Strategies to Boost Your GPA

Insights Related to Raising your GPA

Whether you just want to improve your overall GPA or if you are on academic probation, the following resources may be helpful.

  1. Predict your GPA using the Term Calculator on Degreeworks at dw.appstate.edu
  2. *If you are repeating any classes, you might find this excel sheet helpful instead. Please be aware that using one of your four repeats to replace a failing grade is one of the quickest ways to improve your GPA--as long as you do well the second time you take the course. If you cannot use Excel, you can do the calculations by hand by following the steps on this handout.
  3. Reminder: it is essential to meet with your academic advisor in a timely way to ensure you are making the best choices as you register for courses, as well as calculating your GPA and assessing the best way to use repeats and drops.
  4. Reflect on what obstacles have prevented you from achieving higher grades thus far. This worksheet may help.
  5. If you are on probation, please be sure to read over this website developed by the Registrar's Office. It can be very helpful. https://registrar.appstate.edu/resources/policies/academic-policies/academic-probation-and-suspension
  6. Create a plan of action. This worksheet may be helpful.
  7. Take full advantage of the resources offered by the Student Learning Center, including free tutoring and study strategy support.

Money Management

Money worries often interfere with academic success. Certain offices on campus can be most helpful to you in acquiring funds to support your studies. Most students know about the Financial Aid office, but just in case, here is their website: http://financialaid.appstate.edu/

On the other hand, students are not always aware that there is an office on campus designed to help you find part-time jobs: Student employment at http://studentemployment.appstate.edu/

This website may also be helpful:

An additional challenge can be the need to be assertive, with others or yourself. Be honest about what you can afford. Also, be clear with yourself that you are investing now in a college education, which may help in the long term, not only to expand options for yourselves but also to help others.

Stress Management

Managing your stress is often a critical strategy to improve your success overall. A few strategies that may help:

1) Make and honor time set aside to exercise.

You may not have time for 3-hour workouts, but even 30 minutes a day could make a significant difference. Find something you enjoy doing. If you cannot do what you think would be "perfect," find some small way to add fitness into your day--walk extra steps, do stretches in your room. Sneak it in however you can.

The campus offers a wonderful assortment of free fitness classes, intermural sports, and workout centers. Find out more at urec.appstate.edu.

2) Make healthy eating choices.

Nutrition seems to be an invisible force, affecting us all far more than we realize. Pay attention to what you are eating. Eat more fruits and vegetables, and less of the foods that are less healthy. Moderation is key.

Take advantage of nutrition counseling offered to undergraduates at wellness.appstate.edu.

3) Get enough sleep.

One strategy that might help a great deal is to aim to stick to regular bedtimes and waking times. Some students get up early on days they have early classes, but then sleep very late on other days, and this kind of schedule can really make it challenging to be alert and productive. Be realistic, but aim for consistency.

If you face consistent sleep challenges--that is, you try to go to sleep but can't-- take this challenge very seriously. Take advantage of health services and counseling services on campus to explore what might help. Be patient, but be committed to finding a way to get the rest you need.

The Wellness Center currently lists sleep counseling as a service: wellness.appstate.edu

4) Take ten slow, deep breaths several times every day.

Get in the habit of breathing deeply. This will clear your head to face whatever challenges lie ahead. And whenever you can tell you are feeling stressed, such as before a test or presentation, take ten deep breaths.

The Wellness Center offers meditation and mindfulness as services. wellness.appstate.edu

5) Save a little time to make friends or chat with friends.

While some students have to learn to set limits on socializing, others need to make this more of a priority. One strategy that might save time and add a lift to your day is to arrange to eat meals with friends. And if you want to make new friends, consider joining a club or student organization. Find out more about these options at http://campusactivities.appstate.edu/

6) Talk to someone.

Counseling on campus is a wonderful resource to aid in managing stress, especially if you find some of the above strategies are not helping. Keep in mind that counseling is a process that takes time, rather than a quick fix. Find out more at http://counseling.appstate.edu/

Exploring majors

Finding the right major for you can greatly boost your success academically. Students who are undecided, or who find they are not happy in the major they had chosen, often struggle to stay motivated in their classes. While I strongly believe that savvy students find some kind of personal value in any class they take and that college should be a place to expand horizons rather than limit yourself (that is--you are not here simply to train for a job), I have observed how much it helps students to use their majors as a means to make connections and find value in all of their classes. You also gain confidence as you dig a little more in-depth into a field that interests you, and you are more likely to form positive relationships with your faculty members.

If you are undecided or wish to find a new major, take advantage of all the resources at the Career Exploration Office (formerly known as Peer Career). http://careers.appstate.edu/

To find out more about requirements for a major, meet with a general advisor advising.appstate.edu or with someone in the major department.

Please note that students who have already declared their majors but wish to change their majors can return to the general advising center for assistance.

This website might also be helpful: http://www.appstate.edu/academics/majors/

It can be tough to find the right fit, and the hardest part is that there are no right answers. You will have to carve out a plan that makes sense for who you are, what most interests you academically and professionally, and what you feel most comfortable claiming as your major. So if this has been an obstacle for you, please know that you are not alone. But the exploration and discovery process may be very rewarding in the end, so hang in there.

Another resource that may provide insights to a range of campus issues is the First Year Seminar Blog at http://thisblogisnotrequired.wordpress.com/

Embrace a growth mindset

Successful people embrace what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset, focusing on the actions they can take to constantly improve rather than dwelling on setbacks. This video provides a good overview of this important concept. 

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset