The spring semester is finally here. Warm weather is right around the corner and with it comes many changes: new wardrobe, a more social environment, frequent parties and the like. With all these “benefits” comes a challenge: how do you manage it all with your schoolwork? That is the question many college students struggle with and most never figure out. However, the answer is simple: work smart, not hard. This philosophy is one that will help you throughout life but in this article, we will discuss the five steps you need to take in applying it in school and making this new semester your best yet.
STEP 1: GET A PLANNER
The main tool you need, apart from your textbooks, is a planner or a calendar. Before the start of each school week, take time out to plan your schedule: know what is due, where you need to be and how much time you have for extracurricular activities. This simple task of planning ahead is the foundation for the “work smart, not hard” philosophy.
STEP 2: START WORK IN ADVANCE
During the first week of school, spend some time reading those syllabi thoroughly. Sounds like common sense, but many college students fail to do this, which is the most crucial step in achieving that coveted 4.0 GPA. It not only helps knowing what will be asked of you throughout the semester but most importantly wheneach assignment is due. The average college student takes five classes a semester which usually carries a heavy workload and overlapping due dates. In order to avoid getting bombarded with work, why not give up an hour of Facebook or television time here and there and work ahead? Why not read a little of that next chapter due in a week? Perhaps tackling that term paper bit by bit will finish itself by the time you need to submit it. This not only prepares you adequately for class but also saves you time and prevents those infamous all-nighters that seem to happen frequently near the end of the semester.
STEP 3: DO YOUR HOMEWORK
No one is a fan of homework but it is probably the most important part of achieving the grade you want. Try to have a recitation period before dozing off and look over notes from classes you attended that day. This helps reinforce the information you learned in class and ensures that you have grasped each concept while preventing it from becoming ancient history come midterms or finals. Homework also bolsters your contribution in the classroom, which brings us to our next step.
STEP 4: PARTICIPATE IN CLASS
It is no secret that class participation (and attendance) counts a good amount towards your overall grade, and professors often favor those who contribute actively in class. For instance, you may have gotten a B+ in the class but it often helps when a professor remembers how much effort you showed in class and bumps your grade up to an A- or higher. Thus, make it a rule of thumb to have your voice heard in class daily and try to ask an average of three questions a day. So raise those hands and exercise those vocal cords for that A.
STEP 5: KNOW WHEN TO PARTY
You don’t celebrate before a win, only after, so why party early? Speaking from experience and observation, the most common mistake students (especially freshmen) make in the spring semester is party early. Unlike the fall semester with its freshmen week and homecoming events, the spring semester returns with little celebration, thus causing students to party hard the first couple of weeks in. However, placing schoolwork in the backseat can dig an early grave for many who don’t have their priorities in order. Try limiting your late night outings to special occasions or once a week max. Wait until you have gotten your excellent midterm grades before gallivanting around the city. Doing well in school does not mean sacrificing your social life; just know when to party. Only when that 4.0 GPA seems within reach can you begin to let loose and indulge in all the spring festivities.
Every semester usually comes with its distractions and temptations but apply the steps of the “work smart, not hard” philosophy and you will find yourself on track to getting the grades you want and meeting your full potential. Don’t beat yourself up should you slip up but always keep the ultimate goal in mind and follow through. So start the semester strong by implementing each of these five steps because working smart early on means not working hard later.