Philosophy: Grades don’t Matter, This does…

A recent blog friend of mine Kim Kwan Ho wrote a piece putting forth 4 tips for better grades. After reading this, I was interested in presenting some of my points. With his permission, I will put in my two cents on how to get better grades.

Honestly, for those of you still in college/university/uni, grades are of course important. Any GPA higher than a 3.5 will definitely get your noticed among employers when you first step out of the halls of party zone central university.

But the truth is, as I recently explained to a British student in California for a work-study program – it’s not about the grades any more. It’s about what you do while you’re in college the makes the biggest difference in your professional lives down the line (as well as your personal and emotional ones as well!).

But anyway, I digress; here are my own points for getting good grades in a university environment:

1.) Know What you want

College/Uni/University is a time when the young should not only be preparing for the future (unlike me), they should also be living in the moment and exploring what they want, who they are, who they want to be with, amongst other things.

Like Edison stated after he invented the lightbulb:

I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. 

The environment that University supports is one that you will not find anywhere else in today’s society. Nowhere is a student going to be able to live off of their parent’s money (minus those who worked their way though) and still be able to do whatever the hell they want – 90% of the time

(I know there are high schoolers who had this life, but this is for college people, so bear with me).

Know what your big goal is in college. No, not (just) to get laid by that beautiful and alluring individual sitting two rows down from you, but what do you want for yourself. What is your long term goal: Becoming a writer? Move out of the folks house and stay out? Become a financial god without all the booze?

How about a short term goal: Just want to get an A in the class just so that you can get on into Bio? Want get that attractive someone’s number via their best friend who’s a TA? Join a club that help you get out of your antisocial shell? Whatever; This rule applies to everything in college – not just studying.

My friend Kwan Ho already did a piece on this so I won’t repeat it for redundancy’s sake.

2.) Know how Thyself best processes information

I didn’t find this out till nearly 9 years after the fact, but knowing how I studied would have saved me a lot of grief killing myself attempting to memorize stuff.

Lets take me for example – I learned that I was an ISTP; among other things I realized how I best studied. Nowadays before important tests I would exercise for an hour – mainly cardio since the brain requires blood in order to function properly. An example of this would be while in middle school my grades in 8th grade skyrocketed from a 2.5 to a 3.8 since I had gone onto the cross-country (long distance running) team. Looking back, I should have utilized this “secret” of mine more often.

While reading blocks of texts – for example in history readings, I discovered I was a big user of “self notes” – ideas of my own that connected one part of the text to another that I would write on the page itself. I was also an extensive user of the highlighter and pencil to underline concepts.

Knowing what makes you tick really does do wonders to how you best absorb information. Everyone reading this knows of those students – envied by legions of students – who ever studied yet were able to score straight As on assignments – compared to those who studied their asses off only to get Bs (at the most). Even those who studied their asses off and got As had to put in effort.

It could be a case of talent and not working vs. hard work. But with that situation, I will state the best way to study is always talent + hard work = best combination.

However all in all, these were simply adaptations – delays to the automatic annoyance that I had towards formal schooling environments.

The Lesson?

Know thyself, take stock in yourself, reflect on the periods of where, how, when, and with whom did your academic genius come alive. As someone is nearing their 30s, I only wished that I knew this information sooner. But hell, better late than never. I’ll let the great Calvin have the last word.

Calvin and Hobbes Schooling


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