Tutor Tidbits: Keeping the grade point average up

Thomas Ketley

Contributing Writer

We’ve all been there: it’s 8 a.m. on a Monday morning and your alarm is going off for that dreaded Gen Ed class you have at 9 a.m. You begin to re-evaluate your entire decision to ever choose that class at such a horrendous hour. However, it need not be all doom and gloom. Here are some tips to getting through these classes, and even having them boost your GPA instead of hinder it.

Firstly, pick a class that you actually have at least a slight interest in. This may seem like an impossible prospect when you look through some of the lists of classes to choose from. Course descriptions can sometimes offer some help, however. A major resource I have found useful is speaking to upper classmen about what classes they took. Ask them about the teachers as well. We all have different learning styles and we all suit different teachers better.

Secondly, take them at a time that suits you. Most lower level Gen Ed classes are offered at a range of different times so don’t pick one at 8am if you know you are prone to pulling the odd ‘sickie’ and not turning up to it. Most teachers offer up to 10% just to show up which, in my opinion, are 10 free points towards your final grade.

This brings me onto my next point about participation. Being a reasonably shy person, class participation was the bane of my life for my first semester. I’ve sat there countless times knowing the insultingly obvious question the teacher had asked yet remaining silent and waiting for the usual suspects to raise their hands. Mid-term grades came out lower than I expected, I confront the teacher and am hit with the same response “Well have you participated much?” For those who crumble as miserably as I do in exams, participation points are key to keeping the grade up. You don’t lose marks for getting it wrong, maybe a short-lived 5 seconds of embarrassment at most, but teachers get to know you better and are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt if they are unsure which grade to give you at the end of the semester.

Finally, not all teachers will agree with me on this, but try to take these classes with a friend. I am not recommending you get your whole squad to take the same class as this will clearly lead to problems. However, taking classes with a friend gives you a little more confidence to participate and it usually helps me concentrate more as well, making them a little more bearable.

Unfortunately, these mandatory classes are not going anywhere, so you might as well enjoy them as much as possible and you may even end up finding something you are really interested in and want to learn more about.

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