15 Studying And Learning Tips That Helped Me Maintain My GPA

15 Studying And Learning Tips That Helped Me Maintain My 3.9 GPA

I may go to a "party school" but that won't stop me from succeeding.


As a college student, studying has to be one of the worst things. When you account for all of the classes you're taking, all of the knowledge you have to retain, possibly studying without a study guide, having a teacher who absolutely can't teach for shit, or you simply just can't focus... we've all been there. Trust me, I've been there. We've all been there.

I'm currently a junior in college, graduating a year early, currently holding a 3.9 GPA. If you need some studies or just want to improve your study habits, try some of these tips that I do.

1. Actually show up for class. 

I don't care if your teacher doesn't take attendance or if you don't learn anything. Three of my classes don't take attendance and I still show up. Why? Because at least I'm taking the effort to show up. Maybe your teacher will hint at something that wasn't on the powerpoint slides. Maybe your teacher will randomly do extra credit. At most, the least you could do is show up, even if you're not going to pay attention.

2. Pay attention in class. 

If anything, pay attention to your hardest classes. If I had to be honest, there are some classes that I literally show up to and don't pay attention to at all. But when it comes to my most difficult classes, I show up and actively copy down what my professor is saying. More often than not, your teacher will go way more in-depth on certain topics.

3. If possible, copy class notes ahead of time.

For the classes where my teachers post the notes ahead of time, I copy them down the night before. It may seem like a waste of time, especially when you'd rather be watching Netflix, but it helps tremendously. That way, when you're in class, you can focus solely on what the teacher is saying and take the time to write that down instead.

4. Go to office hours. 

Go. To. Office. Hours.

I promise you won't regret it. And even if it doesn't end up helping you, the worst thing that has happened is that you wasted about 30 minutes of your day. I go to office hours if I get a lower test score than I expected, if I want my TA's to check over my assignments for feedback before I turn them in (if possible), and if I want feedback after assignments are graded in order to understand what I did wrong. I've noticed that my work, and even my test scores, improve when I take the time and effort to see either my TA or my teacher during office hours.

5. Fill out the study guide (if there is one).

If your study guide is based on your powerpoint notes, don't sit there and copy and paste the slides into your word document. Repetition is key. Take the time to either write out or type out (if you're like me and prefer using your laptop) the answers. While you may not necessarily be directly learning when doing this, you are still introducing the information to your brain. Don't just rely on other people to send you their study guides, or even just pay for one. While it may seem easier to do it that way, other people's study guides may not be correct.

6. After filling out the study guide, or creating your own, go over it with highlighter and pen. 

I don't just mean reading it over and over. After I make my study guide, or even print out my notes, my first run through always includes a highlighter and a pen. I highlight important things (even if it means highlighting every single thing) and write little notes and comments to myself on the page. The highlighter will help you focus on the important things and writing out little notes will help you internalize the information.

7. After you've gone through with the highlighter and pen, read it over and over. 

Like I previously said, repetition is key. Read it over and over. And over. Read it as many times as possible. Read it when you're walking to class, read it when you're on the toilet, and read it when you're eating. While it may seem excessive, you will do much better on your exams. Why? Because repetition is key.

8. Study without any distractions. 

I prefer to study individually, there's nothing I hate more than studying with other people or in groups. I get distracted very easily when others are around me. Moreover, I tend to mix up facts and get confused when I hear other people discussing the material, especially if they say the wrong things. Try going to the library, your apartment's study rooms, or even a coffee shop. Wherever you study best at, go there.

9. Put your phone away.

No distractions. If you're the type of person who continually checks their phone while studying , put it away. Lock it in your room. Put it in your backpack. It doesn't matter where you are, but don't look at it. The more you look at it while you're studying, the less information you'll retain. Not to mention that once you go on your phone, you're less likely to put it down. Trust me, I know this better than anyone.

10. Read the textbook. 

Crazily enough, reading the textbook/assigned readings actually does help you understand the material better. Who knew? If you're not going to read them when they're actually assigned, you should at least read them before the test. At most, skim them over. Read the introduction and conclusion. If you're filling out a study guide, use the book/assigned readings to expand on the material.

11.  Try to study in advance.

If possible, try to start studying a week ahead. However, if I had to be honest, I only study this far in advance if I know it's going to be an incredibly difficult test. Other than that, I mostly study two days in advance. Sometimes the night before... With that being said, only study the night before if you know you can get away with it. If you constantly study the night before and repeatedly fail your tests, maybe you should start studying ahead of time. However, if you're like me and can manage to study the night before (in rare circumstances) and still get an 'A', then go for it. Just keep in mind that your brain will retain a lot more information, and you will remain a lot less stressed, if you study a little bit each day.

12.  Take study breaks.

This is important. Don't sit there and study for hours and hours and hours. Your brain will hate you, your body will hate you, and you will hate you. Take breaks, even if it's five minutes. Try taking a walk, doing some stretches, or even eating a snack. Your brain can only retain so much information and it deserves a break here and there. I'm not saying take a break and get distracted for two hours, but take breaks responsibly.

13.  Keep track of homework/assignments/tests with a calendar. 

It doesn't matter if you use a planner, a desk calendar, or even your phone calendar. Take the time to insert all of your assignments, homework, and tests into your calendar so that you can have an idea of when everything is due. Better yet, this will help you determine how long, and when, you're able to study for certain classes. You'll be much more organized and a lot less stressed.

14.  Say facts out loud instead of just reading them in your head.

I learn a lot more, and retain a lot more, when I say my notes out loud. If you're shy, just sit in your room and read them to yourself. If your roommates or your friends don't care, just sit there and read it out to them. Don't just read your notes verbatim but also explain out concepts. It doesn't matter if your friends are listening or not, just read it out loud and I guarantee it will help you remember a lot more.

15.  Utilize Quizlet if you don't mind typing everything in. 

For those of you who don't know what Quizlet is, it's literally just flashcards on an app. I think it's super convenient and easy to use. Better yet, it's on your phone and everyone always has their phone on them. Flip through the cards as you're walking to class or even sitting on the toilet. Like I mentioned with study guides though, it will benefit you a lot more if you take the type to type out everything, rather than just copy and pasting the material onto the cards.

I think it's super important to take school seriously and study for your exams. Don't just shrug everything off and call it a day. However, in the long run, failing one test here and there is not the end of the world. Take the time to study and try your best, that's the most that anybody can do.

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6 Things I Didn't Really Need in My Freshman Dorm, And 6 Things I Wish I Brought Instead

I promise you, being Pinterest-worthy just doesn't make sense in a dorm.

As I packed up my dorm room and unpacked it all once I got home, I kinda felt stupid. I moved in with 2 cars full of stuff (yes, I know how extra that sounds and yes, it was indeed that extra) and I didn't end up needing half of it. Now, I'm swimming in stuff I need to get rid of while holding on to the stuff I didn't realize I would need and ended up buying mid-year. No matter how much you think you know everything, first-time dorm residents, please listen.

6 things I DIDN'T need but swore I did

1. All my personal books

I mean, I'm an English major and I love to read, but no one, and I mean no one, A) has free time and B) uses that free time to read in college.

2. Keurig

There's a coffee shop I can use my cafe credits at on my way to class. I never woke up early enough to brew my own coffee, and I never craved it bad enough in the afternoon to feel like I needed to make my own immediately. It was nice to make tea with though.

3. Dishes and Silverware/Excessive Mugs

All you need is 1 mug and a couple of water bottles. I promise you paper plates and plastic silverware are all you need.

4. An overabundance of office supplies

I didn't use all those fancy office supplies in high school, so as much as I love them, I have yet to reach for them in college.

5. T.V.

The T.V. I had was only slightly bigger than my laptop screen and the wifi at my dorm wasn't good enough for streaming. I hardly used it, but I know others used theirs a lot. Just a personal preference!

6. Tons of wall art

I totally believe wall art has the power to make a dorm room feel less institutional, but I wish I had brought more pictures from home to make my room personal. Pinterest dorm rooms just aren't real, and they aren't what you want when you're homesick.

6 things I wish I had bought before school started

1. ID Lanyard

I personally love these ones from Vera Bradley , but honestly, any way you can carry your ID, money, and keys all in one is a life changer.

2. Earplugs / Eye Mask

Dorms are loud even during quiet hours and sometimes your roommate stays up later or gets up earlier than you do. Amazon couldn't ship these to me fast enough.

3. Wireless Headphones/Earbuds

Personally, I'm an earbuds girl, but either one does the trick. It's nice to not have to deal with cords and to be able to connect to any of your devices without an adapter.

4. Laptop Shell/Stickers

Almost everyone ends up ordering stickers to put on their laptop to express themselves to those around them. On a practical level though, you're probably going to have the same laptop as 5+ other students in your lecture and you will probably throw your laptop in a bag and run at some point. A shell and some stickers will provide more protection than you realize. Check out RedBubble for some great options.

5. Small vacuum

This is especially important if you get a rug. Sweeping is not pleasant, and the vacuums at your dorm are probably older than you are.

6. Pictures from home

Like I said before, wall art isn't going to comfort you when you want to go home. A picture of your dog or best friend sure will though.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Gherna

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College Made Me Feel Like I Can't Have Free Time

Every second that I do have free, I feel like I need to be working on some type of homework.


There's no doubt that college is taxing on most student's mental health. You get to the point where you feel stressed about even breathing. I have hit the point where I feel like I'm permanently affected by the stress that I've dealt with this semester.

I used to have so much free time. Even in my other semesters, I had time to hang out with my friends, work, and even be lazy when I wanted to be.

I was still a good student, I got all my assignments done on time and I worked hard on them, but I never really had an overwhelming workload.

That is, until this semester. I got to a point where work was overwhelming, I was working longer hours than I was used to, and having to spend every second that I wasn't in class or at work doing homework, whether it was just lengthy math problems or writing multiple essays or scripts.

After months of being in this habit, when my workload from both work and school died down and I actually had free time, I didn't know what to do with myself.

When my friends were busy and I just wanted a relaxing day at home, since I felt like I deserved it, I would try to just lay down and rest, either reading a good book or catching up on all the shows that my stress had caused me to miss.

But there was always a voice in the back of my head reminding me of every upcoming assignment. I would start thinking about the essay due the next week, or a test that I could be studying for ahead of time.

That voice kept telling me I was being unproductive and wasting my time if I wasn't getting ahead on school work when I finally had the time.

And so I'm still in a position, at the end of the semester, where I feel like I'm wasting my time every time I lay down and just want to take a nap because I'm exhausted from running between work and school. I'm trying to fight myself and tell myself that I am allowed to be lazy for at least a little bit, and I don't need to be constantly working.

Hopefully, that voice wins over, especially with summer coming up. With all of the free time, I'll have since I won't have to stress about school, hopefully, I'll be able to better balance my busy days with my lazy days.

I know this is probably an issue for many college students who are overwhelmed with everything that they have to do. Hopefully, summer break is a nice break for all of us and it gives us the chance to get the free time that we all deserve for surviving this semester, and the school year overall.

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