By Katy Tripses
With the cost of attending college continuing to skyrocket, financial aid in the form of scholarships is becoming more important than ever before. But many scholarships provided by the government, universities, and even private institutions require a minimum GPA to earn assistance as well as keep it throughout the duration of college.
In short: poor grades may cost you more than just your GPA. They can cost you the money needed to attend the school of your choice and earn a college degree. Here is a comparative guide on where your GPA can take you:
- 3.70-4.00 (Top universities, military academies, and honors colleges.)
- 3.50-3.69 (Highly rated colleges and universities.)
- 3.00-3.49 (Most state colleges and universities.)
- 2.80-2.99 (Community colleges, small schools, mediocre schools.)
- Below 2.80 (Trade schools and on-the-job training.)
Where does your GPA fit in, and where would you like it to be? Though improving your GPA may sound like an arduous task, there are several small steps you can take to raise your grades and keep them within an acceptable range. Below are five steps to get started moving your GPA closer to a 4.0.
1. Practice Self-Care
Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat well. Sounds easy enough, right? But perhaps it’s no surprise that many college students struggle to keep up with basic self-care. They stay up into the late hours of the night cramming for an upcoming exam. When schedules get too busy, the first thing to get cut out is a trip to the gym. And a healthy balanced diet looks more like ramen and meal-replacement bars.
But without covering the basics of self-care, there’s almost no hope of doing well in school. In fact, one recent study found students who didn’t maintain a regular sleep schedule had lower grades on average. In fact, some students lacked so much sleep that their bodies behaved as though they were in a different time zone altogether! Pile on lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits and all together you have unhealthy habits can have long-lasting negative effects.
So the first step to maintaining and improving a GPA? Take care of yourself! Find consistency in your sleep schedule, leave time for the gym a few times a week, and eat a balanced diet.
2. Reach Out for Help Early On
When a class or a subject doesn’t come easily or naturally, a common reaction is to avoid it for as long as possible. But avoidance can take us into a downward spiral with grades that’s hard, if not impossible, to recover from before the end of the semester. So when a class is coming up that you know might be challenging for you, it’s best to reach out for help as early on as possible.
This means making a beginning-of-the-semester stop at your school’s tutoring center. You can also try approaching your TA for office hours or find fellow students with a stronger grasp on the topic to act as your study buddies.
Making sure you get the help you need to understand the material as early as possible will help ensure that you secure the highest grade possible. Moreover, it will help make the material more understandable and the semester much less stressful. And who knows, you might even discover that you actually do enjoy a class you thought you wouldn’t!
3. Create a Study Strategy
Syllabus week at school is notoriously known as an easy week, one where students briefly show up for class, quickly get an overview for the semester, and head out early. And while it’s tempting to use this time as a small extension of your break, it’s actually a crucial time in setting yourself up for success.
Use the extra time you have at the start of each semester to create a study strategy for all of your classes. This will put you on the path to achieve the best scores right from the beginning. Start by reading the syllabi for each class; after all, you can’t create a game plan unless you know what’s coming up.
Be sure to mark down all upcoming assignments, projects, and exams on your calendar. This practice will help make sure you’re not missing anything and you can anticipate when you’ll need to start studying. It will also help you understand where you’ll need to spend the majority of your time and when.
Next, take a look at the content you’ll need to understand and create a plan for understanding it. This includes chapters you’ll need to read and projects you’ll need to complete. Look out for anything that’s confusing or surprising. If something doesn’t make sense, ask! Creating a strategy for the semester from the get-go will set you up for success.
4. Find your Ideal Study Environment
Good grades start with great study habits. Though it may be tempting to study from the comfort and warmth of your bed, this isn’t very likely to lead to a successful progress. Instead, it’s important to take some time and understand what type of environment you work best in. This will help make sure that you’re not only studying hard but studying smart and using your valuable time as efficiently as possible.
Does silence seem deafening to you when you’re trying to focus? Then studying in a quiet room by yourself where you’ll easily get distracted probably isn’t the right fit for you. Alternatively, if even the slightest noise throws you off, maybe avoid the busy coffee shops and give your school’s library a try instead.
Also, pay attention to who you study the best with. Though it may be tempting to study with friends, you may get more done alone. Finally, figure out the time of day where your brain is most “on.” For some people it’s early in the morning, and for others it’s late at night, or it might be any time in between.
5. Calculate Your GPA and Track Progress Over Time
Last but not least, in order to improve your grades, it’s crucial to have a true understanding of where you’re starting from and how you’re progressing over time. This is an imperative step in understanding whether or not the actions you’re taking are actually helping or if you need to try something else.
GPA Calculator is a web interface that makes understanding and calculating grade point averages fast and simple. Its suite of tools offers calculators for both the high school and college level. Additionally, students can get even more information about their academic standing by using the Cumulative GPA Calculator, Weighted GPA Calculator, and GPA Scale Calculator with common GPA conversions.
Use this tool to check in on your progress every few weeks to ensure you’re maintaining a grade range that will help secure your scholarships and financial aid. The site also provides helpful guides that advise students looking to raise their GPA and the importance of calculating grades. Students can access all of this for no cost at gpacalculator.io.