So the semester’s finally over and you seem to have made it through in one piece — until you crumble at the sight of your new GPA…maybe this wasn’t your best semester yet (it’s OK, things happen) but instead of kicking yourself in the ass over and over for it, you need to get ready to give your average the comeback you know it can make.
Whoever said college is easy was without a doubt lying and I’d like to smack them across the face. Whether you’re studying biochemistry, engineering, history, journalism, psychology, or others, you WILL have at least one difficult semester. You may not do as well as you would have liked to, and while grades aren’t everything, there are still some pros to maintaining a good GPA such as:
- Being able to rush sororities/fraternities
- Scholarship qualifications
- Study abroad applications
- Membership in honor societies
- Postgraduate education (med school, law school, etc.)
Take it from someone who once had a horrible semester and received a D in a class that brought down her average — it can be difficult to rebuild those numbers. But I didn’t say it was impossible. The glorious thing is that you don’t even have to wait until next semester to start improving those numbers; if you’re on summer break (or winter break if you’re reading this in December) you have a treasure trove of resources to give your GPA a makeover.
1. Set a reasonable goal.
If you currently have a 2.9, no way in hell will your GPA be a 3.7 by the end of next semester! Understand that making huge leaps of improvement will take time. This is somewhat because the credits for your classes will be weighted differently. For example, a 4-credit class account for more of your GPA than a 2-credit or 3-credit class. So if you get an A in your 4-credit class, you’ll be in a really good position for doing well that semester. But if you get a C in said class, you might not be satisfied with what you see, even if you get a few A’s in 3-credit classes.
Setting reasonable goals makes it easier for you to define your progress, which in turn can help you continue to reach your desired GPA. If you currently have a 2.9, aiming for a 3.0 or a 3.1 is pretty reasonable.
2. Speak to an academic advisor.
More likely than not, they can tell you what classes you should take if you want to start making progress with improving your grades. They can make recommendations that fit you if you actually go see them. I know you’re super busy, but making some time even just once per semester to sit down with an advisor can make a huge difference. In the past, I have had advisors give me suggestions about the best class sequences for me so I don’t overwork myself. They’re actually a valuable college resource that often gets overlooked.
3. Take a summer class.
If you can afford it, taking a summer class or two is a good start for improving your GPA. You’ll still be taking classes applicable to your major or school’s curriculum, and it’ll help boost your GPA if you do really well in them. I know people get annoyed when their average is boosted from like a 3.0 to a 3.09 after one summer class, but every decimal counts. If you’re feeling adventurous, try taking your summer class in another country by studying abroad! I have a bunch of blog posts all about studying abroad that you can check out, but my favorite one is probably things to consider before you leave.
And if you’re considering taking a class during the winter session, I also have a post for surviving those, which you can read by clicking here.
4. Take a summer class at another university.
This is like the ~pro tip~ version of the one above. Sometimes, universities in your neighborhood offer the same course you need to take for less money AND the course itself may be easier. This is good to keep in mind because, first off, summer classes are intense because you typically have six weeks to learn five months’ worth of material and get tested on it. Second, if your college is notorious for making classes more difficult than they need to be, this is a good way to still earn credits for the class while boosting your GPA. Always check with your college first to make sure the credits will transfer AND be calculated into your average.
5. Consider changing your major.
I am in no way condoning giving up and quitting (all the time) but maybe the reason you didn’t do so well is because you weren’t studying something that you’re actually good at. I was actually in this boat and I’m so happy I changed my major — I suck at science and math, but I’m a beast at writing (if I do say so myself). I wanted to go to med school and be a doctor, but chem lab and bio were kicking my ass, and I was sick of doing just okay in my classes even though I worked so hard in them. I ended up realizing that the field just wasn’t for me and that writing was my calling, and I’d be truly happy as a writer. Maybe you’d make a terrible Business major, but a great Environmental Science major. Explore your college’s degree programs and see what stands out.
6. Change up your study habits.
Maybe studying from midnight to 4a.m. didn’t do the trick for you. Perhaps actually sleeping during those hours and studying in the morning until class will actually help you more. It can sometimes take a while to figure out what study habits work best for you, but if after a semester of skimming chapters in textbooks didn’t help you, then try a more proactive approach like creating outlines or flashcards. You’ll perform better on exams when you know what habits work for you.
7. Get a summer internship.
A lot of college degree programs may require you to have an internship that you can receive college credit for. This in turn gives you a grade of “Satisfactory” on your transcript and depending on the college you attend, it could give your average a little nudge. Plus, during an internship you tend to learn things that you don’t always learn in a classroom setting. This is knowledge that you can bring to your homework assignments and exams, so don’t overlook the power of being an intern.
8. Move forward.
Life goes on whether you decide to cry about your GPA or do something about it. If you spend your time wallowing in your sorrows you won’t have enough time to make progress.
What are your tips for improving your GPA?