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Ready, Set, CRAM: How to Survive the Summer Semester with Your GPA Intact


It’s July, and the summer semester is nearly over. You can see the finish line in the distance, and yet, you can already feel the mental cramps forming in your brain. You’re exhausted and becoming unglued. The pace of the summer schedule is beginning to wear you down and lately the idea of skipping a class or two and just getting the notes is gradually becoming more enticing. Heck, you’ve gone to every class so far, you’ve done the work, studied for the tests, etc.—the beginning of the semester is always the easiest isn’t it? And who’s to say you haven’t earned a break, a day to stay inside the house and catch up on Game of Thrones and Call of Duty. You deserve a break. Right?


Sorry to inform you, but we here at OmegaFiare not going to be your enablers. In fact, we’d like you to think of us as your guardians. And though that title may not grant us any of the legal rights of custody and guardianship, like a hand-knitted sweater from your grandma, we’ve got your back. When it comes to finishing out that summer semester, it’s a tough game. The pace of the summer schedule is lightning fast and it’s easy to get fatigued. You want to take a break, but in truth, the semester is a sprint and a marathon at the same time. Whether you slouch in the beginning or the end, it’s all coming off the top.

So, what can you do?

You can turn off Westworld, sit up, and allow us to pull you up by your bootstraps, cause whether you like it or not, we’re here to learn you something. This is How to Survive the Summer Semester with Your GPA Intact.

We’ll start here…

5. Build a Relationship with Your Teacher

Ready, Set, CRAM: How to Survive the Summer Semester with Your GPA Intact

The origin of the teacher’s pet is a storied one. In most cases this relationship manifests through the ambition of a young student looking to gain an ally in their instructor. In the case of a few high-school students, student interest in a teacher or professor has developed into an illicit—but still illegal—love affair. Let’s focus on the former. In all seriousness, you need to be as good of friends with your professor as possible. Why? Because your grade is in their hands. On a practical side, a close relationship with your professor will keep you more involved with the class and therefore make you a better student. You’ll know what’s on the test, when assignments are due, and you’ll have the comfort of familiarity to ask questions when a concept is confusing.

On the other side, teachers are human. And if you’ve been grinding things out the entire semester and are .5% away from the difference between an “A” and an “A-”, a close relationship with your professor may be enough to sway things in your favor.

4. Check Your Syllabus to Stay Ahead

Ready, Set, CRAM: How to Survive the Summer Semester with Your GPA Intact

This suggestion may seem obvious, but unfortunately, after the first week, few students go back and really review their syllabus. The syllabus is so important—important enough for your professor to dedicate an entire class to and make you sign—because it’s literally a guideline of the rules for the class, the grading scale, and most importantly, upcoming assignments. The latter is invaluable to allowing you to stay organized (more on that later) and keeping track of upcoming assignments. Although few students like to work ahead of schedule, the syllabus at least gives you the option. So take advantage, put in the extra work, and give yourself some breathing room.

3. Keep Organized and Break Your Tasks into Chunks

Ready, Set, CRAM: How to Survive the Summer Semester with Your GPA Intact

In formal learning there exists a technique called “chunking.” This technique is how it sounds. It’s the process of taking a large swath of information and breaking it down into smaller more bite-sized chunks.

Here’s an example: In three days you’ve got to read a 50-page chapter (which can feel like 200 pages if you’re reading from a textbook). Your first instinct is to lament on how much work that is and immediately procrastinate and postpone it until the deadline becomes so urgent, you either do it or you fail.

The problem with that hypothetical is the perspective of seeing the whole rather than each individual page. And that’s where the importance of planning and time comes in. Let’s say that you had a week to read the same 50 pages. Rather than waiting and procrastinating with the idea that you’ve “got a little time before it’s due,” essentially hiking it over to your future self, take those seven days to read 7-10 pages a day. Yeah, it may take longer overall than if you just pulled an all-nighter and knocked it all out at once, but you’ll be much less stressed knowing that you could work on it little by little at your own pace.

2. Read the Book and Take Good Notes

Ready, Set, CRAM: How to Survive the Summer Semester with Your GPA Intact

This tip may sound like the simplest, most basic college study suggestion ever recorded, but you’d be surprised how often people don’t do it—or at the very least, start it that way and then stop. In most cases you’ll begin the semester on high. You’re knocking out assignments, going to every class and reading the book to the letter. And of course you are; within the first 2-4 weeks of the class, everything is easy, it’s all basic concepts. However, typically after the first exam--where the difficulty of the material begins to pick-up--that’s when you begin to slow down. It’s around this point that you stop reading the book altogether. Instead you just go to class and take notes of the PowerPoint. But let’s be serious, the PowerPoint is just a condensed form of the material, and come test-time it’s often lacking.

Our advice?

Read the textbook like a novel.

Seriously. And take notes in it. Whether you plan to return it, you rented it, whatever, take notes while you’re reading to emphasize the content that you’re learning. Your future self will thank you when the final comes around.

1. Take the Class Seriously and Really Try to Learn the Material

Ready, Set, CRAM: How to Survive the Summer Semester with Your GPA Intact

Our final point is one of perseverance and hope. The typical route of the student is one of optimism. You picked your class schedule not just because it was a requirement for your degree, but because you had a genuine interest in learning what the class promised to teach. Whether it was Spanish I or Intro to Computer Design, the point is that when you enrolled in the class, you wanted to learn about the subject; you wanted to deepen your knowledge base and grow.

And this is a noble pursuit. In truth, given the cost of college tuition, it should be the goal of every student to extract as much practical knowledge out of their education as possible.

So, what’s our point?

Well if the heading of this entry isn’t clear, we’re advocating that you continue with the same optimism and passion you had when you began the class. Yes, it may be different (more boring) than you originally intended, but trust us, if someone is passionate enough to teach the class—and get paid for it—there’s useful information there. At the very least, there’s a chance to gain a new perspective.

So look at every test like a true opportunity to test your knowledge in the field. It’s not just a grade. Look at every homework assignment as a practice of the information you’ve picked up. And keep that passion for education growing.

That mindset will do wonders for your grade and life.

Dragging through the summer schedule? Let us know how it’s going for you in the comments below.


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