How to Succeed in College

For many college students looking to improve their GPA and rise to the top of the class, phrases like go to class regularly and prepare in advance for exams have become stale and familiar.

Many college students genuinely put in the time and effort necessary, but for some reason or another, always seem to fall short of that shiny A.

The all too often overlooked influence the professor has on your final grade is what gives top students that much desired edge.

The truth is that grades in college are not merely a mathematical total of points received/points possible, but have a lot to do with how the professor views you as a student. This is not to say that the mathematical aspect plays no role at all, however.

Think of you percentage grade as merely a ballpark estimate of where your grade stands. The rest is ultimately up to the professor.

Assuming you would like the A, there are a few rules of thumb to consider about how to maximize the intangible effect your professor has on your final grade.


Get to know your professor

At the beginning of the semester, go to office hours and introduce yourself. Tell him/her how interested you are in the course (even if you must lie). Visit office hours regularly during the semester, but don’t over do it.

The goal here is to establish a professional relationship with the professor. If the professor draws a blank when your name comes up posting final grades, it is unlikely that your B+ will come out as an A.

Participate in class

This cannot be overstated. Some students still hold on to the feeling that students who actively participate in class are teacher’s pets or overachievers.

This isn’t high school anymore; no one will make fun of you for being a good student.

Participate in class discussions, do problems on the board in front of the class. Professors will often open the chalkboard for willing students to show the class how to do problems, and this is how they identify their best students.

This is a powerful way to improve your professor’s opinion of you.

Do extra credit problems

This one may seem obvious, but this does more for your grade than a few extra points. It shows the instructor that you are on top of the work and capable of handling more difficult problems. This also makes your professors start to see you as a colleague, rather than a student.

Go into the instructor’s office, and show him/her where you are on an extra credit problem. Even if you don’t have the right answer, you will almost always be given some credit if you demonstrate your understanding. It’s a powerful thing to work problems above the curriculum alongside the instructor.

This is why professors have a hard time giving a student like this anything but an A.

The moral of the story?


Developing a professional relationship with your instructors is the intangible edge that straight-A college students know and use. These tips will start turning your borderline B’s into A’s in no time.