It is said that Chinese schools tend to focus on results, and North American schools focus on quality education. While that may be true, North American universities encourage students to develop based on their results. After graduating from an undergraduate program, no matter if you want to continue to develop academic studies, or to take your diploma to find a job, a GPA of 4.0 is going to be your most solid stepping stone.
What is a competitive GPA? Everyone understands that you have to study hard to be a top student, but not everyone can do it. This article is a reminder that even if your results are not perfect, your GPA will not necessarily be ugly. We’re going to give you five tips on how to make your GPA look good.
A high GPA starts with course selections
Your GPA comes from your hard efforts, but in many cases, it can also be selected from courses. Not only do professors have very different teaching styles, they also have very different assessment styles – some professors are more generous in marking and some are stricter. To find out about professors, go to http://ratemyprofessors.com. This website has benefited students for 20 years. Looking up your professor during the course selection stage, and seeing other students’ opinions always helps to give you a better idea. However, this website allows for anonymous commenting, so the content is inevitably more subjective. It is better to concentrate on specific evaluation details rather than the overall score of the professors. Extremely positive or negative evaluations should be properly filtered, and the most relevant review content, such as the professor's oral pronunciation, and the speed of speech is probably the most important aspect for international students.
Many students focus too much on choosing the right courses, but they often ignore the number of required courses. The number of courses you take will often determine the quality of your studies. If your course-load is too heavy, you will not have enough energy, and the effort you put into your assignments will be compromised. Even if you choose a lenient professor, your efforts will be reflected in your results. Students usually share their experience in selecting courses, which can help you understand the students' average course-load each semester. If this average amount of work is difficult for you, then you may choose to take less. Just take it slow, because you can also take courses in the summer.
Understand your assessment and enhance your learning strategies
The classes you attend in the first week of each semester can often help you draw a blueprint for the semester. At the beginning, professors will introduce a syllabus, of which they will show an overview of the assessment. There are different assessment elements such as assignments, midterm and final exams / projects, quizzes, attendance, etc. Each element is worth a percentage of the final mark. With this important document, you can strategically allocate your energy based on the percentages.
Although each task must be completed carefully, you should make a distinction between the assignments that only account for 10% and the assignments that account for 30%. When you are busy with multiple projects and assignments, you need to prioritize the tasks that weigh more, and time management is an essential personal skill to have.
Bro, you are not qualified to skip class
Some students take the assessment overview, mark all the heavy assignments and exams in red, and confidently think they are managing their studies well. The fact that you can graduate even without attending classes is not something worth showing off. Ask yourself this: What did you do? Have you started a business? Have you written a book? You ended up playing games, didn’t you? We’ll talk about this a little later, but hey, do you know the risks of skipping classes?
First of all, you don't know when the professor will call on you. Even if you participate actively in class, the only time you get called on may be the one time you decided not to show up. As a result, you will lose your participation mark.
What’s crucial here is not just in getting the 5% for attendance, it is what you might miss in the absence of a class! The emphasis of the knowledge emphasized by the professor during the class tends to be the key of the quizzes and even the exam. Are you confident that your fellow classmates would lend you their notes after class? Classmates should not interfere with each other’s studies.
Learn to develop good relationships with professors and teaching assistants
Some students may be surprised to see this heading. “Oh! Who knew this would still be a thing even outside of China!” What we are referring to here is just normal relationships, public and fair. The purpose is to make full use of the resources of professors and teaching assistants to improve our learning (and even our marks).
Of course, you should make good use of class time as well, but listening in class is only a tiny part of university studies. Pre-reading, assignments, and discussions with professors and teaching assistants are more productive parts of the learning processes. In other words, showing up at the professor and the assistant's office hours, on the one hand, helps them remember you. Also, more importantly, it will "force" you to come up with questions to ask, and the process of asking questions is the most critical learning experience.
Some students often overlook the important role of the teaching assistant. Consider this: when the professors are so busy, how many of them will grade the assignment papers themselves? Of course, the assistants do the work for them. So, understanding the assistant's views on related issues means it will be easier for you to grasp the main points of the solution. Also, teaching assistants are often graduate students or doctoral students of professors, so they know the professor better than anyone. Naturally, they are also your best informants.
Finally, it should be noted that sending emails to ask questions is not always the best substitute for face-to-face communication. The professors' inboxes are always full. One of your insignificant questions will likely sink to the bottom and be forgotten. You think you can impress the professor just through email? Impossible.
Retreat in face of difficulty
Although everyone wants to move forward in their studies, it may also be smart to retreat when faced with difficulty.
If your midterm turned out to be a tragedy, then you must consider the weightings of the rest of the assignments and the final exam to see if the remaining grades can help you make bring your mark up. If not, please check the deadline for withdrawal and drop the course in time. Remember, it's not shameful to drop out of a course. Do you know how many courses a top student has to swap out for a GPA of 4.0? It's not too late for retaliation!
Also, if you messed up on your elective courses, there is another solution to protect your GPA from dropping. You can choose to exclude this mark from your average. Schools often allow this for two courses as the limit. Please refer to the specific policies of your school. Of course, there is also a deadline for making this decision, and students need to be aware of this.