When I entered my freshman year of college, I had very high expectations for myself. Like a lot of people, I thrived in high school. I'm what some people call an over-achiever. I was enrolled in honors and AP courses, I babysat for some of my teachers, I was the president of my school's DECA chapter, and I was the sports editor of our magazine. My teachers in high school always used to say, "college is harder than high school," implying if you can't handle high school good luck in college.
But when I graduated from high school, I felt ready to take on college. I thought high school was a breeze, so college is going to be a piece of cake.
But like any big change in life, it takes getting used to. If you go to a large university (like The University of Alabama) a lot can change from the life you used to know. You go from living at home with your parents to living alone or with roommates, mandated curfews cease to exist and meals either come from a microwave or a dining hall. You choose classes you're interested in and you pick what times will work best for you.
Despite these new aspects that seem like they would make your academic life easier, it can be hard to discipline yourself to take classes as seriously as you did in high school without your parents or teachers keeping you focused.
I graduated high school with a 3.4 GPA, which I was pretty proud of. As long as I got A's and B's I was happy. But after my freshman year at Alabama, it dropped to a 2.8. Two classes brought me down. An introduction course I had to take and a world religions class I thought would be super interesting. I got a C in both courses and it killed my GPA. There is less coursework to be graded on and classes you think you will nail because they are interesting or an introduction course might not be as easy as you thought.
Transcript after freshman year.Marcelle Peters
But don't worry, the bad news is it happens to the best of us, even over-achievers like myself. The good news is you have time to get your GPA right! After freshman year, you have to lock in and stay serious. Make yourself study, finish homework and assignments early and don't let college life distract you. You've had a year to get used to the college set up, so don't let it get in the way of why you're really there — to get a degree.
1. Use Rate My Professors
Any college graduate can tell you, a professor can make or break a class. You might have the department head as a professor, but if his tests are based on boring and repetitive lectures, it won't matter if you study the textbook like a best-selling novel. You might have the nicest professor of all time, but if they care more about being your friend than teaching you, it's not going to help your grade. Check rate my professors and choose a teacher who will get you a degree.
2. Ask your peers
Ask your peers what classes they took and which professors they took, but don't let them talk you into one — make your own decisions. Do as much research as you can about a course and professor to make a well-informed decision.
3. Don’t give up
My final transcript and GPA
We are often our worst critics. I was so disappointed in myself when I saw my GPA after freshman year. But I was lucky that it motivated me to persevere and kick ass throughout the rest of my college career, unlike so many drop-outs who give up after freshman year. I took my academics seriously, I managed my time and I thrived my last three years. If I can go from a 2.8 GPA my freshman year to a scholarship recipient with my name on the Dean's list, so can you. You just have to give it your all.