Looking to make kickass grades while knocking this thing called parenthood out of the park? Here are five ways you can do precisely that.
If you want bangin' good grades in college while juggling the demands of going to work and raising a young child, it is ABSOLUTELY possible.
I know for sure. I did it!
After taking five years off from college due to my son's arrival and uncertainty about whether or not I wanted to be bothered with college anymore, I decided there was no better option for me than returning to school.
And failure was NOT an option.
Mediocrity was NOT an option.
Due to the amount of time it took for me to ultimately complete my degree, I wanted to impress upon a future employer that despite the time-lapse in my education, I went back and finished and did so with better grades than I EVER had before.
I went back and earned a 4.0 GPA for every semester except one (I made a 3.7 that semester). I was taking Physics II and Physical Chemistry II when I got the 3.7, which was CRAZY hard stuff for me.
You can do the same by implementing these five practices in your daily college regimen.
1. Go to School PART Time
As a parent AND student responsible for raising a child and working, it is imperative NOT to bite off more than you can chew.
Taking on a part-time school schedule will give you the time you need to juggle your responsibilities efficiently.
If you want to devote quality time and attention to reading course materials, studying, and completing assignments so that you can make stellar grades, then you need to pursue school part-time.
Doing so will allow you to maximize competency in your subject matter.
Trust me; it will be far easier to prepare for tests and quizzes and meet deadlines while working and parenting if you only have to concentrate on 2 or 3 classes (at the most) at a time.
2. Keep Focused
Remember, the end is near!
Stay focused on school by keeping your eye on the prize. Just remind yourself that the end is just over the horizon (it truly is).
Remind yourself how amazing it will feel to be qualified for a position where you’ll be treated with respect, appreciation, and advancement opportunities. Plus, you’ll be more financially sound in your ability to provide for your child.
Time is going by fast. It may not seem like it at the moment, especially when you feel an urgency to get something done quickly, but the time will come to pass before you know it.
Take it one day at a time
Focus on what needs to be done daily and nothing more.
Go to class and take your notes. Then make sure to work on something daily.
I would give myself no more than one day per week (at most) to relax and not work on subject matter. Other than that, I would work on something each day.
For instance, let's say I was learning a new chapter, and the professor provided PowerPoint slides with notes.
On that day, after class, I would read ¼ or ½ of the slides. While reading, I would highlight the most important and relevant points. I would do the same the following day.
The day after that, I would read ¼ or so of the chapter. I'd write my own notes in a notebook on the most important points of what I was reading. I continued this process until I had reviewed all the slides and read the entire chapter.
Working on something every day kept me focused and abreast of my materials. Doing so made me far better prepared come test time. And test time felt far less overwhelming because I wasn’t waiting till the last minute to try to cram everything.
I steadily became more and more familiar with material over time, which made study sessions before tests a breeze. I just had to refer back to my notes and the essential details I highlighted in the professor’s notes.
3. Keep Track of Deadlines
Get an academic wall calendar
Get yourself a decent size academic wall calendar and hang it on your wall.
I recommend hanging it somewhere close to your bed, where you’ll always catch sight of it.
I liked the 15” x 11.5” dimensions because it was a perfect size for jotting notes without jamming the words into a too small space.
Fill in your academic wall calendar
First, search your school’s website for their academic calendar for the semester. Then, fill in your academic wall calendar with all the dates they have listed.
Include holidays, last days to withdraw from classes without being charged a fee, midterms, finals, first day of class, last day of class, etc.
Then, when you receive your syllabi from your classes, go back through your academic wall calendar for that semester. Fill in all the dates that your professor has marked, such as “on this date, we start this chapter,” quiz on that day, test on that day, presentation on that day.
Also, the semester is 16 weeks long, so start a countdown on your calendar. On the Sunday of your first full week, write “16 weeks.” Then, on the next Sunday, write “15 weeks.” Do that until you get down to “1 week” for your final week of the semester.
Seeing this countdown as the weeks go by will be a constant reminder to stay on track because you don’t have as much time to screw around as you think.
Having your calendar filled with important dates for assignments in conjunction with the reminder of how many weeks you have to work with will help to keep you on top of assignments at all times.
4. Manage Time (so you don’t fall behind)
Make use of your spare time
Manage your time by taking advantage of any spare time you have as much as possible.
Use that time to take notes on your most recent chapter from class, read over your highlighted notes, do research for a paper, etc. Do this in an order that makes the most sense based on the order of upcoming assignments that you notated on your academic wall calendar.
When I was in college, I had to ride two buses to school and back. One ran from my hometown to the downtown area of the next major city from here. I then had to catch another bus to the outskirts of the city to get to my school from downtown. This round trip took 6 hours. (Literally, 2 hours from my town to the city, then 1 hour from the city to my school).
I would study immensely on my super long 6-hour bus ride to and from school. In the mornings, I would also study on my bus ride to work, during lunch breaks at work and at school, and on my days as off as much as I could.
Sometimes I would literally study ALL day (off and on as motherhood would allow me). I would read, take notes, and research anything I didn’t understand.
Taking advantage of these study times worked out well for me. By the time I got home from school or work, I usually had completed my studies for the day. I could then just focus on being a mom for the rest of the day.
Tip - If you don’t take a bus, it might be useful to take one just for the sake of having idle time you could put to good use studying 🙂
Add notations to your academic wall calendar
Jot notes about how you’ll tackle the day. For example, I wrote the following notes on my calendar while I was in college:
- Work on PowerPoint
- then lab report and spectroscopy
- print formal lab report for Dr. Delgado
5. Get Help
YouTube is your friend...seriously!
If you feel lost and confused about any of the subject matter you are learning, do not hesitate to search the internet for clarity - more specifically, YOUTUBE.
When I went back to college for chemistry after taking five years off, I felt like I had forgotten so much. I thought for sure I was going to be completely screwed.
I nearly cried when I started working on my first packet of Physical Chemistry assignments.
It was supposed to be a refresher packet, but I was unsure how to solve the problems.
I got the idea to search YouTube, so I did. Let me tell you; I found sooo many helpful tutorials. Each one helped me figure out how to solve the problems correctly and better understand the material.
Sometimes I had to scour through to find what I was looking for, but the results were remarkable and totally worth it.
There’s also the option to ask your professor questions during office hours or call or email them. Their office hours and contact details are usually listed in the syllabus they provide.
Networking with fellow students can be helpful as well. I gravitated to students who appeared to be taking our class lessons relatively seriously.
At the beginning of my return to school, I would sometimes do study sessions over the phone with a classmate.
General internet searches can be helpful too. I wrote a highly praised statistical report by searching Google images for a sample report. I mirrored the report with my own words and information, and it was a success.
But honestly, my best weapon was YouTube. Eventually, that’s where most of my help came from, with an occasional question directed at my professors.
Implementing these five practices in your daily life as a college student is guaranteed to lead you on the path to achieving kickass grades again and again. They worked wonders for me, and I’m sure they will work for you too. Best of luck in your endeavors!