Written by Jill Yuill
Have you ever met someone who seems to effortlessly get good grades? Meanwhile you’ve been cramming all night in hopes of getting a passing grade?
I’ll be honest with you: I get pretty good grades. It’s definitely not because I am smart or academically inclined, and I’ve spent my fair share of all-nighters. But over the years I’ve learned to take some “short cuts” that have drastically reduced my cramming sessions and all-nighters.
Short Cut 1: Read before class
I know you’re thinking “how does doing MORE work get me ahead? I can barely finish my assignments on time”. While turning in assignments are important – completed assignments and exams are the basis for your grades, after all – completing your readings is the first step in completing your assignments.
Think about investing time in your readings like investing money. The benefits of having that money saved can be anything from not having to work extra shifts to being free to have a night out. Completing your readings before class works the same way. Having come to class prepared means you’ll retain more information from discussions and likely take better notes.
But the benefits of completing your readings doesn’t end there! By keeping notes organized and accessible, you won’t waste time searching for them later. And by being ready to participate in class discussions you can score participation grades.
Short Cut 2: Get the inside scoop on assignments and exams
Imagine how much easier assignments and exams would be if you knew what the professor expected of you.
Professors hold regular office hours on campus (found on your syllabus). By stopping by with questions or partially completed work to review, you can gain clarity as to if you are spending your time in the right areas.
Can’t make it to their office hours? Don’t be afraid to email your professor. Be concise and respectful- your professor will appreciate being asked for guidance.
Short Cut 3: Find someone to help you… for free!
Until this very year, I consulted the same 10-year-old handbook for all my citation needs. Only recently did I discover an online citation tool accessible through the Trent University library webpage. What a time saver!
Being an efficient, effective student means knowing how to use the resources available. For example, I’ll never have the MLA standards memorized, but I know where to find the citation tool. As an English major, I’ll never be able to memorize every theorist, but I have learned to navigate the library’s online catalogue. There is ample support on campus, and by taking advantage of the expertise of others, students have a better chance at successfully completing assignments.
Give yourself the gift of a helping hand by utilizing these campus resources:
- For help with essay writing + online Academic Skill references: Learner Support Services (both in person and online)
- For research and reference help: Trent University Durham Library
- For study groups and academic mentoring: the Academic Mentoring Program
There are no “easy” ways to go about being a successful student, but there are ways to become more productive, efficient and effective. Like anything in life, we get out what we put in. The best “short cuts” aren’t so much short cuts, as making smart investments in our time and attention.