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How to make the Dean’s List

Updated on September 10, 2015
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Erin Shelby is passionate about living a lifestyle that aims for financial freedom. She writes about personal finance and other topics.

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Are you about to start college classes? Whether you’re a first-year college student or a lifelong learner, you can make the dean’s list. Here's how you can plan to earn this honor.

Rule #1: Carefully Consider Your Major

While it’s important to consider the employment rate and potential compensation of a major, consider the appeal of its classes and compare it to your interests. If you choose to study something you despise, you’ll spend a lot of time learning about things you don’t care about. Needless to say, you won’t exactly be radiating passion about the subject matter when you eventually interview for internships or jobs, and you won't have a natural interest in learning more about it. Consider your interests, abilities and goals before declaring a major, and seek guidance if you need it. Getting great grades is much easier when you're studying something you enjoy.

Rule #2: Set Limits

Be honest with yourself when you select your classes. If you just barely made the entrance requirement for a math or science class, you may want to err on the side of caution and take the easier class. Without a proper foundation of understanding, it will be a frustrating experience, especially if you’re taking a sequence of classes over several semesters, such as Anatomy I, then Anatomy II. Be honest with yourself about the time of day a class is being offered. While you may need another history credit, will you really stay committed to getting up every Saturday morning for a nine o’clock lecture that lasts four hours? Finally, consider your entire class schedule as a whole. Write down the class times along with times you'll be studying, sleeping, working, volunteering and participating in campus activities. Have you over scheduled yourself or is everything just right?

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Rule #3: Cramming Isn’t Fun

Whether you’re writing a mid-term paper or studying for final exams, waiting until the last minute isn’t fun. Cramming is risky: it places a huge bet on a small amount of time that something won’t go wrong. It’s a bet that the printer will work right before the deadline or that there won’t be a power outage in the one lab where you can finish your final project. See the problem? While you might pull it off, there’s an easier way. Working towards deadlines in smaller increments every day is more enjoyable and produces better results. Your papers will be better and your memory for tests will be better.

Rule #4: Plan Ahead

Some students need to plan for special circumstances. Art students may have projects that can only be completed at an on-campus darkroom. Athletes will have game and practice schedules to consider. Students who are parents need to think about who will watch their children during finals week. Those who work off-campus need to know how much flexibility an employer will give them for school conflicts.

Rule #5: Appreciate the Value of Sleep

Do you make sleep a priority? Many college students have a list of things to do that can go into the late night hours, whether it’s studying, working, attending campus club meetings or socializing. Sleep often gets sacrificed. If your grades are a priority, you must make time to sleep. Being tired makes everything harder – including taking notes and thinking clearly - and guarantees you won’t reach your full potential.

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© 2013 erinshelby

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