The updated and expanded ultimate guide to how to get your BEST grades in college. - Sara Laughed

How to Get Your Best Grades in College

I want to help you get your best grades in college. But before we get to that, I want to tell you a story.

I’m not naturally intelligent. In middle school, I was a C-student. For my 8th grade math final, I got a D-. I didn’t want to work hard unless the assignment was fun, and I didn’t believe in my own ability to succeed. I kept that attitude up to high school until, about halfway through my first year, something changed.

I realized my teachers didn’t think I was smart. I realized they thought some of the material was beyond me. And I didn’t like it.

So I started to work harder. I began putting in extra hours for homework and studying. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I kept that attitude and effort up until now, eight years later, when I’m studying abroad at Oxford.

I want you to know that no matter where your starting point is, if you want to succeed, you can. I didn’t put this guide together to make myself happy. I did it because I honestly believe that you can do this. If you put in the time and effort, you can and will succeed.

Are you ready?  Good. Then let’s get started!

The rest of this post is available on my college site, College Compass. As of August 2016, all my college help posts and downloadable have been updated and moved there to help you navigate your college years! To read more about this decision, read my announcement.

Read the Rest on College Compass (5)

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  • This is a really thorough guide, one that it’s easy to see took time and thought to put together! So many brand new college students really struggle with the work load–knowing what strategies to use to get the best grades you can get is crucial!

    • Thank you so much Rachel! I really appreciate it!

  • T. Marie

    Sara! I love all of your post that I have read so far. I am getting ready to start college for the first time. I am 29 year old mom of 3 and nervous.. But your post especially about organization & writing an essay have helped calmed the nerves a little bit. 🙂

    • Wow! That sounds really overwhelming, but I am sure you will do an incredible job. If you have gotten this far as a mom, and you are already looking into tips and advice for college, I am sure you can make it. Good luck to you!

  • Amara Abadi

    I have to work my motivation and attitude!

    • That is a weak point for so many of us! I am sure you can do it, though (:

  • priya

    What I can do to improve my communication skills? Since because of that I am lagging in everything .I can’t able to talk with my college mates causally. Something stops me to talk.they are too talented and I am not that much talented then them. So I am alone I won’t talk to anyone.this affects me too much.fear leads to tension that makes me to sit in my home itself.I am very disturbed now.I want to do well in my next year but I am very afraid.i need to come out of it. I want to enjoy my college life like other students. I like to study in abroad. I want to show my talent and I want to improve myself.if these works out I will gat a good job. And if I start some personal development skills i can able to follow it only for one r two days .I need a mentor to guide me. I even have no friends .they say me I am me to come out of it.

    • Hi Priya! Thank you so much for commenting. I got your email and I responded to this comment and your email there. Check your inbox! Warmly, Sara

      • ammy

        Hello Sara , would you guide me to the same problem please? I am very shy and when it comes to having fun at high school Im a fun person but people consider Me to be sober and sophisticated. Help me?!?

        • Hi Ammy! I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling in school with making friends. It is so hard to feel lonely at any stage in life, because most humans love and need friendships to feel fulfilled. The advice I gave to Priya was to try to find any common interests at school with people who seem fun and interesting. Maybe you share an interest in books, or a television show, or a favorite movie. Maybe you both like to cook. Ask about their interests and see if you can find anything in common with them; then talk about that interest and show them your personality, and how fun and interesting you truly are! I wish you the best of luck!

  • Janiah Adams

    Great, detailed post!

    • Thanks so much, Janiah!

  • A wonderfully concise post on organizational skills and positive mindsets that are essential to success, not only in college, but in life. Brava!

    • Thank you very much! I hope it helps someone!

  • Dārta Evelīna Strazdiņa

    Amazing post! Thank you very much, now my motivation and inspiration to study hard to get the best grades is twice bigger! 🙂

  • Kenetth Toledo

    Awesome tips. Very well done!
    I am definitely following your tips. As a college freshman, it is tough to adjust and keep up with school and things outside of it.
    Thank you!

  • Holly at Hope and Mascara

    I’m going into junior year of college and looking to really get myself together and do my absolute best. I often struggle with keeping motivation throughout the semester. I love your blog, but this might be your best post yet. I can’t wait for your eBook! Thank you! 🙂

  • Stefany

    Their tips are wonderful and will be of much use to me. Now thanks to you I’m doubly motivated and believe that I can and I’ll be able to get there. Thank you so much!

  • Menja

    Saw your post on tumblr 🙂
    I think for College this is very pruductive. But I’m still in school, and that’s a kind of different. I cann ot coose my classes (like there is nothing I want to do less than latin and I’m not sure if I can achive anything without having the right motivation) I can’t myke my own notes, I have to take what the teacher writes on the board (If I wouldn’t that would be refusal to work).

    What did you do in Middle/Highschool ?

  • Shelly

    Hello, i am shelly, and i am here to tell you a secrete between my best friend Niki and i.
    Niki and i have been hacking into over 60 guys messages and accounts and even email just to help our friends and ourselves stay our of heart beaks and being played games with.
    She is very good at things like this and we both agreed to let it out to you today This is Niki’s email, she is awesome

  • I love love love this post!!! I am bookmarking it for future reference once exam season rolls around. This taught me that the key to success really is sleep, without a healthy balance you really can’t be very productive. Thanks for the advice. 🙂

  • Tips and tidbits are very much required options for the students to make good score In colleges. There are many students who are struggling in doing the best score and results in the colleges but the stated matters and factors are helpful along with precise in each way. Therefore this is very much imperative and prominent plus contemporary to all.

  • Joanna Buczko

    Sara! Thanks for sharing all this. The idea of Cornell notes is new to me, but I
    find it truly interesting. I googled it a bit, but cannot find this information
    anywhere so I decided to ask you – I wonder how time consuming it is? I can
    imagine that it is, indeed, very time consuming. How much time does it take you
    to prepare such notes for one textbook only? If you could drop a line about it
    that would be great! Thanks much! Joasia

    • Hey Joanna! I do find Cornell notes to be pretty time consuming, which is why I use them as study sheets and not as my everyday notes. A great way to minimize the time I spend on them is to take notes as normal on one side of the page, and then just insert a few questions later (rather than inserting the questions in real-time). This only takes a few minutes per sheet!

      • Joanna Buczko

        Hi Sara! Thanks for this. I am excited to work on my first Cornell note.