It’s been a week now, and the government shutdown is still in effect. What does that mean for education? Continue reading to find out…
Success in school is often measured by the grades you get. For some of us, getting good grades is more than difficult–it seems like no matter how we try, we can’t follow through. With this list on getting good grades (that applies to all levels), maybe we can change that and get on the path to good grades…
Five steps to getting good grades
I. Get Organized
If you’re anything like any of us at HGU, we sometimes get caught up in the organization and forget to move past the step. We sometimes find ourselves lost in endless check-lists and to-dos that never get done. Don’t get us wrong, organization is important (hence why it’s on the list), but don’t get lost in it!
- Get a planner. Most phones have calendars, and smartphones have apps you can download for daily checklists. (See our top smartphone apps post here). At the beginning of every semester, get your syllabus and go through your calendar/planner and mark all the due dates, tests, and projects. You can even color code if you’re feeling crazy.
- Organize your workspace. This helps avoid losing things, and it helps our minds feel in order if our space is in order. Don’t believe us? Try it out!
- Schedule time for study. Decide how much time you need to devote to each class and pick specific times at which you will buckle down and study.
II. Learn the Information
They key to getting good grades is learning the information. This seems obvious, but so many people try to get by with cramming and learning just enough to get through each test. That method is more stressful and less predictable. Sure and steady is the way to go! As a similar warning from the organization section, don’t let your desire for perfect flash cards take you so long that you don’t actually get to study them.
- Figure out your learning style. Are you a visual learner? Auditory? Hands-on? A combination? Figure it out, then apply those methods to your study and your in-class note-taking.
- Read the texts. Everyone hates this, everyone tries to avoid this and most people don’t make it past this point on the list. Why? Because college reading is hard, we totally understand. That’s why we made a post with tips for college reading. If you’re not in college yet, this is still incredibly helpful and it can’t hurt to prepare.
- Take good notes. Notes are critical to good grades, because the things that are taught in class are what you’re going to be tested on. Like we said at the first bullet of this section, your learning style demands you take notes in a certain way. If you’re an auditory learner, don’t spend the class time with your head in a notebook; instead, listen and during breaks or lulls, take a moment to write/type the things you remember from class. Write in the margins of your books. Place sticky-notes in important places. Clearly mark them.
- Study your notes. If study guides aren’t provided by your teacher, find out what will be on the test and make your own. Review your class notes during specific study times that you’ve set apart for the day or week, even if the next test isn’t for weeks. This helps cement the information and you’ll find yourself actually learning!
- Get friends involved. Friends or classmates are great for helping you learn the material. Ask them to quiz you. It’s important to say your answers aloud. This forces you to form your thoughts into sentences and makes concepts turn into more concrete statements.
- Participate in class. There’s a reason participation is usually part of your grade. Those that participate in discussions, activities, and study groups are more likely to understand the information from multiple perspectives. Also, this is a great skill to practice for situations outside of school. Being able to discuss respectfully and maturely are great qualities.
- Ask for help. If you don’t understand, ask. Teachers are there to help you. It’s literally what they get paid for. Ask the questions. If you’re not comfortable doing it in class, ask for a meeting, but sometimes you asking a question in class will help other students who might also have that same question. A lot of schools offer free tutors to students, so check out those options at your learning institutions and take advantage of them.
III. Do. your. homework. Seriously. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
The hardest part for most people is doing the assignments or readings that feel like busy work. Well, whether you like them or not, agree with them or don’t, if you want to get good grades, you have to do them. It’s important to realize we’re not entitled to good grades. You have to work for them, and like most things in life, that sometimes means doing things you think are stupid, dumb, or of no use. Good grades get you to good colleges which give you more opportunities–and then you can make the rules!
- Do assignments ASAP. Starting assignments right after they’re assigned will help you remember and apply what you learned in class. Even if the assignment isn’t due for two weeks, do it right away. Nip that procrastination flower right in the bud.
- Do extra credit. Yes, it is more work that isn’t required, so why would you do it? Here’s a great life lesson: people are separated in life by whether or not they choose to go the extra steps by doing more than is required of them. Boom.
- Make homework a top priority. There’s a story of a man who has a to-do list. He prioritizes activities for the day by assigning them a number. 1’s have to get done ASAP. 3’s should be done today, but are optional. He finds he would rather start with the 3’s because they seem more fun. Don’t fall into that trap. Make priorities and stick to them. True discipline is doing the dirty work before indulgence.
- Have study parties. If you really just need your friend-fix, invite a few friends over to work on homework. The only stipulation is that everyone must bring assignments to work on, or else conversations will spring up and no one will get anything done. Great excuse to order a pizza, too.
- Don’t plagiarize. Just don’t. Do your own work. You might be able to fake it for a while, but no one can fake knowing things for very long–not to mention getting caught could put an end to your college career. Some schools won’t accept students who have been disciplined for plagiarism.
IV. Prepare for your Tests
- Stop cramming. As was mentioned before, cramming is stressful and will likely make you frustrated. Some students take pride in staying up all night before a test to cram all the information they can. Wouldn’t you rather be the one who has learned the information over a long period of time, and the day before the test is simply a review of the most important information? Wouldn’t you rather approach a test calmly and with confidence? Confidence comes from a solid foundation built over time, not scrambled together all at once.
- Get sleep. Being well-rested, eating a good breakfast, and being relaxed are great tips for life in general–especially for tests. If you have to choose between staying up to study and sleep, pick sleep. It’s much better to go to bed early and wake up early. You’ll feel better.
V. Make Good Decisions
If you want good grades, you have to make decisions of a Grade-A person. You have to be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t handle.
- Choose the right classes. This doesn’t mean choose the easiest classes, but maybe don’t schedule your whole semester with the hardest teachers. Balance out your schedule with the hard, impressive classes AND the simpler ones. Don’t take 25 credits in one semester. Heck, don’t even take 18 unless you want to hate yourself! (Or have your grades suffer). Know your limits. Be honest with yourself.
- ATTEND YOUR CLASSES. Does it matter how well you choose your classes if you don’t go? No. So go. Even if you don’t feel like it. With some teachers, just showing up to class is enough to earn extra points–not to mention the stress it will be to try and catch up.
- Keep track of your grades. See how you do on tests and learn from it. Ask teachers for clarification if you don’t understand.
- Manage your time. Be wise, young grasshopper. It’s important to be well-rounded and have a well-rounded schedule. Don’t spend 100% of your time on any one thing, or you will go insane.
- Haters gonna hate. People might look down on you for prioritizing your studies. Who cares, do whatever feels best for you.
In conclusion, there will always be sacrifices. You may have to sacrifice a night out for a night in to finish a paper; however, if you find yourself sacrificing a social life in general, maybe you’ve given yourself too big of a workload. It’s all about balance! Have confidence in yourself! You can do it!
Featured Image: Stefano Montagner
Those over at the National Education Association recently posted an article on how teachers can avoid conflicts with their students by decreasing power struggles. We take their advice and add our own thoughts below:
I think we’ve all either been the problem student or had to deal (directly or indirectly) with the problem students. We’ve all seen how teachers react, and learned which reactions deal with the students poorly; but how can teachers react to problem students in a way that uplifts, inspires, and corrects?
The tips the NEA gives are broken up into Dos and Don’ts. As we go through their list of just the dos (let’s focus on the positives), we’ll add explanations and illustrations.
Engage students from the beginning by providing a “hook” to keep them interested.
According to a Dr. Robert Feller of the University of Washington, helping students stay interested decreases potential disruptions. Retired teacher LaNelle Holland said:
Attention grabbers may be used to provoke thought, facilitate active learning, or just share experiences.
Some ideas for hooks/attention grabbers:
- small science experiments
- YouTube videos (may we suggest these?)
- small group activities
Try to understand a student’s personal/home life.
Another retired teacher, Diane Postman, suggests that being able to connect with a student on a personal level can help a teacher make “allowances or adaptations” to fit the individual needs of the student. This can create trust between a student and their teacher, which is likely to ward off disruptive behaviors. On the topic of creating trust with students, Ben Johnson, who is a superintendent in Texas, had this to say:
We earn our students’ trust by showing them respect in the form of meaningful, challenging, and rewarding learning activities that are worthy of their time and best efforts.
Students in their early years of school are naturally trusting, and — please don’t take this the wrong way — we abuse that trust in the name of socialization and classroom management. In essence, we teach them to obey rather than to explore. As students get older, they often trust less and start behaving…like our…suspicious visitor. Most will take what we offer but will not allow a learning partnership.
Trust works the other way, too. As teachers, we have learned to distrust our students. All it takes is one disruptive young person to ruin it for the rest of the students that follow. We don’t want to get burned again, so we tighten the rules and narrow the focus. We develop an attitude that we can’t trust our students to learn independently. Especially in the early grades, we feel it is our responsibility to control every aspect of their learning activities so things don’t get out of hand, or so they don’t make a mess. 
Turn the misbehavior into a teaching moment.
Taking time to immediately stop the confrontation is key. Showing the student in a polite manner that conflicts can be stopped before they escalate shows them an example of handling a situation in an adult manner; however, you don’t want the student to feel unheard, so in some cases is might be appropriate to set up a time to meet with the student privately to discuss the behavioral problem, such as after the period is over. To continue the trust you’re hoping to build with the student, remaining respectful is of utmost importance.
Frank Iannucci, a math and computer science teacher from West Orange, New Jersey, says teachers should immediately stop the confrontation and arrange to discuss it with the student in a mature, adult manner, regardless of the age of the student, after the period.
The most important thing is to be respectful and gain respect from love not fear! Thanks for reading and we’ll see you guys soon!
Featured Image: U.S. Department of Education
Hip hop as a musical genre got its start in the 1970s in the Bronx when DJs would take popular breaks in songs, isolate those beats, and make them longer for the audiences. Hip hop began as a sort of “voice” for the disenfranchised youth in the poorer New York City neighborhoods. Check out our cool timeline of the evolution of Hip Hop:
Every month, we at HGU have decided to read a book and break our “under 5 minutes” rule to discuss it. The book for August was Pride & Prejudice & Zombies–see the original video here.
Well, we read it. Sort of. Brittany got the farthest, reading a little past halfway. The general consensus of the book was “if you have something better to do, do that instead. If you’re bored with nothing better to do, read the book.”
It was definitely entertaining, in a very grim sort of way. Did you end up reading the book, or have you read it before? If you’ve even finished it, you got way farther than we did.
Join us next month for our September Book Club read: Remains of the Day <<— That’s a link to Amazon.com page for the book.
You have to read it by September 30th (plenty of time, right?) and send us your review by then! We’ll be posting our video that day. Join the conversation! We want to hear from you guys!
Featured Image: Roslyn
The famous poet Walt Whitman has been brought into the public eye even more with the recent shout-outs from TV series Breaking Bad. Learn a little more about this guy beyond “Leaves of Grass” with our short video on his life & legacy below:
Honors Grad U is trying to provide teachers and students with the resources necessary to help better the education system–but we can’t do that without knowing what it is that needs to be change! No matter if you’re a teacher, student, or former student, please fill out this brief form and let us know what the world needs to know.