10 Easy Ways To Relax + Enjoy Alone Time In College

10 easy ways to relax + enjoy alone time in college

Wanna know the biggest secret that successful students are hiding from everyone? They DON’T do work 24/7. Insane, right? We all have our share of difficult days and mountains of homework, but don’t forget to take some time to chill and think about something other than school work. Relaxation is a crucial part of taking care of ourselves, and if we skip this step then it won’t be long before our academics start to slip. Currently, I have an 18-credit schedule, school clubs that I’m part of, an internship (and I may be getting a second one this semester! Fingers crossed for me!), a blog (obviously), and friends and family to keep up with. And, trust me, I make sure I make some time to lounge around better than any house cat. We all have very different ways of relaxing, but the most important part of it is making sure that during this magical time, your mind is relaxed and you aren’t concerned with your obligations.

Don’t expect to have a jacuzzi at your disposal with scented candles, bath bombs, and flower petals in your dorm room (one of those things isn’t even allowed in college dorms!) but there are still some easy ways that you can chill and have some time to yourself.

1. Give yourself a manicure.

I’m a huge fan of nail art and more often than not, I can be found in my dorm room painting my nails while I catch up on my favorite shows on Netflix. You’ll have to block out at least an hour and a half to do your nails because it takes time for them to dry. And if you’re trying to do a fancy design, you’ll need more time, which means you can chill for much longer. It’s also fun to scroll through Pinterest to look for cute designs to do, so this is another great excuse to hop onto Pinterest.

Related: 5 Types Of Pinterest Boards That Will Make Life Easier

2. Read a good book.

I used to be able to read a book a day but for a while, I stopped when things got a bit crazy with school work. This year, I really picked reading back up and it’s one of my favorite ways to relax. I like to read for an hour before I start my assignments and I also save it as the last thing I do at night before going to bed instead of scrolling through my phone. Books are just a nice way to escape your world and live in someone else’s for a few hours. This is a good way to give your undivided attention to something not school and adult life-related. I highly recommend “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” by Jenny Han. It’s what I’m currently reading and it’s such a good book! What book are you obsessing over right now? Let me know in the comments!

3. Create DIY face masks.

I live for DIY! I find so many cute projects on Pinterest and I can’t help but save them all to try out later. If you collected any great recipes for masks from Pinterest, now’s a great time to test them out. You can also scroll through the internet and watch TV while you wait for your mask to dry. It’s a great way to treat yo’self while you treat yo skin. Just make sure that the ingredients you use in the face masks aren’t harmful to your skin!

Related: DIY Cupcake Bath Bombs

4. Soak your feet in hot water and read a magazine.

It’s like having a spa day in the comfort of your dorm room! Sure, you’ll need a large enough container to hold the hot water, and a bit of space but, honestly, I’m extra enough that I would totally do this! Hell, I would buy a container JUST to do this. I used to sometimes soak my hands in really warm water to soften my nails just before I cut them and it was SO relaxing. Hot water just has this calming effect against the skin and it feels AMAZING. You can even plan a full on pedicure day! If you ~really~ want to do this right, you can invest in some scented oil and rose petals and add them to your foot soak. Don’t forget the magazine!

5. Bake delicious goodies.

This is yet another excuse to scroll through Pinterest for hours. This requires a bit of planning if you don’t already have all the ingredients at your disposal, but it’s totally worth it! Baking has been a hobby of mine since I was in middle school and I discovered that I make some seriously kickass fudge brownies. You can easily turn this activity into a girls’ night thing if you wanted to. My suite mate and I plan to bake cookies in our kitchen and share them with our entire floor.

6. Workout at the gym.

This isn’t exactly a creative suggestion since you’ve probably seen this idea in any article or blog post related to relaxing in college, but nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning. Working out doesn’t always mean running on the treadmill or doing squats on a mat; sign up for a fitness class at your college recreation center. My personal favorites are Zumba and Zumba toning. Challenge yourself to try every fitness class at least once. If it’s too cold to walk to the gym, you can bring the fitness to your dorm room, well, minus the treadmill… Invest in a yoga mat so you can easily practice poses, squats, pushups and other things.

7. Practice your hobbies.

We can probably all name at least two things that we used to do all the time when we were in high school but stopped having time for when we got to college. Do that. Pick it back up. You don’t necessarily have to start a new hobby in your free time. This way, you don’t have to worry about potentially not enjoying what you try. I used to make friendship bracelets every single day when I was in high school. I’d sit in front of the TV and do these complicated designs. I hear so many people talk about the things they used to do when they were in high school but stopped after coming to college. If you miss it, then use your alone time to get back on it.

8. Go to a local event by yourself.

Literally just take yourself on a date. I don’t do too many things by myself because I’m very used to always going out with a friend, but this is something I’d like to start trying out. I think that this is a good way to enjoy what you want to enjoy because you won’t have to go by anyone else’s schedule and you won’t have to try to accommodate for anyone but yourself. If this isn’t something you’re used to, start off by looking for events happening in your school’s area.

9. Start a journal.

Ever have something on your mind that you just can’t tell anyone else for whatever reason? Write those thoughts down in a journal! It’s probably better than passive aggressively writing a social media status about it. Plus, you’ll be getting it off your chest without stirring up any drama. I’m sorry, I’m making this sound like journaling is exclusively for venting about things that annoy you. It’s not. Journaling is perfect for simply talking about what happened during the day. You can really add memories to your journal by pasting photographs in there. When I studied abroad, I kept a daily journal and bought postcards that I taped to the pages. You can also start a scrapbook project during your chill time. I think I definitely regret not starting a scrapbook when I started college, but I guess it’s never too late to start one!

10. Go for a walk.

I know a lot of people enjoy taking long walks by themselves. It’s very relaxing because you can just go at your own pace and not worry about reaching a particular destination. Just walk for as long as you feel like you need to. If you’re feeling particularly full of energy, go for a jog instead.

What’s your favorite way to unwind? 

Don’t forget to check out these posts: How To Get Over The Winter Break Blues, 13 Tips For Getting A’s In Your Classes

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8 Travel Makeup Tips + Beauty Essentials For Travel

8 makeup travel tips + beauty essentials for travel
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link, I may receive compensation. This compensation comes at no additional cost to you. As always, I only recommend products that I genuinely trust!

 

If you’re as obsessed with beauty as I am, you probably wouldn’t be caught dead without mascara, sharp eyeliner, and powerful af liquid lipstick that doesn’t budge for anything. Bringing all that to another country or even another city can sometimes be a struggle, especially if you have enough makeup to feed a small town, if they ate makeup. When I embarked upon my trip to Ireland, it really took me some time to figure out what I was going to take and what was going to stay, and how I should organize things. I wanted to pack all my essentials so I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to purchase them abroad, but at the same time I didn’t want to feel like I was hoarding things into my carry on that didn’t need to be brought along. If you’re planning a trip and this totally sounds like something you’d fight yourself on, here are my tips for packing makeup. Oh, and by the way, I’m also sharing a short list of all the beauty essentials that are legit essentials that everyone should pack for a trip — whether you’re a makeup maven or a once-in-a-blue-mooner. It definitely helps to have these items, and some of them are things that people FORGET to pack!

1. Bring just three shades of lip color.

Can’t decide which of your 100 tubes of lipstick to bring along? A good rule of thumb that I like to follow is to always bring just three shades of any lip color: one natural; one “fun” color; one “sexy” color. The natural color is great for everyday wear and professional settings. The “fun” color is great for day trips and excursions, and going on best friend dates and other fun activities. It’s sometimes that color that your mom looks at you weird for wearing. And your “sexy” color is great for dinner at restaurants and just going out at night. This is NOT the time to bring that shade you never, ever wear even though it stares at you from your makeup bag. If you don’t wear it at home, you probably won’t wear it somewhere else. Save yourself the space.

Related: 7 Matte Lipsticks Under $8

2. Invest in makeup remover wipes.

These are AMAZING! They’re so great for quickly removing makeup after a long day of hiking, walking, running, and flying. My personal favorites are Elf makeup remover wipes ($3 at most stores) and the Neutrogena makeup remover wipes ($6.99 at some stores). I wear stubborn foundation that’s literally meant for 24-hour wear and these products actually manage to get it off. If you won’t be away for very long, purchase a mini pack of wipes. Makeup wipes aren’t something that you want to purchase in another country because they can be quite expensive, so make sure you pack a little more than what you think you’ll need. Q-tips are also a great thing to pack.

3. Read the TSA’s rules for traveling with liquids.

When I was preparing to travel to Ireland this winter, I read and re-read and then re-re-read these rules online because THEY TREAT CERTAIN MAKEUP PRODUCTS AS LIQUIDS and you need to be aware of this if you’re flying. Essentially, liquids must be kept in 3oz containers and all the containers need to be able to fit in a quart-sized resealable bag in your carry on. If you plan to carry more than 3oz of liquid, it MUST go in your suitcase. Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to leave behind a beloved product! The rules are very strict so make sure you pay attention to what you have. Items that count as liquids are: mascara, liquid or gel eyeliner, liquid lipsticks and lip gloss, liquid foundation and concealer, and primer. Basically, if you have to squeeze it, pump it, or stick a wand applicator in it, it counts as a liquid.

4. Don’t bring anything you’re afraid to lose.

I would probably lose my shit if I lost my Naked 2 eyeshadow palette because those do not come cheap! Plus, the palette is quite large, so of course I didn’t pack it. If you’re worried about losing a product you paid a lot of money for, then that’s probably your gut telling you to pack something else. I did pack an eyeshadow palette that I paid like $3.99 for and the shades were all super perfect.

5. Pack products that do more than one thing.

Instead of packing foundation AND moisturizer, pack a tinted BB or CC Cream. If you usually use several products to build up coverage, invest in one product that’s meant for full coverage so you aren’t packing extra bottles and adding extra weight.

6. Pack minis. 

Minis are such great space-savers! Plus, you won’t have to worry about losing your full-sized product because it’ll be safe and sound at home. I know some products may be hard to come by in mini form, but if you can find them, they’re definitely worth purchasing, especially if your trip isn’t going to be for more than one month.

7. Invest in a brush roll. 

This is probably the one thing I didn’t do when I travelled to Ireland and I definitely wish that I had. Brush rolls are great for organizing and storing your brushes. They’re the fancy cases that you see a lot of makeup artists sporting. I never realized how gross it can be to just toss your brushes in the same bag as your cosmetics. You run the risk of having them collect more germs this way. I’m definitely going to invest in one for my next trip.

8. Pack products that are already favorites. 

This is NOT the time to try out a new brand of foundation or a primer you’ve never used before. Stick to the things that you know already work great for you, because if while you’re away you find that the new product isn’t what you wanted it to be, you might end up spending extra money looking for something else to use in the meantime.

Essentials:

  • Dry shampoo
  • Bobby pins + hair ties
  • Sunscreen + face wash
  • Lip balm
  • Coconut oil (if you can)
  • Q-tips
  • Nail file

What are your makeup travel tips and beauty essentials? 

Related: 10 College Beauty Essentials, How To Be Money Smart While Studying Abroad

How To Get Over The Winter Break Blues

It was great six-week break, even if Netflix and Doritos were your best friend for the most part. But it’s about time to go back to college and do college stuff and be kind of an adult for the next 15 weeks. Heaven help us all. No matter what you did over the winter break, you might long a little (or a lot) for those days of relaxation. Simply put, you’re just not ready to deal with dorm life, classes, and deadlines again and that’s okay. Adjusting to a new semester is rarely ever easy for anyone — whether it’s your first semester of college or your eighth. I know a lot of people tell me that their winter break made them accustomed to not doing much and it’s going to be really hard to get back into a demanding routine. Been there, done that! But here are my tips for never going back…

1. Meet up with friends ASAP.

I’ll be honest here. I sometimes have those moments when I want to socialize with everyone and those moments when I don’t feel like talking to anyone and just want to get right down to what I have to do. More often than not, the start of my semesters have been full of me not really feeling like hanging with people. But seeing people and catching up with friends from the semester before makes things a lot easier because you feel like you have people going through the same things as you. No one is particularly thrilled to go back to all-nighters and homework up to their ears, but at least you can all grab coffee and nervously laugh about those impending moments together! If you can schedule even just 30 minutes for a quick breakfast with a friend or two, your mood will definitely improve.

Related: 10 Secrets For Making New Friends In College

2. Visit old professors you were close to.

Even just stopping by for a quick ‘hi’ can help greatly. Hold onto any connections you made with professors from the previous semester. This is a great time to make small talk and chat about the weather because you aren’t as busy, and if you’re feeling unsure about the semester that lies ahead, your old professor might be able to help encourage you and soothe some worries by offering advice and resources. A lot of people think that networking starts after you leave college, but the truth is that it starts the minute your freshman self sets foot on campus. You never know what kind of information you can get out of your professors.

3. Make an effort to go out.

I know it’s January and snuggling up to hot chocolate indoors can feel very tempting, but also be sure to leave the room once in a while and see what’s happening on campus. The flood of emails about welcome back parties and events may be a bit overwhelming, but go through them and see which events stick out to you the most. Don’t forget about your college involvement fair! This is also a great opportunity to see what clubs and organizations are out there. Also, despite what many people may think, it’s never too late to want to get involved on campus. I’m a second semester junior and I still get excited for involvement fairs because every organization is a new chance to get involved with campus in a new way and meet a ton of new people.

4. Create to-do lists.

This is one of the easiest ways to get back into the swing of things if you feel you’ve gotten a bit lazy over the break. I always say that I live by to-do lists because they’re a quick and easy way to get all the obligations running through your mind down on paper so you can tackle them in a more organized fashion. You may have 10 different syllabi to print out, homework on the first day, textbooks to purchase, and a host of other things to do, and writing them all down on paper will make it much easier to keep track of what you still need to do.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Organizing Your Life In College

5. Busy yourself up.

Sometimes you might feel like the beginning of your semester is light and you have ample free time to chill. WARNING: Moments like these can also be rare and dangerous. Be aware that this can also contribute to feelings of laziness. I’m not saying that you should pile the obligations of the world onto your shoulders, but adding extracurriculars, a job, or an internship to your schedule can certainly help with time management because you’ll have less time to feel lazy. I find that when I’m less busy is actually when I burn myself out because I have fewer experiences to learn from and motivate me. I’m definitely still looking around for an on-campus job and keeping an eye out for an extracurricular or two that I can join. As always, be careful to not bite off more than you can chew. Everyone’s balance is different, so be able to know when you’ve made yourself TOO busy.

6. Set goals. 

Where do you want to be in two weeks? In one month? By spring break? These don’t have to be long term goals, and they also don’t have to be related to academics. Maybe your goal is to go to the gym at least four times a week *cough* my goal *cough*. Maybe you have a secret life as an aspiring author and your goal is to write 25 pages a week for the book you’re working on. Maybe you just want to get back on track with viciously reading books and you want to start a new book every two weeks. Every goal counts!

7. Dream about spring break plans. 

Well, this may not sound like a good idea because you’ll probably get sad that spring break feels like it’s never going to come, BUT you can also use it as a motivator to keep putting your best foot forward. You’ll earn a much-needed break and you’ll get to enjoy it no matter what your plans are — whether you’re hitting up Miami with your squad or planning an entire week of adventures in the city with your best friend.

How do you get over the winter break blues? 

How To Be Money Smart While Studying Abroad

how to be money smart while studying abroad

I very recently returned from a study abroad program in Ireland (so you can definitely expect a couple more travel-related blog posts in the coming weeks!) and it was pretty much my first time traveling to another country, so of course there were some things that were completely new to me. Let’s be blunt here. Studying abroad is EXPENSIVE. there are program fees to pay, tuition, application fees, and after you get accepted to the program you have to buy travel essentials and convert currency. One thing you have to be sure of is that you’ll have enough money to last you the entire duration of the trip. And this is where you might start to worry….

You’ll feel like you need to have EVERYTHING in the shops; you need to buy gifts for your friends, parents, and siblings, and don’t you even dare return home without picking something up for your mom’s cousin’s daughter — you’ll never hear the end of it if you do. Not to mention the fact that you’ll have to pay for daily meals and anything else that comes up. Here’s how I managed my spending while abroad while still making room to treat myself (and my family and friends).

1. Pack the medications you use on the regular so you don’t have to purchase them abroad.
This is more of a pre-departure preparation but it can save you some cash. If you know you use Tylenol when you get headaches, pick up a travel pack of it before leaving home. If you’re prone to catching colds, make sure you bring some cough drops and some of your cold medicine. It can be costly to have to run out and purchase these things while abroad. And, depending on where you travel to, it can be difficult to find a pharmacy to purchase these things. It’s much safer to just come prepared with these items. I also have a post on everything you should pack for study abroad, if you’re interested.

2. Don’t go out drinking every night.
Chances are, the drinking age abroad is lower than the one you’re used to in your country. In the U.S., the drinking age is 21 but in Ireland the drinking age is 18. It can be tempting to go out and have some legal fun and not be carded at every pub or bar you enter, but don’t let the fun go to your head. One drink may be just five dollars, euros, pounds, or whatever, but all those drinks will add up fast, and before you know it you’ll barely have money left for souvenirs.

3. Bring a refillable water bottle.
Continuously buying bottles of water at the store can get pricey. On day one, I bought a bottle of water from the vending machine and it cost two euros, which I thought was pretty expensive. Having a refillable bottle handy will allow you to quench your thirst wherever and whenever. And I promise I’m not trying to sell you water bottles, but that’s just how useful they really are.

4. Make sure you love it, not just like it.
High quality items can be extremely expensive, so make sure you’re dropping the big bills on something you actually really, genuinely love. Sometimes when you see something eye-catching you just can’t get it out of your head and you feel like it was made for you. That’s when you snatch it up.It can be difficult to convince yourself that you don’t need every single keychain in the store. I didn’t purchase too many things for myself because even though I saw so many pretty things, I knew that there were some things that I wouldn’t feel bad about not buying and I was right.

5. Splurge on authentic rather than tourist target.
There will definitely be some items that you see in basically every single gift shop, and often times the prices of these items vary and can get quite high. After a couple of days in Ireland, I made a list of things that I will NOT purchase at tourist gift shops: jewelry; woolens; hats; chocolate; tea. There are specific shops that sell these items in AMAZING quality and while they may be a bit more expensive, I knew that I’d be purchasing the very best for someone I care about. It’s much better to dish out the extra dough on something authentic rather than picking up the lower quality stuff at tourist traps, in my opinion.

How To Be Money-Smart While Studying Abroad

6. Look into purchasing city passes.
City passes basically allow you to visit certain attractions and use certain transportation for free while you’re in a specific city. Of course, you do pay a fixed fee for the city pass so everything isn’t exactly free but it does save you money. Why go in your pocket to pay the bus fare every time you want to go somewhere when you can just flash your pass and be on your way? Be aware that city passes are not universal and therefore not every city offers them. If you aren’t sure, visit the tourist center where you’re staying and you’ll have all the information you need.

7. Ask your professor for the dish on the best places to eat and find some items.
The professor who supervised our study abroad program was extremely knowledgable about where to get certain things for the best price, best quality, where to get the best dishes, where the grocery stores were, what closed at what time, and all that other important stuff that we usually don’t think about before heading out. Simply asking questions can be key to saving yourself money. And if you’re on an exchange program and don’t have a supervising professor, don’t be afraid to ask some locals for their opinions!

8. Use Trip Advisor.
This is another alternative to asking your professor. Trip Advisor is pretty trustworthy and can help you find what you’re looking for. Read what people have to say about certain restaurants so you know if the food is good for the price before you spend money. Get a consensus on attractions before you pay admission. This can definitely save you a couple of bucks.

9. Limit the laundry.
If your program is just a couple of weeks long like mine was, aim to do laundry just once or twice in large loads. Laundry wasn’t easily accessible everywhere I went and some places were very pricey. I grabbed a couple of other students in the program and we put our laundry together to form one big load because none of us wanted to pay a lot of money just to wash underwear and a couple of sweaters. We split the costs and I paid less than three euros to do my laundry. To limit the laundry, make sure you pack enough clothes for the trip and only pack what you’ll actually wear so that unnecessary pieces of clothing don’t take up space in your suitcase.

Another great thing that really helped me out was packing a Tide-to-go pen. When I was eating dinner one night, I got a splash of soup on the sleeve of one of my prettiest sweaters and it was only my first time wearing it. I didn’t want to just throw it to wash because it was really early in the trip and I didn’t have enough clothing to wash. So I just used my Tide to go pen and it took care of the stain so I could still wear the sweater until I was ready to wash clothes.

10. Keep your money safe.
This is one of the most important ways to be money smart wherever you are. Keep an eye on your cash as well as any credit or debit cards that you bring. Know exactly how much you have at all times so you’ll know if you’ve lost money. Don’t leave your wristlet on the table at dinner and walk away, even if a friend is watching your stuff. There’s not much they can do if someone swiftly walks by, swipes your purse off the table, and is out the door before your friend can even blink. When walking in crowded areas, keep your bag or purse in front of you and close to your body.

11. Get a tax card and also ask for tax receipts every time you make a purchase.

We received Horizon cards on day one and were told to present the card whenever we made a non-food or beverage purchase. The prices on the items already included tax and because we were just tourists, we’d be able to get that money back upon leaving the country. DON’T forget to ask the cashier if the store scans Horizon cards. If you’ve been buying up a ton of gifts for family and friends, you will lose quite a bit of money if you forget. I definitely forgot to use my card for a lot of purchases, and it’s too late now. Check to make sure that the country you’re in can give you some kind of tax card. Stores that don’t scan tax cards will usually give you a tax receipt that you can fill out.

What are your tips for being money smart while abroad? 

Related posts: 13 Tips For Saving Money In College, 9 Things You Must Consider Before Studying Abroad

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13 Tips For Getting A’s In Your Classes

13 Tips For Getting A's In Your Classes

I know, a semester just ended and the last thing you want to think about right now are your grades for next semester. In fact, you’re probably in the process of receiving this semester’s grades and you’re either doing a happy dance with your laptop or wondering what could have been if you had done a few things differently. Or maybe you worked super hard and still didn’t get the grades you wanted. I have been in all of those positions at some point since starting college, and of the two not-so-good ones, the latter is sometimes harder to fix.

I know our generation is all like, “a letter grade shouldn’t define who you are,” “a number is not representative of your abilities,” and I agree that we shouldn’t label ourselves as “not smart” because of a B or C in a class. Getting high grades, however, helps you become eligible for scholarships (yay for saving money!), honor societies, certain organizations on campus (including some Greek Life orgs.), and on-campus jobs and internships to name a few. So while I promise you you’re still a beautiful genius no matter what grade you got in English class, it’s also not a great idea to throw your transcript to the wind.

I recently received grades in my classes that I’m extremely proud of and I know that it’s difficult and there isn’t exactly one set, cookie-cutter method that will work for everyone, but I figured I could try to share my tips for getting A’s because maybe you’ll find something in here that takes your college academics to a new level, or something. I know, I’m trying way too hard to convince you to keep reading, so here are my tips!

1. Understand the expectations of every assignment.

This is essential to making sure you get full credit for everything. If you don’t understand what’s being asked of you, you’ll leave out some required aspects and, thus, get lower grades. Read the assignment requirements in their entirety (even if they seem to go on and on forever). When the assignment instructions are lengthy, I like to give it a read and then create a checklist of all the required elements to summarize things. This way, I know I’m not missing anything. If something’s unclear, ask the professor.

2. Procrastinate smartly.

Okay, I know that smart procrastination sounds like an oxymoron but hear me out. This semester, I found that doing assignments for certain classes the night before actually helped me produce quality work and I went on to get A’s in those classes. So basically here’s the (short) story with me: I had this multimedia skills class where I had to use camera equipment to work on a new video every week to help build our skills with Final Cut Pro. It was tedious and shooting the footage required A LOT of planning ahead, however, I always waited until the night before to edit the footage because I found that I was able to sit down and take my time through all of it. Sure it was a long walk from the lab back to my dorm room at midnight, but in that moment I could just focus on what I was doing and nothing else. Didn’t have to worry about rushing to my next class, didn’t have to worry about another class coming into the lab — I could just go at my own pace, take breaks as needed, and basically leave whenever I felt happy with my work. The setting was also very peaceful and quiet and I was able to give my assignments my undivided attention.

If you can find this type of assignment bliss in any of your classes, I highly suggest going with it. You will produce higher quality work because you’re able to take your time while still on a deadline. Does the math building have that one special room that’s always quiet after 9pm? Maybe the atrium in your favorite building is the best place to study Thursday mornings. This really worked for me and I know I’ll be taking classes of the same nature next semester, so I’ll definitely keep doing this.

3. Use a planner to stay on top of your tasks.

I am totally the type of person to pour their life into a planner or an organization app, and I pretty much do this on the daily. I’m definitely a meticulous planner and I like to list all of my tasks and even write them down in the order I want to complete them. You don’t have to be as hardcore as I am, but investing in a planner definitely helps keep you on top of everything. My planner lets me create daily to-do lists, jot down due dates on the monthly calendar, and record birthdays and events so I never miss anything. If you aren’t a paper and pen kinda person, utilize your phone’s calendar app or download Google Calendar (another Godsent).

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Organizing Your Life In College

4. Ask questions that go beyond the professor’s lecture.

Sometimes asking questions about things that take the lecture a little further is key to unlocking that extra knowledge that can really save your ass on an exam. I usually asked my one professor about additional techniques when editing, just for my personal knowledge if I, say, decided to start a YouTube channel. Then, later on I was actually able to use those answers to really make my projects impressive. Asking these kinds of questions can also clarify a concept for you, and likely for others, especially if you feel that the professor moves too quickly or discusses obscure points.

5. Don’t do all of the readings.

Especially not if you have to read like 500 pages in a medieval textbook in one weekend. My one professor would assign an entire book for us to finish and then in class would go over important sections and quotations that would be on the test. So if the book was really long or boring, I’d check out Sparknotes (that thing our high school teachers forbade us from using) to get an idea of what happened in the book, then I’d highlight and jot down the quotes as well as the full discussion on them as the professor spoke. This saves a lot of time and energy. Also, be very observant during the first few weeks of class because this can tell you if you should be reading the textbook or not. Some professors comprise their exams entirely out of lecture material, so textbooks are often a waste of time in this situation. Pay close attention to know what to do.

6. Don’t skip class.

There are very few things that would make me actually feel like skipping class. I’d have to be really, really sick to decide to not leave my room. When you skip class you miss out on a day’s worth of notes. I know it can be tempting to just ask your friend in class to text you a picture of their notes, but everyone’s note-taking style is different and it may not benefit you. If you’re the type of person who has to write down EVERYTHING in order to understand something, you aren’t going to enjoy reading notes from someone who only writes down a couple of words here and there. Go to class and take your own notes. Plus, if you skip class you’ll definitely miss out on important announcements, including ones involving extra credit!

13 Tips For Getting A"s In Your Classes

7. Don’t do work if you’re not in the zone.

I know no one actually ever says, “OMG I’m so excited to start that 10-page paper now!” but just simply being focused and having the words and thoughts and calculations and whatnots flow out of you is as close to the zone as you could possibly ask for. If I know my mind isn’t in it then I don’t do work unless it’s something that I urgently need to pay attention to. You need to be in the mindset to work and if you aren’t then you’ll be very unfocused and it’ll take longer for you to finish the assignment. You’ll read the words on a page without actually understanding what they mean. Then, you’ll have to go right back to that page another day because you didn’t understand it the first time. If you don’t feel focused, there are some things that you can do to nudge yourself in the right direction.

  • Go to the gym for a quick workout
  • Build focus by building up a daily routine
  • Read articles
  • Take out your books and class material
  • Keep your to-do list in front of you
  • Study in the company of people who also need to study

8. Get your sleep.

As I’m typing this, I should probably start making my way into bed…but I’m really in the zone for writing right now and I just can’t stop! Anyway, I know this is where people run into some trouble because some people work better at night while others work better during the day. Personally, I’m terrible at staying up late so I usually go to bed early so I can wake up early and start my day. There have been fewer than five instances this semester where I actually got fewer than six hours of sleep because I know I can’t operate throughout the day with limited sleep. Sleeping will ensure that you’re more alert, retain more information, and have more energy to do assignments. Nothing — not even coffee — beats a good night’s sleep.

Related: How to Get 8+ Hours Of Sleep In College, How To Pull A Successful All-Nighter In College

9. Get group projects out of the way ASAP.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone has a love-hate relationship with group projects for any class. Because now you don’t have to just rely on yourself; you have to rely on at least two other people to pull their weight, keep the group informed, and basically continue being a student at least until the project is over. Take the lead on all projects and make sure your group starts thinking about them early and not at the last minute. This way, if there needs to be any adjustments or if there are disagreements, they happen early on and not when you should be putting on finishing touches. In my experience with working with others, every group needs that one person to be assertive and get the ball rolling, otherwise nothing will get done. I’m definitely a take-charge person but I do feel that there’s a fine line between staying on top of things and babysitting people. Guess which of the two I DON’T do… Maybe I’ll write a post on how to survive group projects later on — I’ve got a mouthful for that one!

10. Find a study method that works for you and stick to it.

I know this one’s been said many times before, but I have found that a lot of times, it can be easy to succumb to other peoples’ study methods because they seem to be doing far less work and are getting good grades. The phrase “work smarter, not harder,” only works if it actually works. I had this one class where we had a ton of reading everyday from the front page of the newspaper and we were quizzed on all the content every week. When I have readings like this to do, I like to take notes on all the major points. And right before my quiz or exam, I re-read the notes I took and I do really well. A lot of people would say that this is a lot of work — just re-read all the articles twice and you should be good. But simply reading the text doesn’t work for me. You need to just stick with what works best for you. I definitely spent an average of maybe three or four hours per week (which was a lot compared to the time some of my other classmates spent studying) preparing for those quizzes, but I did so in my favorite study spot (aka Starbucks) with an iced coffee in hand and a comfy seat under my butt, so the work actually wasn’t so bad.

11. Put your phone face down while studying or working.

When sitting down to study or work, I only look at my phone when I take small breaks. Otherwise, I keep the screen hidden so I don’t see any notifications that can distract me. I have studied with so many people who snatch up their phones the instant they see a Snapchat notification or a text from a friend. By the end of our study session, they’ve barely ticked anything off their to-do list. Learn the art of ignoring. It’ll help you finish your work much faster.

Related: How To Have A Productive Library Study Session

12. Read the syllabus and don’t miss homework assignments.

This is another one that’s been said before but keeping up with the syllabus will help you never miss homework assignments. Some professors weigh a significant amount of your grade on those homework assignments. And even if they don’t, you’re leaving stray points on the table (more on that below) every time you fail to turn in an assignment. Your syllabus will also tell you how to turn in homework assignments. Do you email them to your professor? Do you submit them through an online system? Does your professor accept hard paper copies of your homework?

13. Don’t leave stray points on the table!

This is a huge mistake that a lot of people (including myself) have made. Stray points are defined by Jasmin’s Dictionary of College Terms as:

stray points /n./ The little things that you can and should do throughout the semester to get a better grade, but you don’t because your lazy ass has convinced you to do it next time (and you still don’t).

That is all too familiar to me! These little things can be as simple as raising your hand one time every class for those participation points. In one of my classes from this semester, the professor told us that an easy way to get participation points if we’re shy and don’t like talking in class is to leave comments on online presentations done by our classmates. I kept telling myself I’d do it next weekend and the other weekend until I eventually forgot to do it. My grade in the class went from an A to an A- just from that. That, my friends, is why you should never leave those stray points dwindling.

What are your tips for getting good grades in class?