There are many expectations set for college and university students when they enter the new academic year: good grades, satisfaction from learning, and a little bit more time for having fun. However, what to do when these expectations are not met? What if the grades are below your actual capabilities, and you do not get that much satisfaction from learning? This is a common challenge experienced by many students during the year, especially when there is no time to step out from studying.

There are many ways in which you can systematically improve your academic performance, and enhance your cognitive skills in the process! Let’s review some good ones:

Action 1: Find your motivation.

Do you have something in your life that has always motivated you to work hard on your studies? Whether it is being the best in class or you were rewarded with something upon graduation, you will need to invest a fair amount of time and effort now that you’re immersed in higher education. Think of your new life in college and how worthwhile it is to you and your future, and then set some realistic goals. An example of a realistic goal is ‘to get A’s in two or more courses’. Start with something small, and work your way back to the top. Make sure that the motivation you found in yourself will get you through the time you need, even if it means a whole academic year. Have a look at these
ways that help students to stay motivated, as described by Sengage Learning Blog.

Action 2: Learn how to cope with stress.

Stress in college is an inevitable phenomenon that will need to be dealt with in a way that prevents it from ruining your progress. It may quickly demotivate you to stop working towards your goal, and reduce the quality of your overall learning experience. To avoid this outcome, you need to find ways that help you to deal with stress, such as taking a walk in nature, going out with a friend, seeking peer support, or journaling your daily activities.

Action 3: Talk to your professors.

Professors are there to help students, and they can do it more effectively than class lecturers or anybody else. If you show an effort to get better at their class, but still need a little bit of help to get those A’s, feel free to seek the guidance from them. Having a conversation about scheduling a consultation during the professor’s working hours is a great start because it shows them that you are willing to apply an extra effort to master their subject. Moreover, a consultation gives you the opportunity to obtain more information about advancing your knowledge, solving specific problems, and finding alternative literature on the subject or course.

Action 4: Take part in extracurricular activities.

Being involved in extracurricular activities has two major benefits for you. First, it teaches you commitment and skills that you can apply to your studies, since being a member of these groups generally requires you to be there and show up prepared. Second, it can help you develop better time management skills because you are forced to balance your studies and these activities in your schedule. Moreover, if you join a group that really interests you, say, an athletic club, you will get a little bit more satisfaction from being there, as well.

Action 6: Improve cognitive skills with physical exercises.

Physical exercises are known to enhance cognitive skills, as
many scholar studies have found. To be successful in college and in your future career, you need to have good control of your cognitive processes, which can be improved from exercise. Specifically, scientists say that exercise contributes to more effective goal setting, self-monitoring, self-control, memory, goal-focused behavior, attention, and use of strategies. For example, some companies have their employees take fitness breaks at least once a day to enhance their health and as a result, improve work performance. One study found that an aerobic running program enhanced the performance of a group of students in creative thinking tasks, and contributed to overall academic performance when compared with the control group. Take advantage of this knowledge by getting involved in a physical exercise group or club, or perform exercises by yourself, such as a daily morning run.

Action 7: Ask a friend to monitor your performance.

Holding yourself accountable
for your academic performance in college is a good idea, but having another person monitor your progress as well usually leads to to studying better. Find a friend who would be willing to review your performance, and ask him or her if they are willing to do this regularly. Agree on the action that should be taken when you underperform to ensure that something motivates you to stick to the schedule. As a result, you will develop responsibility skills–which will be useful for your future career, as well!

Over to you!

Let’s be honest: improving academic performance and enhancing your cognitive skills is a complex task that requires commitment, skill, effort, time, and motivation. Use these tips to make sure your road to success is easier and more fun.