If you asked a teacher how you could increase your GPA, what do you think they would say?
I bet you’d expect one of the classic responses:
- Work harder
- Study more
- Don’t zone out in class
- Blah… Blah Blah… Blah Blah
It is a completely pointless question to ask them for that reason. Of course, you can raise your GPA by putting in more effort. If you show up to class and focus you’ll learn more. If you study your textbook for hours a night you’ll do better. If you check your work then you’re bound to improve your grades some.
That sucks. If you wanted to study more then you’d already be doing it. This is one of the reason I think teachers give horrible study advice. Most people don’t want study advice from teachers.
Most people want study advice from slackers that still score high anyway. That’s what this article is going to be about.
A GPA is not a reflection of what you’re learning. It’s not a good estimate of how hard you’re working. There may be some correlation but it’s a weak one. Students that know how to play the game can score high without working hard. Students that don’t know can work hard and still fail.
Now… Before getting into the nitty-gritty details I should say this. I actually believe in putting in a good effort. I just don’t believe in putting in more effort than required. These strategies are the baseline that you should be starting from when you want to bring your GPA up. By studying better (perhaps with the 15MSS) you can bring it up even higher.
Most competitive colleges are filled with students that know how the system works. They’re definitely smart. There is no arguing with that. It’s just they are not necessarily smarter than many students that fail to learn the rules.
Your GPA is important when competing for colleges or jobs. It may not be the only factor but it can quickly disqualify a student from the running. I know everyone likes to pretend that school is 100% about learning more but it’s not true. When competition kicks in, students change their behavior to benefit their GPA (even at the cost of learning less.)
Some common ways that students improve their grades without working harder include:
- Taking easy courses
- Finding cakewalk teachers
- Dropping poor choices
- And countless in class strategies
These strategies don’t need much (or any) extra work. Students need to pick classes. Students need to pick teachers (in high school this is less easy but still possible.) This can result in an improved grade.
Your competition will be using these strategies. Top colleges are getting more competitive than ever. If you want your GPA to be competitive then these strategies will help. You can improve your grades without any extra effort on your part.
How Much Does This Really Matter
Think about your past. Have you ever noticed the difference between an easy teacher and a harder one?
I’ve handed in papers that probably deserved a C (because I knew I had an easy grader) and I still ended up with a 97 on it. This is not a small effect. This may be a bit of an extreme example but imagine the impact that could have on your final grade. If you’re taking classes from 2 or 3 easy teachers then you can be increasing your GPA by 5-10%.
In college, you can gain enough control to take almost all your courses from easy teachers. That can make the GPA increase even more pronounced.
Some teachers are virtually handing out A’s. This is the kind of teacher you want. They can help pad your grade and account for the harder courses you take.
But Colleges (Employers) Will Notice!?
Colleges will notice if you take a bunch of easy classes. That is something you need to be careful about. It makes a difference. I suspect it’s not a huge one, though.
Your higher GPA will knock you farther into the consideration process. If your application gets to the point where they’re looking into the details then you could use something else to push them over the edge. (Or you may sneak in anyway.)
Unless the class is directly related to your future employer, they will not notice. They probably won’t even try to notice.
Sure… they might notice you taking easy classes.
They will never notice you taking classes from easy teachers.
No one has a directory of the easiest teachers in each college or high school. Sure… they can probably find out if they were motivated but they aren’t. They have hundreds or thousands of students competing they need to consider. Whether or not “Mr. Anderson” is an easy grader is the last thing on their mind.
If you’re using in-class strategies then most people would respect you more for it. (Oh… that student knows how to prioritize!)
For some in class strategies read:
Is A GPA Increase Really Worth The Effort?
Studies have suggested that an increase in your GPA correlates well with your future income. Higher GPA = More Income
There may be some truth behind the link. The most competitive colleges can provide a higher return on investment for students. The most consistent way to get into those colleges is with a high GPA.
If you can get better grade you can get more money. If you doubt this then you might want to check out Is An A Worth The Effort?
(Low GPA students shouldn’t worry though. They may not get the prime picks for ROI but there is plenty of high ROI non-competitive colleges.)
Employers regularly screen college graduates based on GPA. A higher GPA correlates with higher wages. It makes sense. When more employers want a student, the student gets paid more.
Studies suggest that one point of GPA represents about a 10% increase in income for a student.
Considering that income goes over decades of a career, that adds up to a serious chunk of change.
If you know how to improve your GPA easily then you might as well be making an hourly wage. It just won’t get paid to you until after you graduate. Delayed gratification can pay well.
Raise Your GPA With Priorities
I realize I’ve pumped out quite a few ideas in this article.
The secret to improving your GPA without spending more time is changing your priorities.
If you’re looking for a quick rundown then these are your top five priorities:
- Select Your Teachers Consciously
- Prioritize Your Work
- Do The Important Work
- Study Better
- Select Your Classes Consciously
Please share this post because it can help you and others get better grades. Those better grades can help you live better.
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How A “Dum” Guy Got Straight A’s
Yes, you heard me right…
When your parents and teachers said to study hard they were wrong.
You need to study SMART! There’s a difference.
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