You can enjoy life while still studying hard.

College can be awesome. It can be inspiring. It can be fun.

High school may have sucked but college is different. You’re given the opportunity to make decisions for yourself and the result can be extraordinary.

It can be a nerve-wrecking time but it usually doesn’t have to be. You’re being given an opportunity to improve your life dramatically. Virtually every mistake you can make related to college is correctable. It’s a low risk environment.

The costs may be high and the professors may be tough but millions of students successfully take them on every year. On top of that, there are people all around you that are willing to help.

Here are 5 random things you should be thinking about:

1. You can get straight-A’s without sacrificing the really important things.

You can look down at your scores and be pleasantly surprised every time. You can probably score near the top of your class with dramatically less effort than the average student. The average student barely even cares about their grades. They show up because they “have to.” Sure… they’ll complain about their grades but given the choice between changing it and doing something else. They pick something else. You’re not an average student.

How do I know you’re not an average student?

For one thing, you’re reading this. You’re committed enough to improving your grades that you’ve read past the headings to understand the meaning of this article. Believe it or not, most people coming to an article like this don’t. You care about your future so much that you’re willing to work to improve it. You’re not average.

You may look like an average student but with a few small changes in strategy you could dominate in your classes. I made this transition myself. You can make only a few small changes and the big positive changes will follow.

Successful students are often the ones ignoring the recommended strategies. They discover their strategies on their own.

2. You’ve probably been taught the wrong way to succeed.

The number one challenge to creating the future you want is forgetting all the wrong things you’ve been taught.

If you’ve ever discussed wanting to improve your grades with someone, you’ve probably been given this advice: work harder! Naturally, that advice catches nobody off-guard. No one is thinking, “WOW! Working harder!? Why hasn’t anyone told me that before!?” Duh. Right?

Of course, you can succeed using hard work but most students use it as an excuse to grind themselves into the ground. Then, when they’re useless mush too unmotivated to care about their grades, they feel better for a while.

Hard work can also distract you from intelligent work.

It’s no wonder students struggle to increase their motivation.

For every bit of good advice the average student is given, they’re given piles of useless crap to sort through. It’s not easy.

You can turn any situation around as long as you care enough.

3. Your success is as inevitable as you make it.

The number one cause of failure is giving up.

I know you’ve struggled with getting things done in the past. You’ve probably done your share of procrastination. You’ve probably had a desperate cram session or two. You may have even failed a couple times. That’s okay.

Why is it okay?

Because failure won’t stop you.

If you’re still showing up then you still can do it. The fundamental concern for all college students is giving up. If you give up then you fail. If you keep taking the opportunities you get then you WILL succeed.

And what about your grades along the way?

Is your goal to get good grades or get into a good career?

In my experience, the best jobs don’t always go to the highest scoring students. The highest scoring students may get the highest starting pay but they end up in bureaucratic environment surrounded by other hyper competitive people. Naturally, few last long in that environment.

The smartest students aren’t always the one’s with perfect scores. They’re usually the ones playing the game consciously. If they care about their grades then, yes, their grades will look amazing. They know how to play the game of school. They understand the system.

The advancement potential is unlimited when you understand the system. This site might look like it’s about improving your grades but fundamentally, it’s about becoming a student of life. Your grades are just one manifestation of this.

Learn to get good grades. Through those same strategies, you can learn to get higher pay. You can learn to get fit. You can learn to be happier. Success dominoes in system. One success becomes a pattern of success.

Costs have been going up for decades and employment opportunities aren’t going up nearly as fast. You need to be prepared to face these challenges.

4. The cost is ridiculous! This is what you should do about it…

You probably know this already. College costs are going up faster than ever while the objective value of college is going down faster than ever. Plenty of economists have run calculations suggesting it’s smarter to invest money than go to college. Here are some reasons that probably shouldn’t matter to you:

  • You can’t get student loans to invest in the stock market.

Are you going to need loans to pay for college? Then you can still probably end up better off. If you had the money for college then it might be smarter to invest that money.

You can get student loans to invest in your career. In investing terms, you’re using leverage to increase your earning potential. College certainly comes with some risks but most of those risks are under your control. The market can’t collapse and eliminate the value of the things you’ve learned.

If you continue to make smart decisions then almost everything is under your control.

  • This doesn’t apply well to most career oriented fields

If you’re in a STEM field then this doesn’t apply to you.

If you’re in a very career oriented degree program then it doesn’t apply to you. (Business, marketing, accounting, etc.)

If you already have a career in the field you’re going to school in (and looking for advancement) then it probably doesn’t apply for you.

  • And for the rest of us…

Yea… Naturally, an economist can’t calculate the value of an art or an english lit degree. That’s why the whole idea of starving artist exists. As standard practice, I wouldn’t encourage someone in this direction but here is why I think you’ll be fine:

You’re still not average.

You know the challenges you’re going to face. The average person in your field might be a “starving artist” or a overqualified barista but that’s not you. You’ve read this far into this article. You have your head on straight. You can make just about any career work.

Just be prepared to face the challenges and you’ll beat the average.

College is difficult enough without having bad teachers kill your motivation.

5. Never take a class from a bad teacher.

Having a good teacher can change everything.

I’ve turned hating a subject into loving a subject based on the inspiration of a single teacher. These kinds of teachers go beyond lecturing information and can completely transform the way a student thinks about the subject.

Having a bad teacher can, unfortunately, do the same.

A bad teacher can ruin your progress for years. One bad teacher in high school can plague you all the way through college. One bad teacher in college can destroy your motivation for a career in the field. There is no good reason to take the risk.

Never take classes from bad teachers. (It just encourages them to continue sucking.)

Thousands of students follow Smart Student Secrets because academia is hard. It doesn’t have to be so hard if you have the tools to manage it. Those are the tools we offer. Professors link here regularly because this is the kind of advice they wish they could give you. You can even join our members-only area, currently, for free and access our more advanced articles.

College can be difficult but it can also be an amazing positive change in your life. It can be an investment that feels like the best time in your life.

Image Sources: US Air Force, UC Davis College of Engineering, Uebersax, decltype, Albert Herring

5 Random Things You Should Think About Before Going To College

Study better immediately and not 6 months from now when the stars are all aligning

T had her head down staring at her grade. She’d kind of curled up the edges of the paper a little to casually hide the teacher’s red pen from the people in the chairs next to her. It was another disappointing grade and she just ran out of ideas.

So that afternoon, after class, she went up to the teacher and asked for some advice.

She got an answer – work hard. Study more. She politely responded but felt a little disappointed because she was sure that was what she was already doing.

But… she tried harder.

And a month later, she was staring back down at the same disappointing grade on her paper…

She thought she’d talk to the teacher and clarify how hard she was working. Then ask for advice.

The teacher responded that ‘you shouldn’t expect results so fast. It takes time.’


I agree with that teacher in some sense.

But in another sense, I want to throw him off a bridge. (Not a mortal fall. Just a scary, think-twice before saying that stupid thing again fall.)

Good studying shows instant results. NOW! Not 6 months from now. – for most classes… math has some complications but more than a month is too long to wait.

Maybe not in your final grade. But on the single assignment and test grades – results should be showing up.

If not, change something. (Even if it’s something small.)

To take it farther –

For some students, the second they stop studying using a Smart Student Secrets/Active Recall strategy, they can instantly feel the difference in knowledge. Instead of ending their study session worried, they end the session with confidence.

Results aren’t something that you should wait 6 months for.

You shouldn’t have to wait until everything goes perfect.

Be impatient.

Get results.

Are you ready for results?

That’s what I teach.

I’ll also send you some awesome freebies.

Write your email in the box. Check the confirmation you want emails. Confirm your email. And see for yourself.

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4 thoughts on “5 Random Things You Should Think About Before Going To College

  • July 24, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    This is a great article. It is a great point about success being up to you. Some risks in life require luck. College is the kind of risk that requires discipline.

    • July 24, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Thanks for the comment!

      That’s a great way to explain it.

  • July 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Never EVER take classes from bad teachers!


    I just thought that needed more emphasis. Why waste your tuition on dinosaurs that can tear your head off way better than teach.

    I had one teacher that would literally lie in front of the whole class to sound smart. I raised my hand and offered a correction. This guy completely denies I’m correct. Then, at the end of class I brought up my source to him. Then he completely denied saying I was wrong. Where is this guy’s head?

    Life is too short.

    • July 24, 2017 at 4:50 pm


      He sounds like a tool.

      I totally agree with the emphasis. I’d even consider adding another EVER:

      Never EVER EVER take classes from bad teachers.


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