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How to be successful in college with a 4.0.

Because I want to learn as much as I can in college so i can become successful and talk about everything I learned so people can know how amazing learning is.#collegesuccess


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Matthew L.’s Answer

Hi Norris.

I would echo what Betsy said. Your job in college is expose yourself to as many new things as you can and, above all, to find what you love. College is the place where to try things and make mistakes. It's all part of the learning process.

That said, your goal of getting a 4.0 is a great idea. The higher your grades are in college, the more opportunities you will have after you graduate. People who have a 4.0 or who graduate with honors (magna, summa) will open many doors for you. It's hard but well worth it. Usually to graduate with honors you have to have above a 3.5 GPA but schools vary on what the ranges are. Investigate what your college does. If you look at the attorneys, accountants, scientists and consultants top firms hire, you will find most or all have very high GPAs and graduated with honors.

Here are best ways I've found to get top grades:

1. Figure How to Study Effectively - The best way to achieve a high GPA is to figure out how to study effectively. People who are the best studiers get the best grades. They retain more and can regurgitate it back to the professors in the way they want to see it. If you're getting A's in high school, you may have already figured this out. Look for books on how to study and find what works for you.

2. Figure out What Kind of Learner You Are - Related to number 1 above is to learn what kind of learner you how. People learn (take in, understand and retain information) in different ways. It depends on how your brain is wired. Experts believe there are four main types of learners. These are:

a. Visual Learners - Visual learners best comprehend information by visualizing relationships and ideas. Maps, charts, diagrams and essays work best for visual learners. Many visual learners need quiet time to themselves to study. They may speak fast and they may prefer to work alone rather than in groups.

You're probably a visual learner if:
- Your notes are covered with drawings
- You are good with remembering faces but not names
- You can spell well
- You’d rather read a story than listen to it
- You’re good with maps and directions

Here are some study tips for visual learners:
- Sit in the front of the classroom so you can take notes off the board
- Translate your notes into charts, diagrams and lists
- Use color coding to help create categories and sections
- Study for tests with flashcards (write your own on recipe cards--don't buy pre-made ones)
- Find a quiet place to study, avoid distractions and figure what system works best for you


b. Auditory Learners - As the name suggests, Auditory Learners learn and retain information best by hearing it. They tend to prefer listening to information rather than reading it or seeing it visually displayed. Auditory learners may speak and read slowly. They tend to be linear thinkers and may repeat things they hear out loud.

You're probably and Auditory Learner if:
- You are easily distracted by noises
- You have difficulty working quietly for long periods of time
- You are a good listener
- You easily remember what others say

Study tips for auditory learners:
- Read aloud to yourself when possible
- Join a study group in order to discuss ideas with other students (hearing ideas and facts repeated will help you retain and understand them)
- When using flashcards, read your responses out loud (again, hearing = retention)
- Utilize videos and audio tapes for listening. There are TONS of great videos on Youtube, Kahn Academy and other places where you can find videos on your exact subject (if possible record your own audio tapes). Check out iTunes and great colleges like MIT who have class lectures for free on line.
- Record lectures for reviewing notes if the professors allow it. Even if they don't allow recording, you may be able to get special permission if you explain why you want the recordings.

c. Kinesthetic Learners - Kinesthetic Learners are hands-on learners. They absorb and retain information best by doing and can get fidgety if forced to sit for long periods of time. Kinesthetic learners do best when they can participate in activities or solve problems in a hands-on manner. They tend to have good coordination and best remember what they do themselves.

You probably a Kinesthetic Learner if:
- You excel at sports, art or drama
- You enjoy building, making or creating
- You have trouble sitting still
- You fiddle with objects while thinking

Study tips for Kinesthetic Learners:
- Study in blocks of time with frequent breaks (take a break if you get fidgety)
- Walk around or pace while reviewing your notes
- Trace words with your fingers as you study
- Use flashcards, games or activities to study (again, make your own flashcards)
- Toss a tennis ball around or balance on a skateboard while you’re thinking

d. Reading & Writing Learners - Reading and Writing Learners are extremely comfortable with the written word. They prefer to consume information by reading texts and can better absorb information by condensing and rephrasing it. The traditional college lecture and note-taking environment works well for the reading/writing learning style.

You are probably a Reading/Writing Learner if:
- You love making lists and revising lists of terms, concepts or ideas
- You enjoy reading and writing
- You prefer to have and can more easily follow written directions

Study tips for Reading/Writing Learners:
- Review your class notes afterwards and rewrite them to make them neater and to be sure you understand them. Don't wait until the end of the term. Do it daily or weekly at the longest.
- Use printouts of presentations to follow along (your professors should provide these. If they don't ask for them)
- Seek resources in articles, e-books and essays
- Rewrite ideas in your own words (flash cards or outlines)
- Translate visual information into statements

Some experts believe there are actually eight types of learners. The ones mentioned above are just the four most common types. Read more about the other types here: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/rhubarb/fingerprints-learning-styles.html.

3. Join or Create a Study Group - In college and law school I found that study groups were a great way to learn. It forces you to meet to study and you get to discuss ideas and concepts you don't understand. If you miss class because you're sick, you can also get the notes from your group. BUT: make all your own notes and outlines. Do not rely on the notes of other people as your primary study materials.

4. Go to Every Single Class, Do All the Homework and Read Every Assignment- There is a definite correlation between going to class and getting good grades. When your parents are watching you it's temping to sleep in and skip class or just get a friend's notes. Don't do it. You'll hear urban legends about the guy who never went to class and got all A's. Doesn't happen. Go to every class. The professors need to see you and many grade partially on attendance. Don't let one too many absences turn that borderline "A" into a "B". Read every assignment and keep up. You will retain lectures better if you've done the readings. Highlight your books and don't rely on the highlighting in used books. The prior owner may have been a poor student. Do your own work. Some profs will let you redo your homework or papers to get a better grade. Always take this opportunity. And always do extra credit.

5. Become Great Friends with Your Professors - Make the time to get to know ALL of your professors. I didn't do this nearly enough. Get over your shyness and go visit them during office hours. Discuss the class and make sure you understand everything. Profs love to teach. They also love to hear themselves talk. You also get insight into what they are going to put on the tests. They will get to know and like you and give you better grades because they see you are truly interested. Take very chance to get to know them. Plus, you'll eventually need a letter of recommendation or internship. I received the best letters from my college profs. They become part of your network and can get you jobs or help get you into grad school. And remember, you're paying them to teach you. Squeeze them dry for every drop of knowledge. You can also get great fellowships and study opportunities in your field when you assist them with their research.

6. Be Dedicated and Professional and Make Schedule - The best students are the ones who understand that studying and learning is your main job. Friends and parties should come second. Don't completely become a hermit but remember that college is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end which is grad school or a great job. Good grades and stuff on your resume is how you get there. College is hard. Good colleges are REALLY hard. Graduate school is even harder. If you did not learn how to study in high school, you need to learn for college. I did not learn how to study well in high school and had to learn it in college. Fast. Plan your studying in advance. Look at the class syllabus and plot all the exams, papers and major assignments for your term. You may have two massive things do at once. If you know they're coming, you can plan accordingly so you do great on both and don't have to choose.

7. Surround Yourself with other Smart Dedicated People - Create a competitive environment to help motivate yourself. Wanting to get a better grade than someone your actually friends with is a great motivator. Learn what the really smart ones who get great grades do differently and model their behavior.

8. Teach/Tutor Others - If you're great at a subject, teach your friends. Teaching is a great way to drum the material into your own head.

9. Get a Tutor for Stuff You Just Don't Get - There may come a time when you just can't get something. Maybe the prof is terrible (the best and worst teachers I ever had were in college). Maybe the material is just super hard (like organic chemistry). Maybe it's math and you're a poet. Whatever it is, get help fast. If you're not getting the material talk to your prof and get a tutor. Every school has tutors. You can also buy study aids for classes. Don't use these as substitutes. Use them as supplements and study aids for concepts you just don't fully get.

10. Take Summer Classes - If you know you're weak an area like math, take a summer course at a community college before you get to real college. It's a good warm up and will help you see what college is like.

11. Study Prior Exams & Learn to be a Good Test Taker - Many professors keep prior exams on file in the library or on line. Study these and write out the answers to stud from if they are available. If they are not, ask the prof if he/she will share them. These will show you how the prof thinks and what the test will look like. Some profs even provide sample answers for old tests. However, don't get old tests from people who took the class before. This may not be allowed. Ask the prof before you try it and make sure it's okay. It may be considered cheating. But do get general advice on the class from people who took it before you. Learn how to take tests. There are techniques to do well on essay and multiple choice tests. Good test takers have a great advantage.

12. Make Sure You Know How to Write Well - It's vital to your college and professional life that you be able to write well and articulate your ideas clearly, particularly if you're a liberal arts major. If you're not good at writing, buy some books (Strunk & White's Elements of Style is great. Read it. Learn it. Live it.). Take a writing class at the community college before you start real college.

Try to become the most well-rounded person you can be. Join clubs, take elective classes outside your major that you might not have considered, study abroad. Unusual or interesting things on your resume become great conversation starters for grad school admission and interviews with your future employers. They make you stand out.

You can do this. Never ever give up.

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Betsy’s Answer

Hi Norris! Having a 4.0 GPA in college is a great goal! While having a strong GPA is certainly important, it's certainly not the only predictor of your future success. College is a great time to find out what interests you and it can offer you great leadership opportunities. If you love learning and want to encourage others to learn, you might look into volunteering with younger students in the community, helping younger students work on college applications, tutoring organizations and much more. Not only will you be helping others, but you'll be exploring your passion and creating experiences that you can share in the future, be on a job interview or a discussion with others about the joy of learning. Good luck! #volunteering #teaching #collegesuccess

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