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Escaping Winter Break Limbo: The Art of the Blank Grade Sheet Method

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military strategist and author of the Art of War once said “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

The holiday season is now upon us, and it's time for another Test Prep Champions motivational post! To our college readers, congratulations for finishing the fall semester! It's now time to unwind and get in some relaxation with friends and family. Hopefully you emerged victorious from your hard fought battles during finals week. If your classes went perfectly, perhaps you'll be spending some time over the break reclining in front of a warm, soothing fire place with a mug of coco, reflecting on your success! While we hope all students will be doing something like this for at least a little bit, those who didn't have everything go perfectly may also be spending some time reflecting upon what went wrong, and how they can improve for the upcoming semester. While some degree of reflection is a necessary part of improvement, you should be careful not to get stuck in what we call winter break limbo!

It's understandable if by now you're wondering something like so just what is winter break limbo? Winter break limbo is when you find yourself seemingly stuck between two semesters over the winter break. You're unsatisfied with a Grade you received last semester, and are eager to redeem yourself during the next semester, but there's nothing you can do but wait until the end of the break. Maybe going into finals week your grade was between the A minus/A border in a class, and you went for the A, but came up a little short. Or maybe worse, perhaps you overslept and missed an entire final. Whatever it was, it's easy to go home for the winter break thinking if only I had done this, if only I had done that, etc... and to beat yourself up the whole time over the things you wish you'd done better. Try really hard to avoid this trap!

For students wondering what they can do now to best prepare themselves to start the next semester, here's an idea to ponder. What if you could choose exactly what GPA you wanted to earn for the next semester, before you even earned it? Well, there's a way that you can! The way to do this is what we call the blank grade sheet method! All you'll need to do is get a blank copy of your transcript for the upcoming semester, or alternatively, make your own. Typically, you can print this out from your university's webpage. Most schools have an option called "show my grades" or something very similar that you can use to get a blank transcript with your classes on it but no grades. If your school doesn't offer something like this, your next best bet would be to get a copy of your transcript from a previous semester, and then make as close of a replica as possible using a spreadsheet program like Excel, but obviously list only the classes you will take next semester.

Pick whatever you want your GPA to be! If you want a 4.0, write in all As, and a 4.0! If your goal is to earn say a 3.75 GPA, it may be helpful to use a GPA calculator (you can find one here) to determine what grades you'll need to get in each class to make it happen! The reason the Blank Grade Sheet method works is based on psychology. Many students start off each semester thinking to themselves I wanna get as good of grades as I possibly can this semester, which in itself is not a bad thing to aim for. 

The problem is that this kind of vague goal setting is much less likely to lead to the desired results as is being more definite and specific about the goals you wish to achieve. Countless studies and examples exist that demonstrate the power of writing down goals towards achieving them versus not writing them down. The blank Grade Sheet method takes this a step forward because it forces you to also visualize the outcome you wish to obtain. 

By following through with the blank report card method, you will be mentally preparing yourself to achieve your goals. Like Sun Tzu said, you must win first before you even enter into the battle! Now, nobody can fight your battles for you, and just writing your goals down on a blank transcript doesn't necessarily mean you'll accomplish them; you're still going to have to put the work in. However, if you give yourself a crystal clear goal GPA to strive for, and write your grades down on the grade sheet, you'll be giving yourself a much higher chance of actually achieving the desired results!

We recommend that you put your grade sheet somewhere where you'll see it often! Perhaps you can hang it up on your wall or refrigerator! If you're shy, perhaps you can put it in a drawer or a folder, and then pull it out to review when nobody else is around! You could even put a picture of the grade sheet on your phone to look at throughout the day! 

You're not limited to just writing out your dream grades. We encourage you to also set and write down other goals for the semester on the back of the sheet! Here are some possible goals to consider setting: get more involved in volunteering and community service, donate money to a charity for a cause you believe in, join one or more new extracurricular activities, make some new friends, go to the gym more, and eat healthier. Feel free to use all of these goals, some of these goals, or none of these goals, and be sure to come up with some of your own! 

Once you've set up your blank grade sheet with your ideal grades on one side, and your goals for the term recorded on the other, you're all set to start the battle! Try to look at your sheet at least twice a day, once before bed, and once in the morning when you get up. You only need a few minutes for each session because you literally just need to read over both sides of your sheet, while focusing briefly on what you can do each day to get closer to your goals. During midterms, finals, and other difficult parts of the semester, when the going really gets tough, pull out your grade sheet and review it even more often! No matter what happens, regardless of whatever setbacks occur, never stop reviewing your goals, and especially, never stop going after them! 

Wouldn't it be great if you could look back after the end of the next semester, with your actual transcript in hand, realizing that your blank grade sheet is now your real grade sheet! Wouldn't it also be a great feeling to know that you accomplished all of the goals you set out to achieve? This could be the starting point of some amazing feats in your life, so decide what you want now, and get ready to go after it like a champion! You never know what can happen! As you go forward into the next semester, we hope that you'll consider trying the blank grade sheet method, and that you'll remember what Sun Tzu said to apply in your own life:

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

This post first appeared on Test Prep Champions, please read the originial post: here

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Escaping Winter Break Limbo: The Art of the Blank Grade Sheet Method


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