College and graduate school were wild rides for me, and I’m sharing how to manage stress in college and get straight A’s without losing your mind.
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My Undergrad and Graduate Experiences
I started college when I was 19, because I took a gap year after graduating from high school. I was a single mom living in my parents’ house in a very small town.
When I enrolled at the local University, I started off as a Pre-Nursing candidate. Soon after starting school, I changed course to Nutrition, and then to Business. I went back and forth between Business and Nutrition, but I ended up getting a degree in Business Administration in Finance and Economics.
I went through a lot of school, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I graduated with enough credits for 3 degrees, but I walked away with one.
Hint: Even if you pick a major, it’s not guaranteed that you will end up working in that field.
Managing Stress in College
I was a very stressed out college student. Undergrad was one of the hardest times for me, because I am an Introvert, and I hated public speaking. My anxiety was through the roof. In business classes, presentations are required in every class. So I ran away.
Really, I did. I dropped classes, because I got scared.
However, I always came back to try again, because I wanted to finish school.
The next time around was always better, because I had done it already, minus the presentation parts. It took me 7 years to finish a 4 year program, but I did it.
I take pride in that.
Graduate school was easier and harder at the same time. Easier, because I was older and wiser (ha!) and harder, because I was a single mother of two working full-time night shifts at an Emergency Department.
Eventually, I figured out how to manage stress and anxiety, and while everyone is different, I thought I would share what I did.
Use your syllabus as a guide to create your semester plans.
Make a plan for every week, and take one step at a time.
As you read and learn material, review before the day ends, and consider that “study time”.
Take good notes and use those to review before exams.
Meal plan, so that you won’t need to worry about food during the week.
Eat healthy foods, so you don’t feel like crap.
Hang out with your friends, even if it means having the kids watch a few hours of tv while you drink a glass of wine and chit chat with your BFF at the kitchen table.
Take up a hobby. Make something, even if it sucks. Creating things stimulates a different side of your brain and helps relieve stress.
Exercise at least 15 minutes a day, even if that means doing squats or sit-ups in front of the tv before you take a shower.
Turn off the electronics (or put them away) and read a book, do a crossword or word search puzzle while you sip coffee or your favorite beverage.
Clean your home. A clean home reflects a clean mind.
Plan your sleep time. You need 6 hours of sleep for functioning, and more or less as your body requires it. Use a sleep tracker if that’s helpful.
How to Get Straight A’s in College
During Undergrad, I didn’t get straight A’s, but in Graduate school, I learned how to achieve better grades, even with everything else I had on my plate going 500 miles an hour.
You have to want it.
When I started my graduate program, I told myself that I wanted to get straight A’s this time around - or at least more A’s. I wanted to do better than I did in Undergrad.
I will tell you that I failed a few classes, because life caught up with me.
Listen. That’s okay.
I tried again and changed an F into an A-.
To get A’s I focused on myself and my goals, and I got to work. I did the best I could to manage my stress, using the tips above.
I went through my syllabus and used that as a guide. I set a goal to know the material by the time stated on the syllabus. This means I studied the material before I learned it in class.
Check out my post on Note-taking Tips and Memorizing Material Better
I would have the notes I made from my study session in class, and during the lecture I would add Professor notes to the presentation and made sure to add them to my notes.
Knowing what time of day you are most productive is essential to studying properly. There’s no point in studying in the morning, if your brain works better and retains information more easily when you study at night. Rearrange your schedule and adapt to your individuality.
I paid attention to what I was learning and tried to apply it to real life whenever possible. This helped drill the material into my head, and it also helped me be a better worker.
Getting straight A’s in school comes from having a plan first. If you follow your plan, knowing that it will get you to where you want to be, you will get there.
Follow your plan, step by step. Adjust along the way if you need to.
Stay flexible, and your stress won’t get the best of you.
Grab my free 2019 Student Planner if you haven’t already.
Things will get in the way, yes. Life happens.
Just get up and try again, because you want this.