you are going to provide your best work to each of these classes. 

Even if you don’t start your assignments when they are given out, simply thinking about them constantly in the back of your mind will help you when you do eventually sit down to complete it. By doing this, you allow yourself time to develop your own ideas, analyze what you’re learning and what you will learn in the near future, and to think critically about the subject. Thinking silently to yourself in random times about your class topics may seem “nerdy” to some, but you will be amazed at how much it makes a difference in your personal learning experience. 

As we’ve all probably noticed, the world is an increasingly crazy place full of surprises. The nice thing about being stuck in situations you can’t control is that you learn to appreciate and take advantage of the situations you can control. Taking the initiative to set yourself up for success this semester and being able to follow through with your personal goals is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself right now, that feeling of accomplishment is unmatched. 

P.S. One last tip: Be nice to yourself. Understand that everything is not normal right now and if you feel that school or life gets too overwhelming, be sure to always consider your own wellness as a top priority. We’re all just doing our best, anyway! 

Gabriela Guevara

CU Boulder '23

I am passionate about happiness and the freedom for people to feel love. As I am working towards a degree in Political Science and Ethnic Studies, & eventually law, I hope to inspire people to reflect, learn, and spread light. Thank you for reading my words! xoxo
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