The Portrait of a Successful Student: How to Make High Grades and Live a Happy College Life?


Every student studying any course should always want to get high marks otherwise what’s the point of even studying if you have low standards. To get high marks, you need to put the effort in even though some students might see it as a huge mountain to climb. Believing in yourself is one of the main things you can do in your quest to get good grades because it brings optimism.

Studying a little every day and taking notes while attending lectures does go a long way, however, if you are feeling like you’ve hit a wall, always ask your tutor for help. Many students fail to achieve high grades because they are shy to talk to their tutor when they need help. Leaving things till the last minute only brings unnecessary stress and to avoid this, you’ll have to keep track of assignment deadlines and stay organized at all times.

You need to make sure that you are in good health too because your academic performance depends on it. Sleep as much as possible, exercise often, and anything that causes a distraction should be put to the side so that you remain focused. Below are some things you can do to make high grades and live a happy college life.

Use your time wisely

To get good grades, you need to know how to manage yourself wisely as this can make a massive difference both short and long term.

Give yourself some much-needed encouragement

If you are not getting the grades that you feel you deserve, it can be easy to feel down, however, feeling optimistic and self-encouragement help massively. Always know that there are areas you need to work on to improve and remind yourself that you can get good grades with some hard work.

Instead of looking at yourself as a failure, see yourself as a winner. Pump yourself up every day to empower yourself as this will motivate you to conquer any challenges that your studies throw at you.

Attend classes and participate at all times

When you are in class, do your part and participate at every available chance. Take notes so that you can look at them when you get home and when your tutors ask questions, try to answer. If you give a wrong answer, use that as a chance to learn more about the subject.

By actively participating in class, you increase your chances of getting a high mark and showing your tutors that you are serious about the course. If you are a reserved and shy student, you can write things down on a piece of paper and ask your tutor later.

Make your notes easy to read

When you are note-taking, you have to make sure everything you put down on paper is legible so that it is easy to get back to when you revisit it. Summarize what you learned in the lecture in your own words instead of copying everything down word for word.

Feel free to use keywords, bullet points, and headings, and abbreviate everything where necessary. When class is over, you can sit down with your classmates and compare notes. This will help you improve upon what you have already written and increase your chances of getting a high grade. Below are some good note-taking tips:

  • Take down notes in your own words
  • Avoid highlighting as that can make you lose focus on other important points
  • Take notes after you have read the page in full to better grasp concepts
  • Make your notes brief and focused
  • Only pay attention to the main concepts and ideas of what you’re reading
  • Scan the chapter before you write down anything

Ask for extra help

If you feel like you need extra help in a particular subject, don’t be shy to ask for help from your tutor, peers, or a writing service. It sometimes happens that certain topics are way out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t hurt to ask someone for help should you require it. There are some colleges and universities that offer private lessons for students or various other tutoring programs.

Hire a private tutor

While some students might be strong in all subjects, naturally there will be some who will struggle in one or two of them which is fine. If you find yourself struggling to understand what your tutor is saying at college, you can hire a private one as long as you have the funds.

Sometimes your private tutor might do a good job explaining some of the things you didn’t understand in class thereby helping you get better grades eventually. You can find so many private tutors online however, make sure they are an expert in the subject you’re studying otherwise it is a massive waste of time.

Do your homework when it’s assigned to you

Homework will always be part of your academic life and for you to get good grades, there are a few things that can be done.

Get rid of distractions

If you want to fully focus on your homework, you need to get rid of everything that may hinder your progress. This means turning off the TV, switching off the radio, and putting your phone away. If you are the type that focuses better when listening to music make sure it is classical music because genres like heavy metal or hip hop can make you lose focus.

Rest when you need to

When you are studying, your brain will be tired and this can make you less focused. Experts say that you should take breaks when you can to recharge your batteries. Get some food, go for a walk, use the rest, and do something just to give your brain some rest before you go again.

You can schedule your breaks if you want so that you don’t leave any unfinished work on the table. If you want to rest properly, you can successfully do that by:

  • Staying clear of the digital world i.e. putting your phone away
  • Not eating junk food
  • Staying well hydrated
  • Getting enough sleep which should be around 6-8 hours a day

Take notes while reading

you should always have your notepad with you while you’re reading so that you can take notes quicker. You can make rough outlines, summaries, and headings, and dot down any ideas. This will make you better prepared for not just assignments, but exams and other class work too.

Highlighting anything of importance helps get back to it when you need to. Are you sure you take notes the right way? Have a look at this infographic and get to know how to make the note-taking process more effective.


Form a study group

Study groups are amazing because they help fill in the knowledge gaps that you might be missing plus you are surrounded by people that will help you stay focused and motivated. Since everyone picks up new things at different rates, if there is something that is giving trouble, there will be a student in the group that will be able to help. To ensure that everyone gets the help that they need, you and your group mates can set up a time you can meet every week, during classroom breaks, or after classes.

Be organized

Make sure your workstation is well organized because this gives you the best possible chance to succeed by ensuring that all your assignments, notes, and workstations are very organized and not messy. At home or in your dorm, pick an area that will help you stay focused and this can be anything from the bed, sofa, or table.

Organize your time with a planner

If you know your assignment or exam due dates, make sure you write them down in your planner. With so many things going on at colleges or universities dates related to sporting activities and various other things need to be dotted down too.

If there is an important event coming up, you can break down your assignments into small parts making them easier to tackle. Be smart and craft the outlines of your assignments in advance to reduce stress.

Pick up a planner, so you don’t lose track of what your next plans are and by finishing your work in advance, you will be able to do the things you want. Some of the best planner apps a student can use include

  • Indeme
  • PurpleTrail
  • Blue Sky
  • Vindora
  • Feteulo

Avoid cramming

When a student is cramming, it brings about unnecessary stress and makes it hard to focus in class. To avoid this, you can create a study schedule and read up on a chapter or two each day weeks before your exams.

Look at all the materials you think will pop up in your exam and review them as you build-up to the big day. If you are taking your tests on a Wednesday, cramming on Tuesday is just lead to failure. Preparing in advance allows you to break up all the study materials into small parts giving you a much better chance to get a good grade.

Don’t leave things till the last minute

When you leave things until the last possible minute, this is called procrastination and this is not a good practice at all. Even if your assignment is due in a few weeks, try and complete it as early as possible to ensure you don’t have a mountain of assignments leading to submission day.

For example, if your tutor gives you an assignment that is due in two weeks, starting it early means you’ll have plenty of time to make corrections where necessary instead of starting 24-48 hours before submission. The same goes for exams, if you start preparing for them in advance, it gives you a chance to polish up on any areas you are weak at rather than waiting till the last minute.

Take some tests

There are so many practice tests that you can take online that will help you prepare for the real one. Pick the one that is better suited to your courses and check the answers later to see how well you’ve done.

If your score is low, it means that there are certain areas you need to improve in and you can always ask people for help. If the score is high, it means you are well on your way to getting a good grade on the real one and should keep up what you’re doing. Exams like ACT, SAT, and IELTS can all be found and taken online as a way to prepare.

Take good care of your body

If you want your body to be in the best possible condition to enjoy college life and get better grades, you need to look after it, and they are a few ways to do that.

Eat well

The human brain needs energy too to perform at its very best. You can give your brain the fuel that it needs by eating nutritious food every single day. Food that is high in things like proteins goes a long way plus dairy products, vegetables, grains, and fruits should not be skipped.

One of the most important meals of the day is breakfast but for some reason, many people seem to skip it. Grab yourself a bowl of cereal every day or yogurt before going to class, and you will notice a difference in your brain functionality over time. Food that is known to increase brain functionality includes

  • Eggs – The yolks found in eggs offer choline which is known to promote brain function like communication between brown cells, improving memory while reducing inflammation at the same time.
  • Sardines – If you want to eat something that will activate your brain’s cerebral cortex, you need sardines. Sardine oil especially will improve your thought, and attention, and minimize the risk of memory decline.
  • Walnuts – Anything that is rich in vitamin E and fatty acids is good for your brain for a variety of reasons. Walnuts reduce cognitive deterioration and massively improve your reasoning.
  • Chocolate – Chocolate is always controversial because it contains cocoa and a small dose of caffeine. These will boost blood flow to your brain and improve learning and memory functionality.
  • Spinach – Vegetables are also good for the brain especially spinach because they contain lutein, vitamins, and beta carotene. These nutrients like walnuts reduce cognitive deterioration.
  • Avocado – Avocados are a great source of vitamin C and E which reduce high blood pressure. Anyone who eats food rich in this nutrient will notice improved focus and reduced memory loss.
  • Blueberries – Blueberries shouldn’t be underestimated because they contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce neurodegenerative diseases and brain aging.

Get some good sleep

Students these days have mobile and smart devices that help pass the time. You might feel tempted to be on them all night watching videos or communicating with family and friends. This behavior can ruin your sleep which is very bad if you want to get good grades. Stick to a sleeping routine and average around 8 hours of sleep every day.

This is the number of hours that is highly recommended by many experts and when the weekend comes around, try to sleep more. You can sleep properly by doing the following

  • Have a dedicated sleeping schedule
  • Eat and drink well because you don’t want to go to bed stuffed or hungry
  • Limit the number of naps you take during the daytime
  • Create a good sleeping environment
  • Exercise well
  • Manage stress

There are also apps out there on both iOS and Andriod that can help you sleep if you are struggling and the ones worth considering and should be on your radar include

  • Relax and sleep well (Android)
  • Digipill (Andriod)
  • Sleep Time (Both iOS and Android)
  • Pillow (iOS)
  • Relax Melodies (Both iOS and Android)
  • Recolor (Both iOS and Android)
  • Sleep Cycle (Both iOS and Android)

Get some much-needed exercise

With students having a very busy life, it can be hard to commit to an exercise routine. Set aside at least 30 minutes a day whether it is before or after classes to go for a jog, walk, or a simple bike ride.

It is small things like this that can make the biggest difference because running and walking are two exercises known to boost your creativity. If you want to get good grades on your essay, going for a walk can give you the inspiration you need as you take in the great outdoors.

Take breaks

Your grades will be affected if you overwork your brain and don’t give it the rest it needs. Whenever you are studying for an exam or doing your assignments, set time aside to give your brain some rest. You can take 15 minutes to half an hour breaks just to let your brain recharge and regain some of its creative juices.

Make full use of the memorization tricks out there

Sometimes you learn something that can be hard to remember and that is where memorization tricks come in. By trying to memorize the 9 planets in the solar system, you can use a trick like “My very elderly mother just sent us nine potatoes”. This is a very effective way of remembering all the 9 planets in order because each letter at the share of each word symbolizes a planet’s name.

Find a way to stay motivated

The willingness or desire to act on something is the true definition of motivation but when studying, you can lose the motivation. There are a few things you can do to breathe new life into your study routine.

Spice up how you study with podcasts and videos

Sometimes it can get boring doing the same learning approach over and over again. If you are tired of the same routine, you might want to freshen things up by using videos and podcasts on the matter. There are so many platforms like Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud where you can find podcasts and videos of the video you are studying.

Spend 30 minutes watching videos or listening to content on your topic and the best thing about the world we live in today is that you don’t have to be on your computer all the time. Everything can be listened to or watched on mobile or smart devices with the click of a button. You can set a limit on yourself and once you have hit it, you can reward yourself.

Throw on some music while you study

Music has been known to be the secret behind some students getting good grades. You can create a playlist of classical music that isn’t too distracting to be playing in the background while you study. You can create a playlist on your phone, Spotify, SoundCloud, iPods, and even on YouTube. Overall the right music will not only help you relax but also sharpen your focus skills.

Be comfortable

You will not be able to study properly and get good grades if you are not comfortable hence why you should always get yourself some comfortable clothes. When you lack the inspiration to study, try to take a shower and throw on some fresh clothes. Make sure that the clothes you pick are not the ones you wear when you are sleeping otherwise you will do less studying to get good grades and more sleeping.

Break down your tasks into small pieces

Another reason why most students don’t study regularly to get good grades is they see it as a massive chore because they have so much material to go through. To solve this problem, you have to break down your study content into small pieces. This makes studying feel less of a chore and more fun. Every time you do a bit of reading each time, you will feel a sense of accomplishment.

Have a good study setup

If you don’t have your study materials where you can see them, you will not feel inspired to study for your exams to get good grades. Whether it is at home or in a dorm, you need to get your study set up right. This means having everything within arm’s reach like your computer, your tablets, papers, pens, notes, articles, books, and more.

Study something you enjoy

There is no point wasting time studying something that you have no interest in because you will not get good grades. Before enrolling in any top college or university, make sure you develop an interest in whatever you intend to study.

This will keep you motivated and make your studies more enjoyable. It also helps if you are studying a course with your friend however, it doesn’t have to be party time all the time. Just enjoy yourself while you are studying as a proper balance is the best way to get good grades.

Have a few motivational posters around

You can place a few posters in your room at home or dorm to keep you motivated at all times. It shouldn’t be just any poster, it has to have a few motivational or positive words of inspiration. You can buy these posters on the internet, or you can make one by yourself using materials found in and around your home or the shops.

Get it done attitude

Instead of having a cant do it attitude, you need to adopt a “can do it or get it done” approach. This mentality will give you the best possible chance to pass your assignments and exams with flying colors.

Benefits of getting high grades

1. Helps you earn a scholarship

When you apply for a scholarship program, the committee will review your grades to see if you are a good fit. The better your grade, the more likely you are to be picked ahead of other students.

2. Future opportunities open up

If you have good grades, the sky is the limit and the possibilities are endless. Some examples of great future opportunities that may come your way include an internship program at a top business, a chance to travel the world, and even land yourself a high-paying job. Good grades can take you places, and you can rub shoulders with some very famous people.

3. Amazing grades make your life better

Students that have earned good great have the rest of their peers as well as their tutors which makes it easy for them to socialize. If your grades are not up to par, you will feel shy and a bit embarrassed to interact with others, and you might not have the respect of your peers and tutors as far as your studies go.

Any student that wants to get good grades needs to mix with high-performing students at their school. Spending as much time as possible with them helps you stay on top of your studies and will encourage you to be better.

4. Increase in confidence

Fear of failure is one thing that holds students back but if you are doing good academically, you will notice an increase in your confidence. This is because you will be able to hold an intellectual conversation with people thanks to your grades.

Final thoughts

Students need to take their grades very seriously because they can be the difference in the future between getting low or high-paying jobs. Companies are always looking for candidates that have good grades because they know they will get someone who will fit in their company with ease and won’t need much training. If you don’t have good grades, you can expect to find it rough when you are applying for jobs in the future. By staying motivated, engaged, and living a healthy life, you should have no problems getting good grades.

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