But Cal Newport knows that real straight-A students don't study harder—they .. Don't be frightened, the system is incredibly lightweight—it's designed to After all, college is supposed to be about intellectual curiosity, making new friends.
I’m big into reading, and since you’re on this page, I’m guessing you like reading at least a little bit as well. This page is an ongoing log of books I find to be awesome or useful.
If you’re looking to create a well-rounded, successful college experience, you can’t go wrong with any of these.
If you're going to college - especially in the U.S. - you need to read this book. I may have graduated with no debt, but the average college graduate these days is coming out of school with around $30,000 of it. Having that amount of debt will limit your options when it comes to jobs, where you can live, etc. This is not how it should be. This is not how it has to be. Debt-Free U will show you how you can go to college and avoid debt - even if your family isn't loaded.
Yep, I put my own book on the list. There might be a bit of hubris involved here, but I'm extremely proud of how this book turned out. Initially, I set out to write a book on how to study efficiently, defeat procrastination, and stay organized - as I wrote, the project became much grander. The final product is a 100+ page book covering 10 different topics that factor into your grades. In addition to the topics I already mentioned, you'll learn how to read textbooks effectively, take better notes, write great papers, eliminate distractions, and more Also, it's completely free.
I love this book like a son. Ok, maybe that's a bit hyperbolic - I'm not cooking dinner for it if it suddenly becomes sentient and tells me it's hungry. But still - this book is absolutely amazing and I'd consider it essential reading for anyone who falls under the category of "human". As it turns out, habits shape much more of our behavior than we realize. The habits we do have largely determine the progress (either good or bad) we make in life. Luckily, the way habits are formed can be understood - which means they can be changed - and The Power of Habit is the best overview of how habits work that I've ever read.
One of my biggest daily struggles is focusing intently on my work - and judging by the hundreds of emails I get from students each month, I'm not alone. Deep Work is by far the best and most effective book I've read on this topic, and it's helped me to become much better at resisting the temptation of distractions and remaining concentrated. This is one of my most highly recommended books.
If you're looking for practical techniques you can use to increase your ability to learn new information effectively, you should read this book. Contrary to what the title would imply, Dr. Barbara Oakley's A Mind for Numbers is applicable to any learning discipline - not just math and science. This book will quickly give you an understanding of how your brain learns and encodes new information, and will also equip you with strategies for learning more while studying less.
No book has helped me more when it has come to getting jobs and internships than this one. In it, author Brad Karsh demystifies the job-hunting process and shows you how to most effectively scout out and land that crucial first job out of college. He goes through writing résumés and cover letters (read: how to make your cover letter not suck) and even provides a fairly large index full of completed examples of each. Other topics covered are interviews - both job-seeking and "informational" - as well as how to impress gatekeepers, how to follow up an interview the right way, and more. Seriously, read this.
Countless teachers, counselors, bloggers, and other people will probably tell you to "follow your passion" - but passion alone isn't going to land you your dream job. Plus, most of us don't even know what our "passion" even is! That's why this book is such a breath of fresh air; Cal Newport counters this "Passion Hypothesis" with what he calls the Craftsman Mindset, which focuses on getting really good at something. Not only will this help you build the career capital you'll need to get hired, but it'll also often lead to true enjoyment in your work.
I firmly believe that a solid foundation of nutrition, exercise, and sleep will help you succeed in college better than any study hack, which is why I recommend this book. Reading it will educate you on how exercise affects your brain, which in turn will give you more mental ammunition that you can use to shoot down excuses when you're feeling lazy or "busy", and don't want to work out. By the way, how much exercise have you gotten today?
Nick Winter is a crazy dude who did a 120-hour workweek, built two successful startups, learned to throw knives, and pledged $7,290 in order to force himself to write this book (and jump out of an airplane). He doesn't really subscribe to the whole, "willpower is a limited resource" ideal - instead, he looks for ways to summon massive amounts of motivation so he can achieve anything. This book is an account of his quest to achieve several crazy goals in a very short amount of time, and it also details his methods for hacking motivation.
It's 12 years old now, but Cal Newport's How to Win at College is still one of the best primers for college success I've ever read - especially when it comes to things beyond your grades. It's a short read (I read it in about four hours), split into 75 "tips" that each take up 1-4 pages. I read this book as a freshman, and it's one of the biggest reasons I was so focused on success in college; the book provides a great foundation for becoming a remarkable student and doesn't weigh you down with idle words.
Whereas How to Win at College is a general, tip-based overview on ways you can become successful in college, this book gets its hands dirty by giving you an in-depth, well thought out method for pulling epic grades in all of your classes. The book is based around that fact that there are many college students who get straight A's, yet don't study for more than a couple hours a day and still have plenty of other things going on in their lives. It lays out effective strategies for note-taking, quizzing yourself, writing papers, and more. If you want to be like one of the aforementioned students, get this book.
I listened to this book during a six-hour drive to a friend's hometown a few years ago, and I honestly think it changed my life. The habits Covey describes here seem obvious at first, but you'll probably notice that you aren't following all of them. I know I wasn't. Take Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood - how many of us actually do that? Before reading this book, I would always think very selfishly in my conversations. Whenever I'd listen to someone else speak, I'd listen - but I'd also be actively formulating my (usually self-serving) response and looking for the perfect moment to throw it in.
I'll come right out and say it; this is hands-down the best business book I've ever read, and probably the best ever published. It's not because the concepts within are revolutionary or any more detailed than those of any other book - it's because this book is so complete. It is absolutely the place to start when learning about business. Every important aspect of business is covered here - selling, accounting, working with others, individual work strategies, business development, and lots of others. Even if you're not a business major, I'd recommend reading this; you'll get a great overview of how business works and, as a result, become much more valuable to any company you work for.
Learning to effectively manage your money should be priority #1 if you haven't done it already. You're most likely in college so you can get a degree and gain access to jobs with greater earning potential; make sure your degree goes as far as it should by learning what to do with the money once you have it. Your Money: The Missing Manualis a fantastic general overview of personal finance, and it'll show you just how to keep those bills in the bank rather than blowing them on random crap.
If you know how the brain works, you'll be better equipped to manage your own and understand the ones contained inside the heads of the people you know and meet. In Brain Rules, John Medina expertly shows us how the brain does things, and lays out 12 rules that form a basis for using that pile of mush more effectively. It's not just an excellent brain book - it's an excellent business book and an excellent college success book as well.
Companies aren't blowing smoke when they list Communication Skills as the #1 desired quality in college grads - and public speaking is a huge part of that. Confessions of a Public Speakeris a great read if you're looking to increase those vital public speaking skills. Berkun goes over lots of related topics, like gaining confidence as well as using certain tools to help you out (like confidence monitors).
I struggle with having too many interests - and I often fall prey to the temptation to try and tackle them all at once. Of course, this doesn't work; it's as if 15 hamsters in one big hamster ball were all trying to run in their own separate directions. What's more useful is to adopt a philosophy of "Less, but better." Greg McKeown's book Essentialism is an excellent guide to doing just that, and the lessons I took from it have helped me to become a much more focused person.
This is the best overall introduction to productivity that I've ever read. Other books that you'll see on this list go deeper on specific topics - such as habits or procrastination - but The Productivity Project does an awesome job at giving you practical tips and advice on pretty much all of them. It's a great starting point for becoming more productive.
When you have a lot of ambitious plans, it can be really easy to stay constantly future-minded and focused on goals. But as Neil Pasricha points out in The Happiness Equation, the goalposts of our goals often move the moment we achieve them - and the constant pursuit of them can leave us unhappy. This book is a great reminder to prioritize happiness - and it does a great job at serving as a practical manual for becoming a happy person while remaining productive.
This is a great is a great follow-up to Your Money: The Missing Manual, and I'd recommend that you save reading this book until you've read the former. Once you have a solid grounding in personal finance, though, you should start taking the next step and get into investing. The book is a great tool to learn how to do that; it goes over the types of investments - Roth IRA's, index funds, common stock, bonds, the works - and gives a good overview of which ones you'll want to utilize based on your goals and lifestyle.
This is the book that got me into lifestyle design - the idea that we don't have to simply graduate and just get a job, but that we are instead free to pursue the life we want, as long as we can set up the necessary systems to make it work. It also was partly responsible for giving me the confidence to try turning College Info Geek into my full-time job - which worked out 🙂
From the author of The Personal MBA comes a book with... not a single word written by the author. Yep, this book is just a big collection of quotes. That's totally cool with me, though - I think curation is just as important creation. I turn to this book when I need a good dose of inspiration. It also sometimes helps to spice up articles and papers!
Yes, I'm including this book. Yes, it's essential. Ok, maybe you could argue that it's not - but to me, having a book you can turn to and always get a good laugh is a must. My philosophy on stress management is this: be too stupid to be stressed. That's right, only those who are smart all the time will get really stressed out; taking some time out of the day to turn off your brain and let stupidity take over will keep life fun and stress low.
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Photo via Stepan Mazurov
A straight-A university student texted a friend saying "my body feels crippled lol" before he died of natural causes in his halls, an inquest heard.
A straight-A university student texted a friend saying "my body feels crippled lol" before he died of natural causes in his halls, an inquest heard.
Nathaniel Isaac, 20, a first year student at Manchester Metropolitan University had been out drinking in the run up to New Year and the following day sent the message to a friend.
He was found dead in bed five days later at his student flat in Hulme, Manchester, by a college security guard after his family raised concerns about his welfare.
During a 20 month investigation into the tragedy, extensive tests were carried out to find out how Mr Isaac, who studied Business and Computer Engineering, died but experts were unable to establish a cause.
Police even investigated unsubstantiated claims from the dead boy's father that Nathaniel was poisoned with arsenic by fellow students.
But no trace of the toxic substance could be found in his system and a pathologist ruled out any suspicious circumstances.
Coroner Nigel Meadows recorded a death of natural causes at Manchester Coroners Court today, saying: ''Sometimes people who are young and healthy die suddenly and unexpectedly and it’s not entirely clear why it’s happening.''
He said: “It is not uncommon for people to be found deceased in places such as hotels, private accommodation, flats and houses.
"Nathaniel was an academic and gifted student, hard working and a conscientious person, who was performing well. He had had no altercations, fights or other circumstances with anyone.
''He was social, he went to the gym, he drank alcohol but did not take illicit drugs."
Nathaniel regularly met with fellow students Jonny Speight and Nathan Jackson whilst staying at the university accommodation, the inquest heard.
"There was contact with Mr Speight on December 31st, where he simply suggests he’s feeling unwell through the interpretation of the message 'my body feels crippled' and he couldn’t go anywhere," Mr Meadows continued.
''But the exact reason why he was feeling like that he doesn’t specify. He was last seen leaving early to mid evening on December 30 and returning in the early hours of December 31.
"Whilst Nathaniel’s death was unexpected, there was no suspicious circumstances. It is not uncommon for people to be found dead with no obvious explanation for their deaths."
Inquiries revealed Mr Isaac's body had remained undiscovered for several days before he was found dead on January 5, 2018.
The Manchester hearing was told the student, who lived with his family on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands was described as a ''model student''.
Mr Speight, 21, told the inquest: ''He was extremely academic and clever - he always had top marks in class. He was well liked by all the professors that taught him. He was a straight-A student who had time to socialise and go out with his friends.
''I would go out and socialise with him and we would drink alcohol but he often talked often about the gym and running and he was very health conscious. At Christmas 2017, I was at work back in my home town and I believe he made plans to go out on New Year and stay in Manchester.
'''The last time I spoke to him was over Snapchat on 31st December. He had been out the night before with a course mate whilst I had been at work. He had been out in Manchester and he said: 'my body feels crippled lol'.
''I assumed by the “lol” that he was hungover from the night before as there were no other health problems as far as I knew.
But that was the last message he sent me. There were no phone calls or other messages or contact last December 31st.
Mr Jackson added: ''He always came into university on time everyday and he was always the person to show the teacher his work.
''He was planning to stay in Manchester over Christmas and into the New Year and I spoke to him a couple of times prior to the New Year."
Det Insp Gavin Smith of Greater Manchester Police said: ''There were two tissues stuffed up both of Nathaniel's nostrils as if for a nose bleed but there was no evidence of trauma or any physical attack. A security guard and one of his friends had gone into his room and found him. He was in the room which was locked from the inside.''
Police Coroners Officer Ian Taylor told the court: ''It felt like a natural cause of death.
"We turned on the TV in his room and the PlayStation was on standby mode and this is the last thing we presumed he had been doing. His father came to the UK after the death of his son and he was deeply suspicious about the cause of his son’s death.
''They desperately seek some explanation for what happened. Nathaniel was one of five children but the only son. In the British Virgin Isles his academic record demonstrated what defines this young man and his potential.”
Dr Julie Harman leader of the department at MMU said: ''Nathaniel was a very active member of his programme, he was a hard working and conscientious student. He was engaging with his studies. Everybody saw him as the “poster boy” for the programme.
Is academic excellence a priority for you? Do you believe your grades will have a big impact on your future?
In the Opinion essay “What Straight-A Students Get Wrong,” Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, writes about the dangers of pursuing perfect grades:
A decade ago, at the end of my first semester teaching at Wharton, a student stopped by for office hours. He sat down and burst into tears. My mind started cycling through a list of events that could make a college junior cry: His girlfriend had dumped him; he had been accused of plagiarism. “I just got my first A-minus,” he said, his voice shaking.
Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A’s. Some sacrifice their health; a few have even tried to sue their school after falling short. All have joined the cult of perfectionism out of a conviction that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers.
I was one of them. I started college with the goal of graduating with a 4.0. It would be a reflection of my brainpower and willpower, revealing that I had the right stuff to succeed. But I was wrong.
The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance. (Of course, it must be said that if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google.)
Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.
The article continues:
Getting straight A’s requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality. In a study of students who graduated at the top of their class, the education researcher Karen Arnold found that although they usually had successful careers, they rarely reached the upper echelons. “Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries,” Dr. Arnold explained. “They typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.”
This might explain why Steve Jobs finished high school with a 2.65 G.P.A., J.K. Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter with roughly a C average, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got only one A in his four years at Morehouse.
Students, read the entire article, then tell us:
— Are you a straight-A student? How much of a priority is that kind of academic excellence for you? For your friends? Your family? Have you ever felt pressure to be a straight-A student?
— Is the pursuit of straight A’s a good thing? What are the downsides? Do you feel the pursuit of good grades prevents you from doing other important things? Is there a time you missed out on doing something you cared about because you prioritized grades?
— Do you think academic excellence will lead to success in college? Work? Life? Do you think you can succeed in life without excellent grades?
— Do you think there is too much emphasis on grades? Are there qualities and skills that you possess that are not reflected in your grades?
— The author writes: “Getting straight A’s requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality.” Do you agree? Is Mr. Grant’s advice good for all students, or do you think it might apply to only some?
Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.
I want to say that my blessings are my family and the many friends that are a part of As a straight A student and an outstanding Football and Basketball player.
Straight-A students have taken to Reddit to tell the world where their top-class grades have got them in life - and it's not always the most high-flying lifestyles.
The posts cover a wide variety of outcomes, from those working in a coffee shop or not working at all to aerospace engineers flying to Japan.
The page also offered an insight into the pressure students face, with many speaking out about suffering breakdowns and depression while striving to get perfect marks.
Scroll down for video
Straight-A students have taken to Reddit to tell the world where their top-class grades have got them in life.
The posts cover a wide variety of outcomes, from those working in a coffee shop (pictured) or not working at all to aerospace engineers flying to Japan
The majority of Reddit users set out to prove that top grades don't always mean a top career at the end of all your hard work.
Indigoreality was 'working in IT for a straight C boss,' while another straight A university graduate told, 'I work at a coffee shop. Yup.'
Another had the not-particularly mentally challenging job of a train conductor, while waawftutki was feeling particularly disillusioned with the fact he was still unemployed three years after leaving school with straight As.
'Unemployed, completely unsure what to do with my life.
'School made me really really good at remembering random things for short periods of time, but I don't see how that applies to any sort of job or hobbies.
Waawftutki was feeling particularly disillusioned with the fact he was still unemployed three years after leaving school with straight As
RockrGrll decided not to go to college and instead go on tour with her band - despite graduating in the top 10% of her class and having her pick of top college scholarships
Anotherdirtyword told how they did so well in school that they felt like a complete failure when they were averaging a B- at college
'I've been out of high-school for three years, trying to go back to school right now and I've forgotten everything.
'It doesn't mean a thing whatsoever to be a straight A student. You need some actual motivation/passion in something to get good at it, and school has nothing to do with that.'
RockrGrll would agree with the latter sentiment as she decided not to go to college and instead go on tour with her band - despite graduating in the top 10% of her class and having her pick of top college scholarships.
She wrote that her career adviser had a surprisingly positive response, and it turned out to be the right one.
'She said how much she loved my music and was excited I was choosing to follow my dreams. That really stuck with me.
'I now own my own recording studio, work my own hours, and life is f***ing awesome.'
A number of Reddit users could have used a careers adviser like her, as they left school on a high, but soon struggled when competing with the big boys at top colleges.
Those who found their A grades didn't help them in life or who suffered from stress and depression trying to do well warned others not to worry so much about getting top grades
'We were all told at orientation 'get used to being average',' wrote anotherdirtyword. 'I've never been average, so I brushed it off, thinking it didn't really apply to me.
'Sure enough despite all my hard work and non-stop studying, I was a B- student. That struggle really took an emotional toll on me.'
Struggling to cope, they transferred school and graduated with a B+ average.
'Getting all As in my opinion isn't nearly as important as society tells us it is,' they continued.
In fact the Reddit user blames doing so well at school for not preparing them to deal with failing at anything down the line, meaning they had to learn the hard way.
'Your health and happiness are what's important - no one should ever tell themselves that they're worthless because they're not a 4.0 student - not all of us can be, and I've just realised myself that that's okay,' they concluded.
Stop_pot4to also found life doesn't always go as expected after 'burning out' at private college.
'I dealt with lots of depression and anxiety that led me to stop caring about school.
Of course good grades help if you want to command a high salary, too. Sophrosynic is a software developer and 'very well paid compared to the industry average in my city'
ThirstyWombat is giving their parents a run for their money, quite literally: 'Engineer at an aerospace company and making more money my first year out of school than both of [my] parents currently make combined'
Then there are those who sound like they're living their dream, such as notconradanker. 'I'm a research scientist with an aerospace materials company. Currently I'm sitting on a plane about to leave for Japan to do some collaborative research. 'It's a good life'
'I actually failed my last class of my undergraduate in biomedical engineering, so I have to re-take that when its offered again to get my degree.
'Remember, life isn't linear and there is no right path or best life.'
Hidinginplain_sight was a straight A student, but then decided that getting a high-flying job wasn't all that important to them.
'I went to college and discovered my love for doing anything and everything except going to class,' they wrote.
'I live a very happy life, but I'm not in school and don't have an awesome job or anything.
'No degree, minimal money in the bank, but still happy.
'Just not where everyone expected me to be in life, and probably a bit of a disappointment to my parents.'
Of course there are plenty of students for whom all the hard work paid off, too.
'In my second year of medical school. I come from a poor family, so I worked two jobs to put myself through undergrad,' told MDfootball2014.
'Got a degree in biochemical engineering. Realised I wanted to work with people more than machines. So here I am now. And I love where I'm at.'
Of course good grades help if you want to command a high salary, too.
Sophrosynic is a software developer and 'very well paid compared to the industry average in my city'.
While ThirstyWombat is giving their parents a run for their money, quite literally.
'Engineer at an aerospace company and making more money my first year out of school than both of [my] parents currently make combined,' they wrote
Then there are those who are living their dream, like UncleTrustworthy who's now a chemical engineer.
And notconradanker boasted, 'I'm a research scientist with an aerospace materials company. Currently I'm sitting on a plane about to leave for Japan to do some collaborative research.
'It's a good life.'
And then there are those, like bigdumbbears, who are paving the way for our future generations...
'I'm a teacher now, making sure I was the last straight A student.'
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For example: getting a B in a linear algebra exam in 2nd grade would be incredible even for a straight A student, while a B in a 2nd grade exam.