How to Fix Your College GPA

Like it or not, your GPA matters.

If your career prospects are suffering due to a low GPA you need to make a conscious decision to commit to getting the number up. Positive change can be painful but worth it.

Here’s how you should approach it.

  1. Set a Goal

The degree to which you can change your GPA will depend on how far along you are in your college career. If you’re an underclassmen, you’ll obviously have more time to improve. Upperclassmen will have less ability to change the number but many employers like to see a GPA that trended upward over the years. The “late bloomer” narrative is something that some companies buy into if the numbers corroborate.

To start, you need to set a realistic goal for your GPA. Setting goals is an art. Set it too low and you’ll be selling yourself short. Setting it too high might be unrealistic and set yourself up for frustration when you inevitably fail to reach it. A “good” GPA will depend on your school+major but you should generally be shooting for a 3.5+.

2. Build New Habits

Once you’ve decided on a number, you want to pick up new habits that allow you to make it a reality.

I’d start with trying to figure out the root cause of your low GPA.

Here are some common culprits:

  1. Too much time socializing and partying
  2. Drug and alcohol abuse(facilitated by #1)
  3. Procrastination
  4. Lack of Sleep
  5. Lack of motivation
  6. Prioritizing extracurriculars over classes

These manifest in:

  1. Missing class
  2. Late and bad assignments
  3. Missing office hours
  4. Bad communication with professors
  5. Haphazard system for choosing classes
  6. Low energy and reduced sphere of influence

Once you’ve identified the root causes of your low GPA. You can start building habits that result in positive change.

You want certain behaviors to become pre-programmed into your daily routine.

Here are some habits that I’ve seen work in the past.

1. Daily Exercise

2. Consistent bedtime

3. Daily meditation

4. Learning to say no to your friends

5. Sticking to a study schedule

Most college students probably understand that picking up these habits will help them. Fewer understand how to actually integrate these habits into their lives and make them stick.

I’ve done some research into habit formation and came across the research and methodologies of B.G. Fogg ,a psychologist and researcher at Stanford University who has studied behavior change for more than 20 years.

He developed the Fogg Method which consists of three simple steps:

  1. Identify your desired outcome.

You’ve already done this by deciding that you want to raise your GPA to a certain level.

2. Brainstorm small, manageable behaviors, Fogg calls them “tiny habits” that will help you achieve your goal.

For example, if you want to drink more water, make it a rule that you must always have water on your desk. If you want to go to sleep earlier, make it a rule that you have to turn off all lights in your room by 10 PM.

3. The third step is to find a habit that you already have, and combine it with a habit you want to pick up.

If you want to learn to say no to your friends. Make it a habit that every time you say no to them you will also give them a compliment. This way you package something that feels emotionally difficult(saying no) with something that should be emotionally rewarding(bonding with your friend and making them feel nice).

By breaking down habit formation into tiny steps and packaging them with things we already do, you’ll have a manageable framework for building daily habits that put you on a path to success.

Tips and Tricks

Habit formation can be a gradual process.

Here are some “college life hacks” that should improve your GPA that don’t require as much time soul-searching.

  1. Spend more time thinking about your schedule and classes

Some people just want to learn as much as possible in college because they want “personal growth”. These students often choose classes without thinking about the implications for their GPA. While this is an admirable sentiment, having a low GPA can close doors that limit future personal growth. So you want to make sure that you’re taking classes that will allow you to earn a high grade. Do some research on classes/professors that have a reputation for having high grade inflation. Talk to older students in your major, many of them will be happy to offer advice. Your transcript will thank you.

2. Learn to round your GPA properly

If you’re still listing your 3.5 GPA as 3.45 on your resume, you’re probably hurting your chances of landing interviews. It’s acceptable practice to round to the nearest tenth. One exception: It’s not ok to round a 3.96 to a 4.00 but that’s probably not something that the readers of this article will have to think about .

3. Use transfer credits wisely

Some schools allow you to transfer credits from other accredited institutions. This can be an easy way to add a few A’s to your transcript. Freshman/Sophomore study abroad programs typically give out a bunch of A’s so that might be something to look into.

4. Be more selfish

College is probably the last stage of your life that is 100% focused on your personal growth and life trajectory. You’ll find that once you enter the workforce, you’ll spend a lot of time helping other people. College is a time where you can seriously help your future self out. Be selfish.

5. Make new friends

If you have a low GPA it might be because you’re hanging out with the wrong people. Try and categorize your friends into “weekday friends” and “weekend friends” and know when to interact with each group. By surrounding yourself with people that are smarter and more diligent than yourself, you’ll naturally start to absorb some of their habits and ideas.

We hope this guide was useful. Remember, it’s never too late for change.

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