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Evaluating Your Academic Performance

By: Elie Levy (she/her/hers)

Throughout your college experience, you will have many triumphs and many failures. But that is all a part of the learning process and all completely normal. One of the most important skills you can develop during your time at Tulane is learning how to evaluate your performance whether it be academically or work-related. Evaluating your academic performance is one of the major keys to success during college because it allows you to get to know yourself better. You can understand how you learn and study best, what subjects or tasks you have a natural talent for, where you need to put in a little extra work, and when to ask for help. Every student is different, but here are my tips on how to best evaluate your academic performance.

Tip #1: Be Honest with Yourself

Being honest with yourself on how well you prepared, how you feel you did, and what you could have done better is always a great way to start the self-evaluation process. This honesty sets the groundwork for how well you performed on said test or presentation. Truly think back on how far in advance you began your preparations, what you did to prepare, and where you maybe fell short. Could you have started studying earlier? Did you spend more time chatting with a group than you did actually focusing on the material? Did you have too many distractions while studying? If you answered yes to these questions, then you probably could have prepared yourself a little better, but that is okay. We all have room for improvement, and acknowledging the need to prepare better is the first step in finding success for the next academic assessment. 

When it comes to the actual test or presentation, it is important to be honest with yourself on how you truly feel you did. It is completely okay to feel that you did not perform your best. However, it is important to not let that feeling turn into a pessimistic attitude. Understand that you did not perform your best, and then think about what you can do better for next time rather than give up on the spot. Conversely, it is also okay to admit you felt you did very well. This is not gloating, it is simply you acknowledging what works best for you in studying and feeling proud of the payoff of your hard work.  In being honest with yourself, you should also look to set goals as you go along. 

Use any feedback on your academic performance (grades, comments, etc.) as well as feedback from your professors to get a better grasp on what you did well and what could use a little more work. With all the classes you will take in your time at Tulane, it is imperative that you hold yourself accountable whether it is by using lists, setting goals, working with friends as accountabilibuddies, and more. At the end of the day, it is important to reward yourself for a good performance, hard work, and effort.

Tip #2: Attend Office Hours

Your professors are there to help you! We often do not recognize just how much our professors want to see us succeed and perform well in their courses. If you feel that you are not grasping the material well, then of course you will not feel like you performed well on the assessments. In that case, you should meet with your professors and let them know how you’re feeling. They can guide you in how to best take notes for their class, how to prepare for their tests, and give you some one-on-one attention to help you grasp the information. If a professor advises you to drop a course, that is also completely normal. While it can be painful to hear, remind yourself it is the professor wanting you to succeed in your college endeavors. Perhaps you’re taking too many courses or need a bit more experience in a certain field before taking this course. 

Ultimately it is your decision, but it is important to know your professors have your best interest at heart. Reaching out to your professors during office hours is a great way to get a second opinion on how you are performing academically and where you can improve.

Tip #3: Figure Out What Works for You

Your entire time at Tulane is a learning experience. Over the course of your years as a Tulanian, the goal is not just to get your degree, but learn more about yourself as well, whether this is on a large or small scale. For instance, try out different note-taking techniques in your classes and see which one helps you retain or understand the class content better. This could be taking notes on a laptop, a tablet, or writing with a pen and paper. 

No matter what the technique, it is important to try each one out until you figure out what best suits your learning style. The same goes for how you prepare for tests. If you learn better by talking out your thought process, try and get a study group together before the test where you can think out loud together. If you learn best by creating study guides, create your best study guide to organize your thoughts or rewrite your notes until you feel you have a grip on the information. As you take tests, you will learn what study techniques work best for you and give you confidence in your knowledge of the material. 

Trying different methods out is a great way to reflect on your academic performance because you can directly relate your performance to your preparation methods. Set personal expectations for yourself on how you want to do your work and allow yourself to alter these as you go forward with your material. Be sure to check out the expectations your professor has, listed in the course syllabus. As you learn more about yourself and your learning style, be sure to reevaluate your expectations to cater to your preferences and needs. Whatever it is that works for you, you should do.

Tip #4: Track Your Habits and Progress

Taking note of how you perform on assessments is a great way to monitor your academic success over time. This will help you discover your best learning and study styles to ensure success throughout your college career. Go through copies of all your performance indicators for each class. This means take note of how you did on tests, quizzes, homeworks, papers, projects, and more and ask yourself how you prepared for each. See if you can find a correlation between performance results and preparation techniques. For instance, if you performed very well on 3 different tests, ask yourself how you prepared for those tests and try and continue using that method for your other assessments and classes.

Another great method to employ in your college career is the Keep, Start, Stop Method. Ask yourself, what is a positive habit that you should keep doing? This can be anything from studying a week in advance to getting out of your dorm or house to get your work done. Next, ask yourself what is a positive habit that you should start doing? Is there some study technique you read about or saw a friend doing that you want to try? Perhaps you noticed a friend color coordinates their notes to stay organized or you saw a tip that taking handwritten notes is better than typed notes. Whatever the strategy, get inspired and try it out!

Finally, be honest with yourself about a negative habit you should stop doing. This step can be a bit more difficult, but is a vital part of ensuring you are putting your best foot forward academically. Maybe you find yourself on your phone too much during a Zoom class or you play Netflix in the background while you study. It might be difficult to let go of bad habits, but remind yourself that it is for your own good.