The moment you get admitted into your university or college in Nigeria, you start beaming with excitement and joy.
And truthfully, you should celebrate.
Because it’s definitely not an easy task to complete secondary school, write the entrance exams, and possibly get denied many times, before finally getting admitted.
However, once you pack your bags and head to your school, your next challenge becomes doing very well in your academics.
Many people often say that your first semester in university is the ‘easiest’ time to get a perfect GPA, e.g. 5.0/5.50, 4.0/4.0, 7.0/7.0, etc.
I say, it all depends on what you do in your first semester.
In this post, I’ll show you how to settle down into your university and get that 5.0 GPA.
That way, you’ll understand the university system better, and set yourself up for success throughout your university schooling jouney.
So let’s get started.
Step #1: List out your classes
If you’re going to get a 5.0 GPA, then you’ll need to get all A’s and no B or less in any of your classes.
So the first thing to do is to list out all the classes you’ll be taking and their number of units in your first semester.
Introductory Chemistry I (4 units)
Practical Chemistry I (1 unit)
Elementary Mathematics I (5 units)
General Physics 1A (4 units)
Experimental Physics 1A (1A)
Engineers and Society (1)
Elective: Drug and the Society I (Pass or Fail)
Step #2: Write out the class times for each class
To get a 5.0 GPA, you need to get yourself every opportunity to get an A in every class, without exception.
That means, the first thing is to RESOLVE IN YOUR HEART to punctually attend all classes.
Don’t skip classes for whatever reason. And don’t be late.
To do this, you would need to know the days of the week and the venue where each professor would meet with the students for each class.
Update your list from step #1 above with the times and venue for each class.
Step #3: Identify seniors ahead of you and talk to them
The next step is to talk to seniors in classes ahead of yours.
If you’re in your first year, talk to students in your department or faculty who are in their second year.
Those students have already taken the classes you are about to take, and you can gain A LOT from them.
If a different professor will be teaching your class, different from the one who taught it last year, find the seniors who had the same professor that you’ll be having.
That way, you can get more accurate information about what to expect from the professor.
Once you identify these seniors, ask nicely that you’d like to have the questions for tests and exams for the class that they used. If one senior doesn’t have it, ask the next. Don’t keep asking until you get these questions.
If the questions are not released by the professor after each exam, find a collection of past questions and answers on each course from other sources.
The next thing you should ask these seniors is their experiences about each class.
- What was the professor like?
- Does he ask new questions or focus more on past questions?
- Does he give impromptu quizzes?
- How many tests does he give?
- What is the breakdown of his grades? For instance, two tests (15 marks each), exam (70 marks)
- What would they advise you to do, so you can do better in the class?
Take notes from these experiences, and find a way to store them. Because you’ll need them as you go through the semester.
If you hear negative experiences about a class or professor, don’t let it weigh you down. The good thing is that you now know, and so you can be better prepared to succeed in the class.
Thank each senior for their time and move on to the next step.
Step #4: Get official materials, advice, and tips from the professor
Professors will usually have a list of recommended textbooks and materials to use for the class.
They will also have their rules and advice for you on how to succeed in their classes.
Make sure you get these materials, and pay attention to these advice that they give.
As you go through the semester, constantly remind yourself of the information from the seniors (doing away with the negatives) and advice from the professors for each class.
Step #5: Commit to studying before and after every class, FOR EACH COURSE
Now you have knowledge.
People say, “Knowledge is power.”
But that saying is incomplete.
Knowledge with action is power.
If you have all the knowledge you need, but you’re not taking action, then it’s all for nothing.
Having the right knowledge is good… but you need to go on to take action for that knowledge to yield positive results.
Here are the actions you need to take:
1. Study for each class before you attend
Before you attend each class, make sure you study the topic(s) that would be discussed in that class. Read the notes, solve the questions, make sure you have the right answers, and revise your notes again.
Once you’ve done this, then you’re ready for each class
2. Always go to your classes and pay maximum attention in class
Take notes and pay attention in each class. Remove every distraction. Resist every thoughts that won’t make you focus on the class.
If you had any challenge while you were studying for the class, ask the questions in class.
Don’t ask questions to show off to the professor or other students that you know more. Ask to clarify your understanding, clear your doubts, and solve any questions you might have.
If you still do not understand the explanation from the professor, talk to the professor after class. If you still don’t understand, find someone to tutor you so you can truly understand the concept, problem or topic.
3. Study each topic after the class
You’ve studied before the class… you’ve attended the class, contributed, and paid maximum attention…
The next step (and this is important) is to study the topic after each class. Revise what you learnt earlier. Study what you were taught in class. Solve questions on the topic from the textbook.
Solve homework problems. Check past questions to solve similar questions.
You have to constantly be doing this for each class. That is, study before the class, attend class and pay maximum attention, and study after the class.
Step #6: Review your notes for each class once every two weeks
It has been proven that spaced repetition enhances learning.
If you review your notes every two weeks, it give your brain the opportunity to work on other challenges and come back to review your notes with a fresh pair of eyes.
On the other hand, if you wait till after a month before you review, you might find yourself forgetting a lot of things that you learnt or even fumble on a test or quiz within that one month.
If you consistently follow these six steps, you’d be better prepared at any point during the semester to handle class projects or do exceptionally well on any test or exam.
Dideolu Daniel writes about how to build valuable skills as a Nigerian student and successfully apply to US (post) graduate schools after getting your Bachelor’s degree at beyondbsc.com. Like his ‘Beyond BSc‘ page on Facebook, or read more helpful articles on beyondbsc.com.
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