Procrastination is your enemy. Fight it by starting your assignments as soon as you know what they are, when they are due, and what will be needed to make a good grade on them. Same goes for exams. Take good notes, tape your classes on audio cassettes, and do all the assigned readings carefully. Come to class on time. In class, pay attention and ask intelligent questions. Not only will you learn more that way but some profs offer extra credit for class participation. Why not take advantage of that, especially since it might mean the prof gives you more leeway on a late assignment because he or she sees you are actually interested in the course and want to learn from it. That being said, time management skills are very important. One way to save time is to highlight the important parts of your text and notes and study the things the prof said will definitely be on the exam first.
Have a realistic idea of how long it will take you to write a given essay, read the book, study for the exam, do the project or whatever it is. Give yourself more time than you think you will need, not less. Be sure to use a spell and grammar check, and write it in the style the prof wants. If he or she insists on MLA format for your footnotes or endnotes, by all means do it and do it right so you wont lose points. Have a friend or the university writing center read it over for clarity and mistakes you may have missed when you read it yourself. Do not just hand in the rough draft. Decide what your major and minor points are going to be, and organize them into well-formulated paragraphs that flow together in a logical manner for the reader. Support your arguments with relevant examples from journals, texts, experiments, etc. It goes without saying that all of this takes time to do well, so give yourself lots of it. Write down all your assignments and test due dates on a calendar in your room, which should be tacked prominently on your bulletin board. You should also have a time table for your classes and work schedule, if you have one. Also write the dates of appointments, parties, committees or other commitments you hope to go to and the relevant info. Note: these should be secondary to your school commitments since college is not free. Giving yourself plenty of time and planning to have assignments done before they are due helps when you run into unexpected difficulties arise. Right around Christmas break when you are struggling with your workload, disasters like your printer not working, not being able to reach the library or the library not having what you need, sickness, etc always seem to come up and delay your work. BE PREPARED AND PLAN AHEAD! If you have a legitimate excuse for being late or missing an exam, tell your prof honestly what the situation is and humbly ask for more time. When you think you will not get this accomodation and deserve it, you should get legitimate documentation like a written doctor or hospitals excuse.
When doing a group presentation, meet regularly to decide who will do what, when, and how. You can do this over pizza if you like, but do NOT get distracted from the topic at hand. Make sure one person does not do all the work, especially if that someone is you. However, a self-respecting student makes sure they do all they can for the team because you hope your partenor (s) are doing the same for you. Discuss that hot guy you just met later instead of when you are supposed to be working. Close to exam time, everyone is stressed. Managing that stress by eating right, getting enough sleep, and saving your arguments for another time will indirectly improve your grades because you will conserve needed energy. Snack on healthy foods like fruit, vegetables, popcorn, trail mix and orange juice instead of pop, coffee, and chips. Use a good pill ow and comfortable blankets. Be sure to spend a little time de-stressing with a friend, a walk, a funny book, or a great movie. Then go back to your work and have a restful sleep on a supportive mattress. Tomorrow will be another day, and a good nights sleep does wonders for your health, mood, mind, and work ethic. In the morning, make your bed and get a good breakfast before putting your nose to the grindstone once more. Finally, remember there are worse things than getting a bad mark in college. One of them is a nervous breakdown because you wore yourself out worrying. Fight your best fight, and then, having done all you can do, stand up proud and give yourself credit for a job well done.