This isn’t a joke and I can help if you seriously want to get straight A’s. But here’s the deal. If you decide not to follow my advice, and you don’t get straight A’s you will not whine or complain. You will admit to yourself and others that you chose the grades you got. Deal?

Most people think that the smarter people get the better grades. Not true. The disciplined people get the better grades. They are smarter planners and better at executing a plan persistently and patiently.

Sure you will find people who appear to be exceptions to what I am describing. They will get no sleep, party in excess and pull down good grades. What you may not know is that eventually they will implode. You cannot be distracted by their behavior or apparent success. This has nothing to do with you.

Also you cannot get sucked into the plight of the academically needy. You did not come to college to babysit. If you are going to help others, become a tutor, set your hours and get paid for it. If you don’t get straight A’s because you denied your own studies to help others, understand this was your decision and you cannot blame those you helped after the fact. Are we clear?

1. To get straight A’s you must start work on the first day of school. If you slack even in the first week you can easily find yourself in catch up mode and your chances of Straight A’s are now uncertain.

If you have to set up your dorm room or do any other “set up” activities after day one of the semester, you are not a serious student.

2. Your bed time should be no later than 11:00 pm and 10:00 pm is better. By now you should know how much sleep you need to maintain mental clarity (this is usually 7 or 8 hours a night). Socializing and staying up late with the gang will result in poorer academic performance and you might as well save the money and get a job because you aren’t a serious student. Not only do you have to be able to walk away from a party, you have to avoid them during the semester on week nights and most weekends.

3. Schedule in daily excercise of 30 minutes. (Exception to this are athletes on scholarship, but they have to be disciplined not to linger around the gym when workouts are over).

4. Schedule in meals. 30 minutes for breakfast, 30 minutes for lunch and 1 hour for dinner. (I have just given you 2 hours a day to eat and socialize. Your welcome.)

5. If you are a person of faith, and I hope that you are, schedule 30 minutes a day for prayer and other activities to help you grow in this area. Remember that ultimately your education is just one aspect of your overall growth as a human being.

6. Take one day off a week. That’s right, one day a week you will spend enjoying other people, going to church and relaxing. Bed time stays the same, however.

7. You will study every weekend for at least six hours. Around this studying take care of laundry and other chores.

Are you still with me?

Now here’s the golden nugget. This is what you have to do for the rest of your time during a semester, with the exception of time spent working in a part time job.

9. For every lecture hour you will, as soon as possible, rewrite your notes. In other words you will immediately review that particular lecture writing out clearly every aspect discussed. What you are doing is looking for things you do not understand.

10. Everything you discover that you do not understand requires you to contact either the professor or a class tutor for an explanation. This cannot be put off more than 24 hours during the week and if the lecture was on a Friday, you need this meeting no later than the following Monday.

11. Once you have rewritten your notes you begin or continue work on any pending assignments.

The common error in college is that people think they only have to go to class a few hours a day and then do whatever they feel like doing the rest of the time. Just before midterms or finals week they cram using notes they have not looked at often for weeks, if not months. In the few hours just before the test they discover they don’t really understand what the professor said way back when, but now it’s too late.

Remember, the things you learn doing project assignments do not usually show up on tests the way content from lectures and reading assignments will. So don’t jump into projects before you take care of the daily lecture material. Am I making sense to you? By now, even before school starts, I hope you are beginning to see that you don’t really have that much time to get done what needs to be done. This is why your first week is as critical as your last week in a semester.

12. The way you will study for tests will be to review your notes and get a good night’s sleep.

Added bonus: Usually when you start working the way I have described you will find that other interested good students will want to study with you. Cooperation of this nature is very helpful and you will discover that the friends you begin to make share your academic seriousness. In addition you will be known by the professors. It is the very rare student who comes back a few hours after a lecture and knocks on a someone’s door to ask a question. Trust me, these profs will do everything they can to help you because you are showing interest in what they are interested in.

If you follow my advice completely then I am confident you have done everything within your ability to secure A’s and the odds are greatly in your favor. So now that you know what it will take, are you willing to commit?

I hear a question from the back.

Q. What about extracurricular activities?

A. How badly do you want straight A’s? If not that badly, then you will give time you would have used to study to do something else. So how important is this something else if it will cost you good grades? It’s your call.


I first published this to one of my tumblr accounts on August 5, 2012.