Getting Good Grades

iStudent Blog

xmas_good_grades.jpgPublished: December 27, 2017

Disappointed with your grades? Get advice from your peers and professors for boosting your GPA.

For those of you who completed your SOTEs evaluations on time, you can access your final grades for fall now. If not, you’ll have access starting December 30th.

We’d all love to get straight As and if that’s you, share your advice in the comments below! Did you know you need to get at least a B in your core courses (INFO 200, 202, 203 and 204) and a minimum of a C in all other electives in order to graduate? I’ve compiled some practical tips for getting the grades of your dreams.

Top Three Tips
I asked Professors Shelly Buchanan, Vicki Steiner and Alicia Hammond for their thoughts on how to get the best grades. I’m happy to share with you their top tips for success:

1. Turn your work in on time:

  • Avoid losing points on your assignment and;
  • Avoid losing the opportunity to submit the assignment altogether.

2. Connect with your classmates:

  • Maximize collaborative work opportunities.
  • Seek peer feedback on works in progress.
  • Establish and actively engage in a professional learning community/network.

3. Be an active participant:

  • In discussion board posts, write substantive answers that make use of assigned readings. Demonstrate your ability to apply what you have learned in other contexts.
  • View all lectures and when offered, attend voluntary synchronous class meetings. If you are unable to attend, make sure you view all recordings.
  • Check Canvas daily for important communications.

It makes sense that the more engaged you are, the better you will perform. Professor Buchanan recommends that students “immerse themselves in a range of related learning experiences[...]to see connections between field-related ideas, practices, platforms, strategies and voices.”

More Helpful Advice
Here’s some more advice on reaching your grade potential from the three iSchool professors:

  • Professor Buchanan recommends using Refworks for organizing your research. Here’s a video tutorial for how to use it.
  • Read related literature beyond the required reading, including popular and scholarly works.
  • Study assignment instructions to ensure you answer all questions presented.
  • Carefully proofread your work.
  • Ask questions. Professor Steiner shared, “most instructors offer office hours—and we love when students make good use of them!”

In her closing thoughts, Professor Steiner stated, “believe in yourself. You were admitted to graduate school based on your history of academic achievements. Have confidence in your abilities; and have fun! One of the best things about being a student is having the opportunity to explore new areas of study.”

I also reached out to my classmate Zelida Keo-Trang. As both a student and Adjunct Professor, I knew she would have a unique perspective. Zelida suggested setting aside time each day to do school work. Her advice for staying on task is to follow the 25 minute rule, which is to work on a task for at least 25 minutes before giving up or moving on. She also recommended making good use of the examples of previous students’ work, but not to follow them blindly.

Further Resources
Make sure you know what resources are available and use them when needed. The iSchool offers writing support and a list of resources for APA style. It’s also vital you know your way around King Library; you can do an orientation (or refresher) if needed and check out the LibGuide for MLIS courses. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Ann Agee, King Library liaison for the iSchool at or 408-808-2033.

It Pays to Get As
So why bother getting good grades when you can technically graduate with a handful of Bs and Cs? There are quite a few reasons to aim high and go for the best grade you can get. First of all, you’ll probably learn more and get the most out of your time spent as a student (you are paying for it after all). This is a big one: your professors will be more willing to serve as a reference for you. Your GPA can be used to qualify you for all kinds of things such as entry into other degree courses or scholarships. It will definitely look good on your resume and will help you get noticed by recruiters. And at the end of the day, no one can take that accomplishment away from you. Good luck and I’ll see you in the new year!


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