How to Get a 3.5 GPA (or Higher!) in College

Hannah Dudleson / University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma »

College is a hard time in a person’s life, no matter how fun and exciting it can be. Between the stresses of college classes, finding clubs and organizations to join, juggling a social life and social responsibilities, and taking care of your body and your mental health, the load can feel like a lot, and grades can begin to suffer. For me, my grades have always been my highest priority, but it took a lot of trial and error to find a method that worked for me to achieve good grades. 

Your GPA isn’t necessarily about how smart you are or how talented you are at your work, it’s about the time and effort you take to understand and apply what you’re being taught in class. I am convinced that anyone can achieve a high GPA if they truly put their mind to it and employ wise techniques for studying and learning. Below, I have written about three techniques for studying that I have used to keep a high GPA throughout high school and into college at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Get Good Note-Taking Skills

Although this seems like a no-brainer, it is incredibly important. Take meticulous notes in class. If the professor says it, make a note of it somehow. If the professor says to remember the information later, write in all caps or put stars around it. You will be surprised at how often this material is used later, and without making a note of it, you will never be able to find what the professor said. 


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I use a highlighting system with my notes in order to go back to them and find something later. Orange equals the beginning of a new section, yellow equals something I need to remember, and so on. Lastly, remember to always put the date on all the notes you take. This can help you find information when looking back on units that the class has covered.

Use a Planner

Get a planner and actually use it. Using a planner was hard for me until I came to college and started getting lots of assignments all at once. I like to write all my assignments for class on one page and then add them to my calendar when I get home. I have a two-week calendar hanging on my wall and, after each class, I write the assignments down on a day in the next two weeks. This way I don’t just have a list of things to get done, which can be very overwhelming. Every day I can wake up and see exactly what I need to accomplish that day and I don’t miss assignments or projects.

Break Down Large Projects 

When you get a big project, such as a research paper, break it up into small chunks. In high school, my teachers would usually break up our projects into small chunks to turn in. This will not happen in college. In many classes, you’ll just have a finished paper to turn in. Only in some classes might you get lucky enough to have a rough draft assignment before the final paper. 



I write down everything I will need to do, such as research, take a trip to the library, make notecards, and write an outline. I write each step down on a specific date so that I know exactly what to do and when to do it. This way I don’t have to cram at the last minute, and I can always hit my deadline right on time.

Find What Works

These methods may not work for everyone, but a variation of them will help you succeed in college. Get used to writing things down, and get good at breaking large projects into small chunks. You will be amazed at how quickly your grades will begin to rise. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your professors and peers. Happy studying!