By Ben Spicer–

Over the summer, I decided to look into graduate school. A requirement for being accepted into graduate school is having a minimum GPA of 3.0. At the start of the fall semester, my GPA stood right at 2.9. I knew it was time to buckle down if I wanted any chance of making it into graduate school.

There were several different methods I used in my classes to help make sure I maintained focus and was able to succeed. Following these methods helped me to drastically improve my attention span as well as my study habits. Overall, the methods helped me make sure I had a good semester in terms of grades.

Below are several different methods I began using this past semester. I hope that if you choose to use these methods, they will be as successful for you as they were for me.

Plan ahead. One of the biggest problems I have had throughout my collegiate career is procrastination. I always seem to put things off until the very last possible minute, and then scramble to get them done. This semester I chose to start something I like to call “reverse procrastination,” which is exactly what it sounds.

With reverse procrastination, I try and get my assignments done as quickly as possible so I can be lazy in the future. This means that I was always looking ahead, finishing assignments as quickly as I could. In doing this, I was able to not worry as much about deadlines, and instead of rushing to finish assignments I could sit back and perfect them.

Take traditional notes. College students would much rather prefer to type out their notes in class. Trust me, I’m no different. But the simple fact is, it is very unproductive. I always found myself doing other things and getting distracted on my laptop rather than paying attention to the lecture, which hurt my ability to retain valuable information.

By writing your notes down, you are more likely to remember the subject matter. A research study conducted by Dr. Pam Mueller and Dr. Daniel Oppenheimer of the Association for Psychological Science confirms this notion, saying “The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing.”

Sit front and center. Another change I made to my classroom habits this past semester was choosing to sit up front in every one of my classes. I made this change in hopes of improving my attention span. It seemed much easier for me to daydream and become distracted when I was sitting towards the back of the classroom.

I noticed that my listening and memory of lectures drastically improved this past semester, which obviously helped me on exams.

Network yourself.  Professors have always encouraged me to make friends in class and use that to my advantage. In the past, I ignored this advice. But this past semester, I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. So, I set out to make friends in my classes in hopes that this would benefit me in improving my grades.

I was surprised to report that it did. Friends from various classes helped me in terms of studying, reminding me of assignments and helping to discuss class lectures. It is truly helpful to get someone else’s perspective on what you are studying, and was a crucial part of my success this past semester.

Limit distractions. This seems like an easy one given the previous few tips, but this is the biggest strategy of all that I used. The best way to study and take in a lecture is to avoid as many distractions as possible. One of the most important methods I used was turning off my cell phone whenever I studied. This helped me to avoid doing unnecessary things that would end up distracting me from my original goal.

It is also helpful to use this tip in the classroom. Try and avoid using your cell phone unless absolutely necessary, as it will just become a big distraction. You can also try and avoid having conversations or doing things that will keep you from paying attention to the professor.