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Easy Ways to Improve Your College GPA

Updated on July 8, 2014
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Jeannie has been writing online for over eight years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.

It's all about the class schedule.

If you are attending college or plan on attending college soon, I would like to give you some helpful advice. Anyone attending college should be concerned about his or her GPA (grade point average) and ways to improve it. Many factors go into a GPA: your major, how much you study, how often you attend class, and your intelligence. I would also like to add something you may not have considered to the list: your class schedule.

When picking your classes, you need to consider more than just what is required to graduate. You need to consider who is teaching the class, the time of day the class is scheduled, if it meshes well with other classes that semester, and a number of other factors. I would like to help you help yourself!

Don't pay attention to the levels.

At pretty much every college, the classes are labeled by a simple numbering system, such as:

  • 100 Level - Freshman
  • 200 Level - Sophomore
  • 300 Level - Junior
  • 400 Level - Senior

I dare say these levels do not mean a thing.  Some of the easiest classes I ever attended were 300 level; some of the most difficult classes were 100 or 200 level.  It depends on the subject and it depends on the professor.  What you will find is more prerequisites for the upper level classes.  If you take the prerequisites for an upper level class in your first semester, do not underestimate your ability to take a "junior" level class in your second semester.  That junior level class may be easier than you imagine. 

Get to know the professors.

Your first semester or two is going to be tough at a new school. You will not know anything at first and you are going to have to hope for the best when registering for classes. Also, since you are a first year, you will not have dibs on the best classes anyway. Upper classmen will have the opportunity to register before you, and 9 times out of 10, they will take the best classes. Don't worry - your day will come, too.

When you do learn the names of professors and your required classes, ask around and find out more about the professors. Find out which professor is an easy A. Find out who is most strict about attendance. Learn which professors will allow you to earn extra credit. Your classmates can help you out by sharing their experiences with you.

Find an advisor you can trust and listen to that advisor.

While attending college, you can pick an advisor for your classes. This professor can take you through the requirements and review your schedule with you before you register.

First, pick an advisor you can trust. It is best to pick a professor if you've already taken a class with him or her. The professor probably understands your learning style and would have a better idea what classes you should take.

Second, ask other students who they recommend. Some professors are just better at giving advice than others. You need to find someone that will be honest with you and let you know if you probably won't do well with a certain professor. Also, professors that have taught at the school for a long time know the other professors well, and can make better recommendations.

Last, but never least, once you have picked an advisor based on the above information, LISTEN to that advisor. I made a mistake once. I picked an advisor I really liked, but I thought I did not need help with my schedule. I had decided on a number of classes that fit my schedule perfectly. I showed the advisor my list and he said he did not recommend it. He felt two of the classes were going to be too demanding to take together that semester. What did I do? I signed up for them anyway. Who was right? My advisor. The next time I visited him with a new schedule for the next semester, he made more recommendations and I listened to him. That semester went much smoother.

 

Plan a schedule based on your new knowledge.

Once you've learned more about your professors and the classes they offer, choose your classes based on your abilities, when you are most alert during the day, and the classes required for your major.

For instance, if you are a morning person and you are required to take a difficult class to graduate, register for the difficult class in the morning if you can. Plan other easy classes around that class so you are not so stressed. Also, mix the classes up a bit. If you are taking 2 science classes that semester, do not schedule those classes for the same morning. Even if you love science, you may find that difficult. If you are taking 4 science classes that semester, you may have to schedule 2 for the same morning.

Register for more classes than you need.

A great strategy when scheduling classes is to sign up for more than you need. I know you are thinking I am crazy now, but hear me out. If you need 5 classes per semester to graduate, register for 6 each semester. There is usually a one to two week grace period when you can drop any class without a penalty. It will never even show on a transcript.

A great way to take advantage of this system is to register for 6 classes and attend all the classes the first week. Based on your first week, you can drop the class you feel will be the most difficult as long as it is not a required course. The worst thing you can do is stay in a class you know you can't pass and then drop it halfway through the semester. Especially if you only registered for the standard 5 classes. Now you are short on a class and you will have to take a summer class or take 6 classes one semester to make up for it. Don't let that happen to you if you can prevent it.

If you do have to take 6 classes in one semester, do not panic.  It does happen to the best of us.  The 6 class semester is the perfect time to take some basic general education classes.  Every school allows you to pick some classes that have nothing to do with your major.  I recommend taking some classes that interest you and (research the professor, of course) should be easy.  If you are not great at a certain subject, it is in your best interest to avoid that subject for that semester.

Do your best!

Now that I've taught you some of my own tricks for a great GPA, let me remind you that hard work and going to class is still essential.  Just because you've worked the course schedule to your advantage does not mean you can slack off.  You will still have to study hard for some classes.  There will be some classes that are required and you will never get out of them.  I recommend showing up for every single class for those difficult courses. 

When an extra credit assignment is available, do it.  Even if you think you are doing great in a class, do it anyway.  You never know if you may catch the flu and miss a few classes.  It is not hard to fall behind and that extra credit can save your GPA.  Also, you may need that professor for a reference for a job or grad school someday.  Professors tend to like students that turn in extra credit and go the extra mile.

So just go out there and do your best!  Plan the best possible schedule, study hard, and get those grades! 

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