About once or twice a month, I will get an e-mail from a college student who is in real need of some advice to turn around poor academic performance. Sometimes a scholarship is on the line. Often, it’s the wrath of watchful, tuition-paying parents that’s driving the desperation. Whatever the case, in responding to these e-mails, I’ve learned to extract from the large corpus of tips surronding my study philsopophy, a core set of advice that can effect a rapid change of academic fortunes.
Here are the vital five, as I sometimes call them: tips for creating a drastic change, quickly, to a poor academic record. These changes aren’t easy. But if you need results, and are willing to follow through, they’ll get the job done:
- Attend every class. Take notes on a laptop.
- Set aside a fixed two-hour study block for every weekday and Sunday. Use this time to study, in a remote corner of the library, without exception, every week of the term.
- Make a study plan for every test in every class at the beginning of the term. Decide what you are going to do and when.
- Replace rote review with quiz and recall.
- Attend office hours every single week to discuss the most challenging material from lecture, or the hardest problems from the problem set. Inform the professor that you are making a real effort this term to turn around your performance.