3.3 to 4.0 GPA: Ace College

LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Read time: 5 min; SpeedRead (bolded): 1 min

I didn’t want to hurt her. I didn’t mean to. But I did.

I broke her will. She almost survived. She ran and ran and ran. She was confident at first. But she didn’t know… how could she? How could she know that I wouldn’t stop? How could she know that I was about to topple her with so much intensity and raw human drive that she would be helpless? She was an innocent bystander that put a target on her back.

Her name was Sarah, and I was competing against her in an online accounting class. If we answered accounting questions correctly we got points, and we lost even more points if we got a question wrong. A list of the top 5 ranked students across the nation was being streamed to every computer that was on the site.

For this chapter, I was going to be #1 on that list. For every chapter I was going to be #1 on that list.

The battle started at 34,000 points when I was about to become # 1. She fought hard and two hours later at 95,000 she faltered and I overtook her at 100,000. When I went to eat and came back, she must have thought I was finished. She was at 106,000 points. Yeah right. Like an old Mortal Combat game, FINISH HER was running through my head.With 20 minutes left I blazed by her to over 122,000 points. Nail in the coffin. I had won.

I’m currently in my second year of college, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Entrepreneurship, and at this moment I have a 4.0 GPA.

To an English major, that’s impressive. To an Engineering major, maybe not so much. Either way, here’s the thing: Most of us aren’t Einstein. That includes me. The reason that I have a 4.0  isn’t because I’m genetically smarter than anyone. I have a 4.0 because I believe that there isn’t anything that someone else can learn that I can’t, given time. I have a 4.0 because I have a resolute drive to prove that belief.

I don’t only believe that about myself. I believe that for every individual, including you.

You can have a 4.0 (or whatever “all A’s” gets you from here) in college. It’s not hard. All you have to do is believe that you can be more and have a drive to prove it- Not to anyone, but to yourself- because that’s the kind of person you are.

Need another reason to have a 4.0?

How about “increase your starting salary by $5-10,000?”

Hey, or at the very least- impress that cute English major.

Learn the Game- The Syllabus

Despite the common belief that there is absolutely nothing new in the syllabus on the first day of class, read it.

When you play a game you want to know the rules right? This class is your game. The rules are in the syllabus. Check out how grading works and what you need on each assignment to ace the course. Pay special attention to phrases like “to get a good grade in this class…” I know this seems crazy, but if you do what is listed after that phrase, 99% of the time you will get an A.

Sit Close

Studies suggest that sitting up front=better grades. In fact, I distinctly remember reading a study that concluded that students make higher grades when they’re inside a triangle that’s base is at the front row and extends to the center of the room. Why is that? Because the people who sit up front aren’t worrying about looking cool. They aren’t worrying about the teacher calling them out for texting. They’re there to learn. They are sitting up front because they are motivated to succeed. I believe that the farther away you are from the professor, the more impersonal the information gets. If you had to have a conversation with someone for an hour outside, standing 20 feet away from them, listening would become tedious in that environment as well.


What if you were a person so motivated to learn, that you weren’t trying to catch up with classes, classes were trying to catch up with you. What if the moment you were assigned something you completed it before the day was over? What if you had the ENTIRE 2 week deadline thereafter, to do what you pleased?

This can be you. Learn to front-load and not wait until the last minute. Life gets easier.

Drive- Perception is Everything

This suggestion is the hardest to teach by far. You have to believe in yourself, even with the knowledge that you may not know everything. If you’ve seen Bruce Banner turn into The Hulk, this is how I approach knowledge acquisition. You HAVE to get your emotions involved in your education. This is important for LIFE. When a professor hands me a test, I take it as them insulting me. I have to prove them wrong. They don’t believe that I have the ability to the learn the material… So what do I do? I make them pay. I crush the test in meticulous detail. There is not a question, not a mistake that will escape my gaze.

My mind is project eviscerating, homework crushing, test shredding badass. Do I get frustrated? Hell yeah! I run into walls all the time. But there isn’t a problem that your mind can’t solve given enough time. Test it. Sit in front of a problem that you’ve been working on. Go into a quiet room and just stare at it. For 30 min. For 3 hours. For 3 days. But I promise you- at some point, (provided that you know some of the theory behind it)you will have reached “Eureka.”

Understand that there isn’t anything that you can’t learn, and strive to acquire all kinds of knowledge. Try to learn as much as you possibly can. Even if the information itself isn’t that relevant (rare), the process of learning is ALWAYS relevant.

Know the The Master

The Gate Keeper to your grade is that weird guy who wears knee-high socks, scratches his nose 24/7 while he talks, and speaks in a tone not dissimilar from the sound of a vacuum. Also known as “Professor,” and contrary to popular belief, this person is indeed a person. He or she has hobbies, just like you. Hobbies that can be found on faculty websites or just through conversation. In all likelihood, there is some commonality between the two of you. Find it and your grade will jump 10%. Fail to at your own peril.

When they ask a question in class, be that one person that actually participates and answers. The easier you make the teacher’s life, the better your grade. Make it hard for them to give you a bad grade. The nicer you are, the guiltier they feel about giving you a lower grade.  When you are at an 88 and need a 90 to pass with an A, you’ll be happily surprised once grades come in.

Aside from this, many professors have become good friends and looking back, I’m glad I decided to be the guy that stepped up and made conversation.

Biology to Your Advantage

Caffeine is a performance enhancer across the board. It boosts concentration (along with athletic performance, by the way) and has been proven in numerous studies to increase exam grades by 3%.

I don’t drink soda or coffee usually, but I’ll down something from Starbucks about 15 minutes before a big test.

Tip: Go to the bathroom before the test, as caffeine is also a diuretic.

Be Resourceful

Don’t think the only place you can attain the knowledge you seek is your textbook or lectures. Here are a few awesome resources that I’ve found that teach as well, if not better, than any other tools at your disposal.

Khan Academy– “With a library of over 2,400 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 150 practice exercises, we’re on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace. ”

Skillshare– “Learn Anything From Anyone”

YouTube– Can’t forget Old Reliable! More than likely there’s a video on youtube explaining the solution to your problem, if all else fails.


News and Updates

Lately I’ve joined an Entrepreneurial Community and I’ve been toying with different ideas for a start-up. I’m very open to meeting any programmers out there (preferably in the Gainesville, FL area)who want to work with a great team of people. Leave a comment and I’d love to go grab coffee sometime.

This weekend, I went swimming with manatees(some the size of a car)—>>> Underwater GoPro vid!

Until then,


Posted on September 23rd, 2011

8 People have left comments on this post

» Opey Russ said: { Sep 23, 2011 - 06:09:24 }

Hi Chase,

I’ve spent a good bit of time on this site and I gotta tell you it’s wonderful. You have grown to be such a fine young man. I respect and admire your zest for life. You are going to do great things!

My Best,

» Chase Doran said: { Sep 23, 2011 - 08:09:25 }

I hope so!
I appreciate you taking the time,

For those of you who don’t know, Opey Russ is a Wonderful Musician, World-class Chef, Real Estate Coach and Dedicated Father.
Read his blog here: http://www.obstatunity.com

» Spencer Simonsen said: { Sep 27, 2011 - 01:09:50 }

I am a UF computer engineering student. I have done a lot with GAIN, the Cade and other local innovation things. Hit me up about your projects, maybe we can work something out.

» Kristin said: { Sep 27, 2011 - 03:09:25 }

This is an awesome blog & gives really good advice to maintain a high GPA in college :)

» Thomas said: { Oct 31, 2011 - 06:10:10 }

Looking for a partner.

I have the business model of the Millennium, that can be inserted into any plan.

The model allows the buyer to purchase any product or service and receive a 100% rebate, and possible to have all their financed payment’s made for them.


» Jon said: { Nov 3, 2011 - 03:11:27 }

Great article man. Congrats on your 4.0. Takes a lot of work to keep that up!

» Coltin said: { Nov 17, 2011 - 07:11:34 }

You put the lime in the coconut and drink the arctile up.

» Arnulfo Corti said: { Nov 18, 2011 - 12:11:49 }

Hi people! Great blog! Do you know more blogs on this topic?

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