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How To Get An ‘A’ In College

December 12, 2006

Washington Post writer Jay Matthews offered the following top-10 tips on getting an ‘A’ in college courses:

1. Go to class and take notes yourself;
2. Don’t major in engineering;
3. Make a big event out of your most-feared academic tasks;
4. Speak to your professors frequently;
5. Don’t shy from courses with lots of papers;
6. Study in an isolated place as early in the day as you can, and do a five- to 10-minute break every hour;
7. Use section meetings for more than getting to know attractive classmates;
8. Don’t do all of your reading;
9. Before you start work on a paper, do the analysis in your head;
10. Let experts look at drafts of a major paper.

Each tip is explained further in Matthews’ piece. Check it out.

I found myself in surprising agreement with these tips, even number 8 – with a caveat. My addendum to rule 8 is this: If you really want to learn in college – and not just get an ‘A’ – then number 8 is the one rule you cannot, under any circumstances, follow. Learning necessarily involves a love for reading. Of course college coursework does not foster a love for reading; reading is primarily utilitarian in higher education. Even my graduate coursework in history made reading a chore – something to be done viciously, hunting like Hemingway in Africa for a thesis and critiquing every term and argument. This is why most have to wait until their post-university days to rediscover the joy of reading and learning. – TL

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