How to Get a Good GPA in College?

blackid's picture
Rank: Senior Monkey | 70

Hey everyone, I just finished my first semester with a 3.4. I'm pretty disappointed (Though, not really, since my only B was in a freaking drawing class that I thought would be an easy A)

I'll admit I didn't really try my best, but I'm wanting to take note of this semester and dominate from here going forward.

Anyways, could all of you share your tips? I've probably already heard them or read them before, but it's nice to hear them again from real people.

Tips on How to maintain a high GPA at University?

GPA is critical when it comes to wall street recruitment. Those looking to apply to banks and top hedge funds will be expected to have a GPA that is 3.6 or preferably higher.

User @Husky32 shared a detailed explanation of how to achieve a high GPA:

Husky32:

It's important that you take legitimate classes that are interesting/useful like accounting, math, finance as opposed to bs classes like anthropology/sociology/art (srs). If you're interested in the material and really enjoy reading and solving problems in the subject it will be much easier to do well.

Business/Econ is very meritocratic, so you have to know the material! For me, econ/finance classes are a cakewalk as it provides the opportunity to learn more about the field that I am interested in pursuing.

It's key to not get behind in any courses you take. Make sure to read the chapter an hour before the class starts in order to get a good foundation and then go to lecture with a goal to only take down relevant information that you conjecture will be on examinations.

If you're struggling with math/science then go to your university peer tutoring center at least a week before the exam (do problems in your dorm, check the answers in the back of the book, circle the problems you get wrong and get feedback on why you got them wrong).

I would try to study at least 20 hours per week outside of the classroom and maybe 30 hours during test weeks. You only need a 3.7 to have a "top" gpa and in terms of recruiting 3.7=3.9 which should allow you to join a frat or clubs on campus.

One user shared that a key piece of advice for maintaining a high GPA.

wallstreetjungle - Risk Management Analyst:

Time management is huge, especially if you're interning/working part-time as well as having some leadership roles for your extracurriculars.

You can check out more advice about getting a high GPA in college.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sczZOgLWmms

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Comments (99)

Jan 2, 2013

I have close to a 4.0 gpa. It's important that you take legitimate classes that are interesting/useful like accounting, math, finance as opposed to bs classes like anthropology/sociology/art (srs). If you're interested in the material, and interact with it every day and really enjoy reading and solving problems in the subject, then it will be much easier to do well than if you have to prepare for subjects you have no interest in. Obviously there are gen eds that suck, but avoid boring classes as much as possible. Especially avoid classes like english/history where the grading can be extremely subjective with profs only giving out Bs unless you have a friend that suggests that a particular class or section of a class is a "joke" or whatever where everyone gets As. Business/Econ is very meritocratic, so you have to know the material! For me, econ/finance classes are a cakewalk as it provides the opportunity to learn more about the field that I am interested in pursuing for a career and it doesn't feel like school as much as career prep.

It's key to not get behind in any courses you take. Make sure to read the chapter an hour before the class starts in order to get a good foundation and then go to lecture with a goal to only take down relevant information that you conjecture will be on examinations (most intro classes follow the textbook very closely, and the prof usually throws in a couple of questions based on in class tangents). If you're struggling with math/science then go to your university peer tutoring center at least a week before the exam (do problems in your dorm, check the answers in the back of the book, circle the problems you get wrong and get feedback on why you got them wrong). Overall, it isn't as hard to do well academically in college as it was in high school where students are forced to learn boring liberal arts subjects. I would try to study at least 20 hours per week outside of the classroom and maybe 30hours during test weeks. You only need a 3.7 to have a "top" gpa and in terms of recruiting 3.7=3.9 which should allow you to join a frat or clubs on campus.

    • 1
Jan 2, 2013
Husky32:

Especially avoid classes like english/history where the grading can be extremely subjective with profs only giving out Bs unless you have a friend that suggests that a particular class or section of a class is a "joke" or whatever where everyone gets As. Business/Econ is very meritocratic, so you have to know the material! For me, econ/finance classes are a cakewalk as it provides the opportunity to learn more about the field that I am interested in pursuing for a career and it doesn't feel like school as much as career prep.

I 100% echo this. Take courses where you know the reward is going to be reflective of the effort you put in. What people at my school call "bird" courses tend to be ones where you can get a B/B+ with virtually no effort, but getting the A+ requires a disproportionate amount of time. I've preferred finance/math/econ courses because even though I know I'll have to work harder in them, the likelihood of getting an A is very high if I understand everything in the course and don't under-perform on exams.

Also if there's group work, don't free-ride. Be the one that does the work during the semester. It'll lead to you going into exam period already knowing all the concepts and your time will be spent actually reviewing, as opposed to learning concepts afresh. You'll likely spend less time studying and be less stressed during exam time, yet come out with better results.

Jan 3, 2013
Husky32:

I have close to a 4.0 gpa. It's important that you take legitimate classes that are interesting/useful like accounting, math, finance as opposed to bs classes like anthropology/sociology/art (srs). If you're interested in the material, and interact with it every day and really enjoy reading and solving problems in the subject, then it will be much easier to do well than if you have to prepare for subjects you have no interest in. Obviously there are gen eds that suck, but avoid boring classes as much as possible. Especially avoid classes like english/history where the grading can be extremely subjective with profs only giving out Bs unless you have a friend that suggests that a particular class or section of a class is a "joke" or whatever where everyone gets As. Business/Econ is very meritocratic, so you have to know the material! For me, econ/finance classes are a cakewalk as it provides the opportunity to learn more about the field that I am interested in pursuing for a career and it doesn't feel like school as much as career prep.

I agree with your first point - focus on classes that are interesting & engaging. However, I disagree with the notion that history, art, english and other humanities courses should be avoided. For the same reason that you gave, if someone enjoyed english in high school, then he should get at a comp lit or creative writing class precisely because he will find it interesting & engaging, etc. If not, then by all means skip 'em, like you did.

That said, if you are into other topics as well, please get at them. In interviews, the finance robots blur together pretty quickly. Other benefits of taking diverse classes (e.g., intellectual growth, etc) notwithstanding, they will help you stand out in good ways, which is important.

Jan 3, 2013
Sandhurst:

That said, if you are into other topics as well, please get at them. In interviews, the finance robots blur together pretty quickly. Other benefits of taking diverse classes (e.g., intellectual growth, etc) notwithstanding, they will help you stand out in good ways, which is important.

Happy to see someone else on my side...

Jan 3, 2013
Husky32:

I have close to a 4.0 gpa. It's important that you take legitimate classes that are interesting/useful like accounting, math, finance as opposed to bs classes like anthropology/sociology/art (srs). If you're interested in the material, and interact with it every day and really enjoy reading and solving problems in the subject, then it will be much easier to do well than if you have to prepare for subjects you have no interest in. Obviously there are gen eds that suck, but avoid boring classes as much as possible. Especially avoid classes like english/history where the grading can be extremely subjective with profs only giving out Bs unless you have a friend that suggests that a particular class or section of a class is a "joke" or whatever where everyone gets As. Business/Econ is very meritocratic, so you have to know the material! For me, econ/finance classes are a cakewalk as it provides the opportunity to learn more about the field that I am interested in pursuing for a career and it doesn't feel like school as much as career prep.

It's key to not get behind in any courses you take. Make sure to read the chapter an hour before the class starts in order to get a good foundation and then go to lecture with a goal to only take down relevant information that you conjecture will be on examinations (most intro classes follow the textbook very closely, and the prof usually throws in a couple of questions based on in class tangents). If you're struggling with math/science then go to your university peer tutoring center at least a week before the exam (do problems in your dorm, check the answers in the back of the book, circle the problems you get wrong and get feedback on why you got them wrong). Overall, it isn't as hard to do well academically in college as it was in high school where students are forced to learn boring liberal arts subjects. I would try to study at least 20 hours per week outside of the classroom and maybe 30hours during test weeks. You only need a 3.7 to have a "top" gpa and in terms of recruiting 3.7=3.9 which should allow you to join a frat or clubs on campus.

This. Time management is huge, especially if you're interning/working part-time as well as having some leadership roles for your extracurriculars.

Jan 2, 2013

It's easy to figure out what you have to do in order to get a 3.8 or higher. Following through is a completely different story.

Competition is a sin.

-John D. Rockefeller

Jan 2, 2013

Dunno if this is just anyone, but I don't agree with the 'take joke classes to get 3.9 GPA' crowd.

I'm terrible at rote memorization classes like introduction to sociology/physics for nonmajor or something.
I excel at strong quantitative classes or classes where you understand and apply concepts.

So I guess play to your strengths?

Jan 3, 2013
kidflash:

Dunno if this is just anyone, but I don't agree with the 'take joke classes to get 3.9 GPA' crowd.

I'm terrible at rote memorization classes like introduction to sociology/physics for nonmajor or something.
I excel at strong quantitative classes or classes where you understand and apply concepts.

So I guess play to your strengths?

Depends on the person. Some people are amazing at memorizing stuff from lectures without taking notes. I, on the other hand, have to sit down and grind it into my brain.

Knowing what classes and professors are tough helps a lot. Hopefully that knowledge will motivate you to get your shit straight.

Studying with a friend also helps (depending on what your study habits are). Talking about random stuff can keep you awake and thinking, even if it's not relevant to the material. Just be aware of not wasting too much time.

Jan 3, 2013

Double

Jan 2, 2013

Depends on strengths. If you hate doing math science stuff, go take subjective classes like literature, writing etc.

Jan 2, 2013

I had a near 4.0 GPA majoring in molecular biology in college. I agree with poster above that joke classes are not the way to go if you want a 3.9+. The material may be easier in certain majors, but if you want to really excel you gotta like what you are doing.

Jan 2, 2013

Like others have said, make sure you take classes that interest you, stay on top of your work, and don't overload yourself. This last part led to my GPA dropping slightly.

Jan 2, 2013

Haha, I got a 3.5 my first semester of college. I partied way to much and didn't take the "easy" classes serious enough. After a few more semesters, I'm at a cumulative 3.9.

I definitely want to echo what the guys above me are saying about taking classes you are interested in, because that's the only way I can explain why I got a fucking B+ in Art History, but A's in advanced math and accounting classes.

Please don't take what these guys are saying the wrong way and take all difficult classes to impress people either, then come back and yell at us for getting a C. It's your first semester at school; Relax, and your grades will improve.

Jan 2, 2013

take classes you are interested in and take classes with really easy professors.

Best Response
Jan 2, 2013

I have a 4.0 and don't think I'm a genius by any means, but maybe I can help.

What I found useful is time management; just allow time for studying everyday. For instance, M/W I had class until 12:30. After I got to my place,after I ate I went to the gym at 1, got back about 2:30, and studied until it was time to eat dinner, 2-3 hours. (This actually worked perfectly for me because T/TH I had later classes, so after I ate I could go out and have fun/clubs/EC's ect.) Just pointing that out to show that you can maintain a 4.0 and still have time for friends/fun.

Just look at the way your classes are setup, and look for a block of time where you have 3-4 hours of 'free' time and dedicate yourself to studying the full time.

And of course, the obvious, take easier classes.

    • 3
Jan 2, 2013

I found that taking more difficult classes helped me do better. Almost every semester, I'd end up with As in my hard courses, and B+s or A-s in the easier ones. Most professors in notorious fluff majors are aware of the stigma, and are very stingy about handing out As (except for Communications...they don't seem to care that the median Comm GPA is a 3.9, at least at my school).

I would also recommend aiming for A-s rather than As in the classes you don't enjoy. No resume screener or grad school admissions committee will care if you have a 3.7 vs a 3.8, and that way you don't need to stress about an A- hurting your GPA.

Jan 2, 2013

Depends on your school and your classes. My classes are heavy group work, so if you get stuck with a shit group, you get screwed hard. Classes are curved to a B/B+.

Jan 2, 2013

ratemyprofessor.com probably helps

Jan 2, 2013

I'm guessing most of these guys don't work and "mommy and daddy" pays for all their crap and I'm not referring to their tuition.

I worked ~30 hours during college while interning unpaid as an equity research intern for ~10 hours and ended up with around a 3.7 while majoring in math, econ and physics.

The best way to do it is basically eschew having a social life unfortunately but use your free time to develop necessary skills. Unless you get stuck with d-bag interviewers they will respect that. I had to work to pay for basic expenses including food, transportation, rent and my phone.

Honestly, unless you go to a sh* t easy school and have a few things go your way and basic needs taken care of, a 4.0 isn't going to happen.

Jan 2, 2013
prudentinvestor:

I'm guessing most of these guys don't work and "mommy and daddy" pays for all their crap and I'm not referring to their tuition.

I worked ~30 hours during college while interning unpaid as an equity research intern for ~10 hours and ended up with around a 3.7 while majoring in math, econ and physics.

The best way to do it is basically eschew having a social life unfortunately but use your free time to develop necessary skills. Unless you get stuck with d-bag interviewers they will respect that. I had to work to pay for basic expenses including food, transportation, rent and my phone.

Honestly, unless you go to a sh* t easy school and have a few things go your way and basic needs taken care of, a 4.0 isn't going to happen.

God you sound annoying.

Array

    • 1
Jan 2, 2013
prudentinvestor:

I'm guessing most of these guys don't work and "mommy and daddy" pays for all their crap and I'm not referring to their tuition.

I worked ~30 hours during college while interning unpaid as an equity research intern for ~10 hours and ended up with around a 3.7 while majoring in math, econ and physics.

The best way to do it is basically eschew having a social life unfortunately but use your free time to develop necessary skills. Unless you get stuck with d-bag interviewers they will respect that. I had to work to pay for basic expenses including food, transportation, rent and my phone.

Honestly, unless you go to a sh* t easy school and have a few things go your way and basic needs taken care of, a 4.0 isn't going to happen.

You should write a book, man.

    • 1
Jan 4, 2013
prudentinvestor:

I'm guessing most of these guys don't work and "mommy and daddy" pays for all their crap and I'm not referring to their tuition.

I worked ~30 hours during college while interning unpaid as an equity research intern for ~10 hours and ended up with around a 3.7 while majoring in math, econ and physics.

The best way to do it is basically eschew having a social life unfortunately but use your free time to develop necessary skills. Unless you get stuck with d-bag interviewers they will respect that. I had to work to pay for basic expenses including food, transportation, rent and my phone.

Honestly, unless you go to a sh* t easy school and have a few things go your way and basic needs taken care of, a 4.0 isn't going to happen.

Bullshit. It's people like you that make it impossible for those who want it. I have a 4.0 in engineering working 20-25 hrs/wk part-time and running two clubs. The key is to want it and prioritize school-work over sleep/food/friends/gf when something is due.

This thread really pisses me off... it's not about averages, taking easy classes, finding good professors, or getting lucky in group-work. It's about you and how hard you work, and having the attitude that a B is unacceptable. There's no need to make excuses just do your best (and I mean the absolute best you can possibly do without dying) and there is no reason you can't get a 4.0.

    • 1
Jan 2, 2013

1. Course section (rate my professor)
2. Don't constantly dick around on facebook
3. Get into a routine

Seriously, facebook is huge. Everyone at my school wastes so much time on it. My grades shot up after I made a conscious effort to limit it.

Jan 2, 2013

In addition to the "rate my professor" comments above, check out myedu. They have the course schedule for my school on there and it also shows the average GPA and reviews of all professors. It is helpful for finding the few professors to avoid.

Jan 2, 2013

Take easy but objective courses. Cruise. Enjoy college.

Jan 2, 2013

ratemyprofessor FTW. I'm not taking "Latinos in Contemporary Media" because I'm a fan of George Lopez.

Jan 2, 2013

I maintained a solid 2.8. I took the classes I was interested in, read the material, but if I didn't feel like going to class or studying for an exam, fuck it, I didn't do it. It's actually incredible that I was able to get a B- average -- nothing to brag about, obviously -- by doing so *little* work. I did buckle down in two of my semesters (academic probation will do that) and pulled a 3.7 in those, but even still, I did very little work.

It's really just about being organized. You don't need to study 40 hours a week. Just spend 30 minutes a day reviewing each of your 4 or 5 classes. Seriously.

Jan 2, 2013

.

Jan 3, 2013
mrb87:

It's really just about being organized. You don't need to study 40 hours a week. Just spend 30 minutes a day reviewing each of your 4 or 5 classes. Seriously.

Couldn't agree more. It's all about time management. You seriously have so much time on your hands. Make the most of your time while the sun is up. Once I started going to the library between classes instead of sitting around and watching TV during the day I found that I almost always had things taken care of in time to go out at night.

To those saying take interesting classes, were you not required to take a bunch of non-major classes to graduate? Classes like literature, sciences, fine arts, etc? I wish I could take finance, econ, government classes all day but all undergrads here have to take a ton of non-major classes to graduate. I would have close to a 4.0 if it weren't for a couple stupid classes like astronomy and art history with professors who took themselves way too seriously. I personally think it is absurd that as a business major I have to take a "visual and performing arts" class while all the non-business majors don't even have to take introductory economics. I guess its nobody's fault but my own but I just had no interest in the classes and consequently didn't do that well.

Jan 3, 2013
dab3429:
mrb87:

It's really just about being organized. You don't need to study 40 hours a week. Just spend 30 minutes a day reviewing each of your 4 or 5 classes. Seriously.

Couldn't agree more. It's all about time management. You seriously have so much time on your hands. Make the most of your time while the sun is up. Once I started going to the library between classes instead of sitting around and watching TV during the day I found that I almost always had things taken care of in time to go out at night.

To those saying take interesting classes, were you not required to take a bunch of non-major classes to graduate? Classes like literature, sciences, fine arts, etc? I wish I could take finance, econ, government classes all day but all undergrads here have to take a ton of non-major classes to graduate. I would have close to a 4.0 if it weren't for a couple stupid classes like astronomy and art history with professors who took themselves way too seriously. I personally think it is absurd that as a business major I have to take a "visual and performing arts" class while all the non-business majors don't even have to take introductory economics. I guess its nobody's fault but my own but I just had no interest in the classes and consequently didn't do that well.

Eh, I'm gonna have to disagree with you. Literature, science, art history, etc...are all way more interesting than finance courses. I actually think such a narrow worldview reflects very poorly on someone who finds finance *so* interesting they don't have anything else to talk about...Especially an undergrad.

Jan 3, 2013

If you want to ensure a 3.8+ GPA, probably best to stay the hell away from any real engineering classes, hahaha. Fucking brutal.

As others have said, if you want a high GPA, try to take as many classes as you can that you're interested in and/or good at, regardless of their perceived difficulty or what an outsider might think. For example, when I was in school I remember taking this class on Social Psychology that I found so interesting I went way above and beyond what was needed to just get a decent grade, and wound up with a 104 average. Granted it wasn't a tough class, but you see my point.

Jan 3, 2013
Jan 3, 2013

First post here, maybe I can somehow help. I'll try not to repeat what others said regarding taking classes you should enjoy, etc.

I go to a college that's renowned for GPA deflation. I'm not sure to what extent that's actually true, but let me say that at the end of my first year majoring in STEM, I knew four people including myself with 3.9+, with the vast majority of my friends in any major having 3.2-3.4. I'm not bringing that up to brag or get PM's from those ladies who get wet from a guy with a high GPA ... although if you're interested hit me up ;)

I bring that up for a few points:
1. If you're at one of these tough schools, get some perspective and realize that others might be doing just as "poorly" as you ... AKA you're doing just fine. Of course it's never good to settle for mediocrity. Just don't beat yourself up too much if this is the case.

2. This one applies to all colleges: the first year of college -- ESPECIALLY the first term -- can be a tougher period of adjustment for some than for others. If you came from a background where everyone held your hand through college admissions and placement tests, lived with your family at home, etc., chances are you will be a bit excited when you are faced with a (hopefully) vibrant Greek Life, tons of hotties, and living by yourself or with a roommate. You won't buckle down the same way you will in high school. Others, such as myself, just naturally shifted in to this environment. It depends on maturity and past experience.
Note: Your first year won't be your hardest year. It'll just be your crappiest one GPA wise, hopefully.

3. 3.9+ in STEM at grade deflated school means that I probably know a bit about getting a strong GPA. That or I was just really lucky ;)

Now, some others gave some very solid advice regarding taking classes that you like. I would follow this up by suggesting you take it at the appropriate level. To put it frankly, it's your choice whether or not you want to pussy out to a lower level than recommended. As others have said, if you're hardcore banking/consulting/finance, then unless you're majoring in finance or something, college really should be seen less as a technical education and more so as a right of passage and personal growth opportunities. If this is the case, don't kill yourself because GPA does factor in to the job process. If you're also not huge into learning for its own sake, please, do yourself a favor (and me, your possible competitor, a disservice) by considering taking a simpler level.

If you aren't doing it for these reasons though, strongly consider taking your recommended level of courses. It has been my experience when taking classes below recommended for me that I felt groggier, inattentive ... completely bored. This term, I dropped down a major math course this year to the non-Honors equivalent, and honestly I think I did worse than I would have at a higher level because I did not take it as seriously as I should have. This is also an effect you should be aware of in non-major, non-interesting classes. That's probably why you got your B in your Drawing class. There's actually a good discussion on this somewhere on WSO, but I can't link ...

Secondly, strategically pick your study group. This group will decide your grade in that course more so than the homework assignments or even the midterms/final. This is because you CHOSE to surround yourself with these people ... or you were too much of a chump to tell them no, which reflects poorly anyway. I'd like to echo what Acheron said: do the work. However, I would argue you should NOT be the one who does THE MOST. You know who I'm talking about. Get somebody in the group who is WAYYYYY more obsessed with grades etc. than you are. This person won't be making sacrifices for you, so don't feel bad. He (in my cases, always she) already has the top grade in the bag, and would do everything even without your study group. The group just offers an ability for this person to check answers and get deeper knowledge through explaining confusing topics ... and, rarely, getting help from you guys. Check your work that you've done against him or her. If you don't get a concept, he or she can help explain a bit. If you have to slack off one day, chances are he or she didn't.

With the rest of the study group, get people who care about their grade. Maybe not as overly much so. But nobody in that group should ever be winging the class. With a strong study group in this way, everyone will reinforce each other and make everyone better off. You will also make solid friends and connections for your future, since high achievers tend to be drawn to the brain drain of finance anyway. And if not, they go into other stuff so they're interesting in their own right.

Also, just in general, make sure you surround yourself with friends who care about achieving high. These could be people pursuing finance who want a higher GPA. These could be total GPA whores who lack a cool/popular personality. In fact, especially, this could even be people who rock at their sport or have some niche hobby that they totally own. Your entourage will define you to some extent in college, not just in reputation, but in constitution. Underachieving is infectious. Your group of friends can be your immune system.

Finally, make sure you have fun. I'm aware I'm making an assumption here, because I figure if you were one of those people who threw fun by the wayside, you wouldn't be asking why your GPA is low. But even when counteracting with a high GPA next term, you need to maintain this balance. I'm not in finance yet ... all I can really do here is tell you how to rock the academics ... but I'm pretty sure nobody wants to hire someone who doesn't know how to have fun, even in their own way. Sometimes I like to go out to the frats or apartment parties or whatever. That's generally pretty rare because that stuff usually doesn't excite me, but it is fun when I do. I also just hang out with friends ... go out to restaurants, play some poker or watch some sports. Maybe even play a quick game if I can. Board games, too. Just make sure you find what you enjoy. You need to be at least content/satisfied while in college or you will underachieve.

In short, this was your first term. Chill out, learn for next year. Strategically pick the study group. Keep good friends. And for God's sake have fun. You'll be the better for it.

Sorry for the ridiculously long post. Not gonna lie, doing a bit of procrastinating right now. But this is probably the one area I have a bit of expertise in :P so hopefully this helped a bit!

-Scorpion

    • 2
Jan 3, 2013

I also just finished my first semester --with a 3.6. I will never forgive myself for not getting a 4. I can pin point the two mistakes down to the freakin wire. First problem: I partied the saturday night before my first math test on monday. Got a c. Second problem: I was on Facebook every fucking day of lecture in an irrelevant science course. Got b's in both. FML

Jan 3, 2013

I'll keep the advice short and sweet:

ADDERALL.

Seriously though, its the wonder drug. I discovered it after my freshman year, and 4.0'd through college without breaking a sweat. 10 page papers will basically write themselves and those late night study sessions seem like a walk in the park. I know some people are staunchly against the drug on principle, but I'm happy to vouch for its merits. (Just one thing to note that it is incredibly habit forming, so use it sparingly.)

Jan 3, 2013
westsider:

ADDERALL.

Seriously though, its the wonder drug.

You're wrong: RITALIN, that's the real deal.

But no, this is nonsense.

Jan 3, 2013

Go to a school where getting 3.8+ isn't that hard...one with grade inflation or just crappy competition.

Have a high IQ. You may be able to buy one of these on eBay.

Also working hard helps. Pay close attention to meeting requirements.

Good luck

Jan 3, 2013

I was a Econ/Stats double major, finished with a 3.8 exactly.

I crushed it Freshman/Sophomore year, getting all A's & A-'s. Just don't get too crazy on the party life. Parties, girls and social life is always better junior senior year anyways. Went into junior year with a 3.94, then i junior/senior year I got a couple B's, partied most weekends still finished college with a 3.8

I pledged a fraternity, took 12 credits that semester and literally slept only about 1-2 hours a night in order to keep my A's/A-'s streak alive. I was later a pledge educator which actually took a significantly worse toll on my grades as a Junior/Senior. Surviving something like pledging is really just impossible for some people.

Don't be afraid to withdraw from a class. You can BS that stuff in interviews a lot easier than a C+. Always ask as many freakin questions as possible, bother your professor/TA to death and you'll get grades rounded up for your face time. Always do extra credit, no matter how freakin annoying it is. Study groups are great too. Always make friends with the smarter kids in your class. Once they realize you will put in the work and aren't stupid either, you will all end up helping each other out.

Also - you gotta be able to case a professor. I lived off of RateMyProfessor.com and it helped me find the more sympathetic professors teaching fluff classes.

When it came to my actual major related classes, I just put my head down and worked my ass off.

lastly, I didn't sleep much.

Jan 3, 2013

If you use adderall and you don't have add/adhd, I automatically assume you are an idiot. I room with 3.8/3.9 finance majors at a top 5 undergrad business school who would wipe the floor with you. And no, they don't take adderall.

Jan 3, 2013
daffyduck1998:

If you use adderall and you don't have add/adhd, I automatically assume you are an idiot.

Thats going a bit far...kind of like saying if you drink espresso you're an idiot.

Jan 4, 2013
George Soros:
daffyduck1998:

If you use adderall and you don't have add/adhd, I automatically assume you are an idiot.

Thats going a bit far...kind of like saying if you drink espresso you're an idiot.

...but espresso isn't an illegal drug if you don't have a prescription for it

Jan 4, 2013
daffyduck1998:

If you use adderall and you don't have add/adhd, I automatically assume you are an idiot. I room with 3.8/3.9 finance majors at a top 5 undergrad business school who would wipe the floor with you. And no, they don't take adderall.

Just FYI: I just graduated form a top 5 university, am starting as an analyst with GS, and had a 4.0 all through college. All that, and I am diagnosed with ADD, but didn't get a prescription until I realized how effective the drug really can be after buying from a college friend. You have no idea how helpful it can be until you take it. I know ADD/ADHD is an incredibly over-prescribed "disorder", but it still effects probably ~10% of the adult population. Hope you enjoy staying on your high horse that is going no where.

That didn't go how you expected:

Jan 3, 2013

As some others told you: Limit your social media use to a certain extent. Nevertheless do not stop having a social life or going out. If you are studying 24/7 you will lose your positive vibe you need for studying effective.

Jan 3, 2013

I think that there's some great advice on this thread. The guy who posted Cal Newport's book should receive a silver banana, but I don't have any lol However, I think there's a general misunderstanding that if you want to get a job in banking, that you need a hard science major (math, computer science, engineering.) However, I just want to say that 1) you shouldn't revolve your major around one job that you might not even get the chance to do, and 2) you should try to stand out a little bit and not act like a drone or robot and always follow other people's advice.

For example, everyone including my parents suggested I study math or economics if I wanted to go into investment banking. Instead, I did an honors major in Classics at a semi-target school and now I work at a top three investment bank (GS, MS, JP). I think you should pursue any major you like, and make sure that you just take 1 or 2 accounting courses along with it in college. I did that and I interned over the year at investment banks (through cold emailing, I have no connections prior to college) to show that I had some sort of ongoing interest.

I found out early in my college career that taking math and econ courses were not for me. I did well, but throughly struggled in my technical gen ed classes. I ended up getting a D sophomore year in an econ class and I had to retake it for an A. The "D" still shows on my transcript, but it doesn't effect my GPA because I retook the class. Anyways, I graduated with a 3.8 GPA doing what I was not only good at, but doing what I loved. I got to read over 100 novels in college and I wrote countless papers including a 70-page honors thesis for my major. Now, if you're really into your finance/math courses, that's great too. More power to you, but I don't want other people to make it seem like you have to have a hard science major to break into a banking role. Good luck!

Jan 4, 2013

Love these threads. Thanks for all the advice.

Definitely heard Cal Newport's book is a big deal.

Anyone who had comebacks during sophomore year -> busting out a cumulative 3.7+ GPA by recruiting after shtty freshman?

Also just saw this:
http://artofmanliness.com/2012/01/03/ace-your-exam...

Jan 4, 2013

Interesting to note people saying their first year will be the worst.

My strategy through college was to pump up my GPA very early on (first year) and just hold on a pray I could keep it that high. Something along the lines of 'well it was 3.8 last semester so you need to at least maintain that, preferably lift it'. Suffice so say it lagged as semester's passed but it made two points vary apparent:

#1: As you start applying for internships early in your degree, you can post that phat 3.8+ GPA for the world to see. If it lags, so what; you have the internship to help carry you through

#2: It's all about 'averages'. So even if you drop down a bit for your final semesters, your average will still be kept up.

That's not exactly motivational material but good to keep in mind none the less

Jan 4, 2013

do you got to a target or top school?

Jan 5, 2013

Yeah, I do actually :x. (I forgot to hit quote, but someone was asking if I go to a top school)

Jan 4, 2013

What does a 3.8 mean from a percentile perspective?

For Mechanical Engineering in college a 3.5 was 85th percentile. A 3.85 was 95th percentile. That was with 200 graduates/year probably.

Jan 4, 2013

take classes with answers, or at least right answers. These classes inherently involve calculations. Everything else is subject to "interpretation." And if your "interpretation" differs from the grader's, well then that's just too bad for you.

    • 1
Jan 5, 2013

Learn to play the game my friend.

Search for easy teachers for bullshit classes and work your ass off in classes that matters. I am not at a target, rather a large public uni, so my major needs to be more quantitative than if I was at an target, but I am minoring in something that is very interesting to me. This helps offset the balance of having some classes I do not enjoy as much, mixed with other classes I really look forward to going to.

Bottom line though is you have to work hard. If you have to give up sleep, parties, and even girls every once in a while, you gotta do what you gotta do. Granted, I am a huge fan of going out, so if you work hard and manage your time, there is time left over to have fun.

Jan 6, 2013

Take the classes that get you the As. The easy classes; the hard classes; the easy profs; the hard profs; whatever that gets you the As. Do whatever it takes for the A. And don't ever ever ever give up.

I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature. -John D. Rockefeller

Jan 7, 2013

As an Asian I believe I am eligible to answer:
1. Register for the courses you LIKE, people automatically invest more time on things they enjoy doing and appear to be more concentrated.
2. Do it with easy professor, this website might be old-fashioned but useful: google "ratemyprofessors" (Take care of the comment, don't believe in random bullshit because people are bitter about unsatisfied grades and think that's not their fault.)
3. Go to the library, atmosphere matters, humans are social animals.

Good luck.

Memory since 1999.

    • 1
Jan 8, 2013

It's really not that easy to get 4.0 every semester in college but that doesn't mean it is not possible. I am a Resident Assistant in college and I work in the dining hall. Meanwhile, I take more than 21 credit hours and still maintain a high GPA.

Jan 8, 2013

Yes there's an astronomical difference between a 3.7 and 4.0. Just go to class every day and study a lot...it's not rocket science.

Jan 8, 2013
Raptor.45:

Yes there's an astronomical difference between a 3.7 and 4.0. Just go to class every day and study a lot...it's not rocket science.

Yes, the essential thing is not missing class. If you go to EVERY single class getting a 3.7-4.0 isn't all that hard. Another suggestion is that a lot of people on here may come in and say you should party your ass off and still get a 4.0 but they are lying to themselves.

If I were you I would start out by only going out once a week. This will be difficult to restrain but is totally worth it. Once you start to manage your time better and are seeing the results you want to see on your midterms you can step it up to 2 nights a week. And so on, 3, 4, 5. By my senior year I was going out 5 nights/week and my GPA did drop a little but by that time it was so high that a B or B+ really didn't effect the cumulative total.

Remember: It's harder to make up ground GPA-wise than it is to make up ground social/party-wise.

    • 1
Jan 8, 2013

Don't underestimate the first semester -- a lot of people blow up that way. After you get a feel for it, you will know how to pace yourself. Basically they lay everything out for you in class and on the syllabus but don't hold your hand, so it's up to you to master the material and try to beat the curve.

Jan 8, 2013

I had very mediocre grades in high school and average test scores. I simply made the commitment to get good grades, no matter what it took. That meant not returning phone calls, studying through the whole weekend sometimes, and limiting the distractions that enter your brain. Since I had bad study habits and ADD, this meant pulling all nighters just to get things done. I basically got straight A's, but wouldn't recommend my method if you want to stay sane. I would recommend you read up on Cal Newport's blog.

Jan 8, 2013

Don't fuck up your freshman year, that's where a lot of people mess up. Hit the ground running when you enter college, and never look back. Don't miss class (treat it as HS), party, but not too much, and study hard for your tests. Treat it as a full-time job. If all else fails, adderall will be your friend.

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Jan 8, 2013

Fear and greed

Jan 8, 2013

Second the Cal Newport suggestion. Read his stuff, I rode it to a 3.9 in my first three semesters, which allowed me to transfer to a target.

Jan 8, 2013

Go to every class without exception. If you are decently smart the information you absorb in that hour goes a very, very, long way. I would venture to say an hour in class is worth two out for many classes (math and physics are notable exceptions where I think out of class time spent is more valuable)

Jan 8, 2013

Class. Every time.

Study. Five days a week. Several hours, if possible. Relax when possible.

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."
- Oscar Wilde
"Seriously, psychology is for those with two x chromosomes."
- RagnarDanneskjold

Jan 8, 2013

I was mediocre in high school. I slacked off first year and had like a 3.2 after the first term. Managed to pull it up to a 3.7 in two years because I was committed. Obviously study and do your work. Take advantage of office hours when you need it. Meet and befriend smart people in your major as they make for great study partners. Doing well during your first year is a must. It's where you will have your easiest classes and starting off on the right foot will give your GPA a cushion when you start taking tougher classes.

Jan 8, 2013

make friends with someone who has an adderall prescription.... you think im kidding but seriously. Ever see limitless? NZT=adderall

Here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, you are the sucker.

Jan 8, 2013

There's a massive difference between 3.7 and 4.0, but a 3.7 with 2 finance internships will generally beat a 4.0 with no work experience...

Jan 8, 2013
HarvardOrBust:

There's a massive difference between 3.7 and 4.0, but a 3.7 with 2 finance internships will generally beat a 4.0 with no work experience...

I couldnt disagree more. Getting a 3.7 shows your smart, gettign a 4.0 shows that your a fucking nerd.

With that, the best way to keep your gpa from plummetting is to mix in filler courses like guitar lessons, art, and the like where you are guaranteed an A.

Jan 8, 2013

Legitimate interest in my classes

Jan 8, 2013

Become friends with the other nerds. Seriously.

Your first two years might be hard since those are GE courses but once you get into your major classes, become friends with the other people who are really studying and form study groups with them. talk about ideas, exchange notes, make them your group project partners.

I had a core group of 6 other people I studied with and we all had some combination of classes together. All of us made deans list 4 semesters in a row because we all studied together. It's easy to slack of by yourself but easy to stay motivated when others are counting on you. So surround yourself with the people going after the same things you are.

Jan 8, 2013

Don't miss class. My sophomore year I ended up having a ton of 8ams and sleeping in one day turned into three into six into... everything in college is a slippery slopes. It takes 21 days to make a habit (or so they say) but only once to break it.

At the same time, don't miss out on the social aspects of college. Yes, you can kill yourself and get a 4.0 but you could also turn into an anti-social creep that no one likes to be around. When hiring comes around you could look fantastic on paper, but if you can't hold a good conversation and make the interviewer think you'd be fun to work with... that's not good news. A select few can make the 4.0 (or 3.98) and maintain a solid social life. If you can do that, more power to you.

I'd argue that it's not hard to maintain a solid gpa (3.8+) while still being actively involved socially.

Make sure to go through fraternity rush. See if you can find one with decent academic standards that still knows how to have a good time. It's definitely worth it.

But yeah, adderall and internships help a lot. Do those too.

Jan 8, 2013

-Don't miss classes....if you just show up, its not hard to get a decent grade
-Go to office hours...at a smaller school like CM, I'm sure if you have a good relationship with professors they will give you better grades (college isn't like high school, grading is often subjective or up to the professor)
-Try to get involved on campus as much as possible in organizations that interest you (often when you have a few things going on in addition to school, quality of life is better but also you don't procrastinate
-Set up a semester outlook (get a calendar for the semester and when you get a syllabus from a class, put all the important dates and tests on it so you know what to expect)
-Go to class (can't stress this one enough)

A wise man once told me that its not about the grades you make, but the people you meet, the relationships, and the experiences you gain in college. Work hard but have fun too

Jan 8, 2013

Have your head on straight your freshman year and really look into the type of professors your getting on websites. I am not saying get the easiest professor possible because you don't want to graduate without learning anything but be aware of how hard each professor is and make your schedule accordingly. Also, I cannot stress how important a routine is when studying. Set aside a certain slot in your day that you are going to commit to studying. For me the best time to get things done was always early but it might be different for you. Always try to study before night time because once your friends start peer pressuring you to go out studying might not seem as important. If you do this you should have plenty of time to study and socialize.

Jan 8, 2013

class & OH are definitely the biggest commitments you need for school, you'll eventually meet friends in your dorm who will get into study groups with you

study/work hard 5 days of the week, socialize on the weekends-- don't miss the opportunities to establish a good social life so you don't go crazy your first year

look at all the classes in the course catalog and pick a few you definitely want to take, and plan to take those. making my schedule based on just what I saw was offered each semester got my hopes up and I ended up hating a lot of the shit I took, and didn't focus as much on them... because they sucked.

that said 3.8+ will go farther than the 4.0 if you supplement your grades with research and work experience during the year, which should set you up for freshman/sophomore internships, which should hopefully get you ready for your junior summer SA

good luck

Jan 8, 2013

As someone who fucked up both freshman and sophomore year and is paying for it:
1. Go to class, but don't just sit there passively. Take good notes. Ask questions. And go to discussion sections and office hours, you'll get to see the application/practice of what you're learning instead of just the theory that the profs are expunging during lecture.
2. Homework as soon as it's assigned. You can put it off until the night before and still get it complete, but you won't have the time to really pore over questions and understand every little bit.
3. Find people who have old copies of exams. Use them religiously to practice for classes. The only way I got through differential equations was because I had old exams back until 2003, and doing THAT much practice meant that by the time I walked into the exam, I had seen every variation of the problem they could possibly throw at me.
4. Don't fall to FOMO. Parties are fun but they get old after a while; no need to go every weekend. Same with club events, etc.
5. Figure out your major, STICK TO IT. I switched my major once in sophomore year, twice in junior year, and once senior year (yeah, don't ask). It really set me back.
6. Start using calendaring and to-do tools. I didn't start using Google Cal until junior year, but when I did, my time management shot up immensely. Also use RTM and have never missed a class assignment since.

Currently: future psychiatrist (med school =P)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

Jan 8, 2013

they let people with medicore grades into cmu now?

Jan 8, 2013

Studying every night, attending absolutely every class and doing assignments way before deadlines are not prerequisites to getting good grades. I feel like people in this thread are going to freak you out. If you come from a good high school, are pretty smart, and commit yourself at least a little bit, you will be way ahead of a lot of your peers. Also, GPA isn't everything. Make sure to have some good experiences outside the classroom. Banks are going to want well rounded analysts, not 4.0 bookworms.

Don't forget to get laid and drink cheap beer.

Jan 8, 2013

I go to CMU now so if you need anything specific to the school, don't hesitate to ask me.

Jan 8, 2013

Also, choose your classes WISELY.

1) I spent a ton of time poring over course listings to find easy classes to balance out my harder required ones. By doing so, I ensured my GPA never got destroyed due to some humanities class that I struggled in. Ask around to figure out teachers to take classes with.

2) Find out details about how each prof evaluates students (i.e. if you are good at HW sets, take classes with more weight on those instead of tests).

3) Make sure your schedule fits with your sleep habits. Early morning classes never worked for me, so I made sure to take later ones.

4) Do this, plus a lot of the other stuff mentioned above, and if you are decently smart, you will do great. Especially don't fuck up freshman year, thats hard to come back from and even though a lot of ppl say that employers care about "trajectory" or some BS like that, if your GPA is weighted down by your freshman year, it can be really hard to compensate.

Jan 8, 2013

Don't take my opinion as seriously as the others here as I'm just a freshman, but I did achieve a 4.0 last semester and am on my way to achieve between a 3.94 and 4.0 cumulative in my freshman year.

I'm not a hard worker nor do I do ANY work beyond the homework but what works for me is good work etiquette. The day I get the homework, I do it, even if the professor has not taught the material for the homework yet. This way, when the professor does teach it, I understand it while everyone else is confused as fuck.

I'm not taking a light course load either, and this is especially important because this gives you all the more reason to do your work on the day you get it if you are taking a heavy course load. I'm taking 18 credits, which is the upper limit at my university and everyone is overwhelmed but I have tons of free time from this approach.

You should also listen to the guy above who mentioned sleep schedule and balancing out classes. I'm taking 2 very hard classes so I balanced it out with 3 other classes that are neither hard nor easy, but rather don't have exams (all papers). This way I'm not going to fuck up all my papers because I have 3 on the same day. I'm also the kind of guy that wakes up at 2PM on weekends if I have nothing to do so I made sure none of my classes started before 1PM between Monday and Thursday (there are 11AMs on Monday/Wednesday but I never go to that lecture). This had made my life a lot easier than last semester when I had a 9AM everyday even though I was taking a significantly lighter course load.

Jan 8, 2013

Don't skip class and get to know your professors.

The mentality for many college students is that as long as the notes & homework assignments are posted online, you don't need to attend every class. This is a poor assumption. Where I went to school, not only did attendance count for your overall grade in most classes (professors would take attendance, have pop quizzes, or physically collect homework), but much of the class notes that were posted online were difficult to interpret unless you attended the lecture.

Further, I cannot count the number of times I squeezed out an A in a course, when I probably deserved a B or even a C, just because the professor knew my name and noticed that I never missed class and actively participated in the discussions.

Jan 8, 2013

Drink 5 nights a week.

Jan 8, 2013

The Application has a section that allows students to elaborate on anything that you feel is important for the admission committee to know while evaluating your candidature. It could be relating to academics or even your personal history.Your GPA could be a hurdle so you should use the application's section that allows students to elaborate on anything that you feel is important for the admission committee to know while evaluating your candidature. Use this place wisely to explain and prove to the admission committee that your GPA won't be an issue. If you can tell in your application about any extra classes or courses you undertook in the subjects that you did not do well. This would highlight your zeal to learn and improve and in turn improve your low GPA situation.

However A GPA of 3.7 is good. Stay positive and you should be fine

Jan 8, 2013
FutureWorks Consulting:

The Application has a section that allows students to elaborate on anything that you feel is important for the admission committee to know while evaluating your candidature. It could be relating to academics or even your personal history.Your GPA could be a hurdle so you should use the application's section that allows students to elaborate on anything that you feel is important for the admission committee to know while evaluating your candidature. Use this place wisely to explain and prove to the admission committee that your GPA won't be an issue. If you can tell in your application about any extra classes or courses you undertook in the subjects that you did not do well. This would highlight your zeal to learn and improve and in turn improve your low GPA situation.

However A GPA of 3.7 is good. Stay positive and you should be fine

Someone needs to work on their reading comprehension . . .

Jan 8, 2013

illiniPride's three point plan for college success:

1) Don't miss tests
(This is bad. I almost missed my third one last week)

2) Argue with the Prof
(This will make you smarter)

3) Drink with your classmates
(This makes life easier)

Jan 8, 2013

College senior here with a desirable gpa. I've worked hard, but have had plenty of time for fun and extracurriculars. I do virtually no work Friday or Saturday nights, and usually can take off either Saturday or Sunday. Some suggestions:

-Try to keep your gpa as high as possible freshman/sophomore year. Once you start looking for internships/jobs in junior/senior year, it becomes MUCH harder to keep up your grades. A high GPA going in gives you a bit of a cushion.
-Agree with the recommendations about the Cal Newport book. I picked that up after a good-but-not-great first semester, and it really helped me.
-Be aggressive about getting stuff done. Start essays and problem sets the day you get them. Start studying for tests earlier than you think you have to. In the end, this will result in less stress and higher grades.
-In college, there are a lot of really fun things to do. There are also things that aren't so fun, but beat studying. The second category is what will kill you. Having a great time at a party with your friends on a Friday night is fine; watching hulu for four hours on a Tuesday night is not.
-Don't be afraid to go to office hours. Go every week if necessary.
-Many college students don't know how to study: they go to the library with friends, and switch between reading their notes, checking their facebook, and texting on their phone. Find somewhere quiet, turn off your phone and wifi, and get to work. You can get a lot done in a short period of time this way.
-Learn how to say no to people. This is useful in a lot of ways in college.

Jan 8, 2013

One other suggestion is to re-read your notes on the same day that you had class. I found that this greatly helped retention.

Jan 8, 2013
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