Student Success Stories: Laura B.
Laura B.'s Academic Success Story
In high school I was one of the good students who didn't really have to study to be a good student. The information that I took for notes in class usually sunk in enough for me to be able to get by on the tests by simply reviewing the material just before the class began. It wasn't that I didn't try, I had a 4.0 all through out high school, but I never really had to put forth much of an effort to get the results that I wanted to see. In college however, that changed. Not only did I start studying and reading the book, but I began to understand that the little tiny facts were just as important as the general concepts.
My overall study method: I do the reading that is required for the classes, and I try to keep up. If I do fall behind, I usually use the reading that I did not get to as an additional study aid. I take good notes in class and actually attend every class that I can. Sometimes with volleyball its tough because we are on the road a lot, but if I do miss class because of volleyball I make sure that I get the notes from another student in the class. Also, for a subject such as chemistry, I do practice problems to help me understand what the material means.
My test study method: When it comes time to study for the test, I usually start 2-3 days before the test. I go through my notes and make flashcards on what was important for those sections, paying special attention to what the teacher said would be on the test if there was a review session. Also, I go through the book and read the inset stories and add to my flashcards. If there are practice problems or online assignments or old tests, I use those to help me study for the test as well. Once the test is over, I keep the flashcards so that I have them for the next test or for the final.
My time management secret: My secret is to use time wisely. I know that on certain days I do not have time to run errands or hang out with friends even. Each minute of each day is used for something. One thing that works really well for me is to write everything down. I mean everything. I write down if I am going to email people, write letters, or study. It works for me to have a planner that goes by the day and shows me what I am going to be doing every day. Knowing what I have to do everyday helps me plan out my week and my days. If I know that I don't have time on Tuesday, I will try to get more things done on Monday or Sunday. I plan ahead, especially if I am going to be on the road for volleyball. When I am on the road, I bring my books and read on the bus/plane/hotel room. Missing class is killer to make up from, but if you are upfront with your professors, they are usually nice about having to turn things in late or not being in classes.
How I deal with multiple projects/tests: When I have more than one test or project, I break up my studying. I will study for one test for 30 minutes or so and then switch to the other one. If there is some part of a project that I know will not take me very long, I will do it when I don't have much time. If I am really in a crunch for time on a specific day, I will study for one test in the morning and the other in the afternoon or at night. By breaking up the studying into different sections, I feel like I get much more done. Cram sessions do not work for me. I need to study something for a shorter period of time more often for it to sink in.
My overall study method: I break up studying over several days and over the course of the evening and day. Cramming never works for me so I try not to do it. I will have longer sessions on nights before big tests, but I never stay up much later than normal before tests. I know that if I take the test tired the next day I will not do as well as if I was rested.
How I've overcome an initial bad grade: I usually look over the test or paper to see what I did that the teacher did not want. Basically, I do not stress out about grades that much because for me they are not worth getting really upset about. I do well because I know that I know the material. However, if I do get a bad grade, or one lower than I expected, I make sure that the next time a test is coming, I study even more so that I wont be surprised by the questions.
My strategies for written assignments: I try to outline before I write because otherwise I forget what I am supposed to be talking about. I try not to leave them until the last minute because then I will just BS the work. A lot of times I just write what I feel. Teachers like your opinion and if you can find something from the reading or research that relates specifically to your life, they like it even more because it allows you to take ownership of your work. I write things that I want others to read; not things that I have to write because the teacher said so.
How I succeed in team projects: Personally, I do not like working on group projects, especially ones that I worked on in high school. However, when it is required to work in a group, usually I try to lead. I like taking the lead because then I know that my grade will be a good one. I do well in school, I always have and I don't plan on changing that anytime soon, so when I need to work with people who maybe don't care as much as I do, or they have more time to waste on things other than the project, I try to be in charge. That way I know that things are going to get done on time and that I am going to get a good grade. If I am working in a group of people who all want to work, then it is a different story. I can and will work as part of the team as long as everyone in the team is willing to do their work. I don't like having to pick up the slack, but I will if I know that my grade will be harmed otherwise.
My greatest academic success was in my first semester when I had to write a 10-12 page research paper. It was the longest paper I had ever been assigned and I was a little scared. Also, it was the first paper where they were like, here you go, just write about something. I had to argue in favor of or against something, but it could be anything from the sky is blue to hypnotism. I wrote mine on hypnotism. I worked on this paper for weeks and weeks. Every night I would be doing research or writing. I put so much effort into this paper. It ended up being just under 12 pages but it was full on information. I turned it in and when I got it back a week or so later, I had received the first A+ of my college career. All my hard work paid off because I got the grade I deserved. I was really happy and proud of myself.
English, math, foreign language tips: For math, all I can say is do the problems assigned. It is the only way to practice and that's really all it is for math. It's the same for chemistry; if you do the practice problems you will understand the material so much better because those subjects are not just memorization like history, you need to be able to apply what you have learned in practical situations. As for English, I am no longer taking it, but I would say to leave yourself plenty of time to write essays and papers. They take time to get all the information out of your head and onto the page, so don't leave them until the last second.
Here are my final words of wisdom for students who want to get better grades in college: A big thing that not many will say is to ask for help if you needed it. Its not a bad thing to not understand, it's a bad thing if you don't do anything about it. Plan you time out so you are completing everything that needs to get done and leave time to double check. Write things down and have good time management skills. Ask for help is probably the biggest thing I can say though. If you don't understand, go to office hours or find a classmate that does understand and is willing to help you. If you try hard, it will come to you. I find myself thinking that I would have to try harder to fail than I try to succeed. It is something that is within me to succeed. If that is not who you are, then hopefully things that I have done can show you that success is something that is amazing to find! Good luck!
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