Organization is the key to success. Without organization, important papers get lost, notes get destroyed, and final exams end with a :( instead of a :D. So what can you do to be more organized?
Keep your books in sight - All of my books get stacked neatly directly above my desk. I stack them so I can read them without having to move them, and this keeps them in easy reach in case I need to refer to the text.
Color coordinate - This is a fun part! I put up a board that is half dry erase and half cork. I then got different colored dry erase markers and wrote my schedule on the board, a color for each class. Then, the colors written on the board are the color notebook and folder I need to take to class. This helps me easily see what I need to do each day.
Don't clutter - I cannot work in clutter. Most people can't. Keep your desk free of distractions like your iPod, phone, TV, personal reading, and anything else that may distract you from your studies. This also gives you room to spread out your books and papers.
Highlighters are your best friend - Use them wisely. Use them to highlight important passages in your book, or parts of your notes that you know for sure will be on the test.
Take lots of notes - Make sure you write down anything written on the board, and important things that your professor says during lecture. If you don't get everything written down, make sure you have the general idea. You can get more notes on the subject, but unless your professor tells you otherwise, almost every test will be made up of things discussed in class only. It's very important to know what was said in class.
Talk to your classmates - Study sessions are essential. They are fun, and help you make more friends. They also may broaden your understanding of a subject. Everyone sees things differently. Maybe their view on an objective question differs greatly from yours. This will help you gain perspective, and see things from every point of view, which will not only help in the class, but also help your personal growth. Plus, everyone loves pizza, and so you can gather a large group, eat, study, and improve your grades and friendships. Win win situation?
Talk to your professor - Developing a good relationship with your professors is valuable not only to help you in the class now, but also to help you in the future. These people will write your recommendation letters, be there to talk, and open their offices for any questions you have. You may have them for more than one class in your college career. You never know who they know, or what they know. Even if the professor isn't in your major, they may have connections with a future employer. Don't burn any bridges with your professors - they are paid to help you. They should have listed office hours on the syllabus. Utilize these times for questions, extra test prep, or to discuss grades. If you didn't get such a good grade on an essay or test, you can ask them what you did wrong. The only way to improve is to know your mistakes.
Resist temptation - College is full of things to do - parties, trips, clubs. Just make sure you remember why you are paying to go to this school - to learn. You have to find the perfect balance between studying and pleasure. If you have a big test, worth 40% of your grade the next morning, and there is a big party down campus, you have to prioritize. Your grades will reflect what you choose to do.
I wish you all the best of luck and have a great school year! Remember, great grades are achievable by everyone. You just have to work for them.
"Opportunity is missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work" - Thomas Edison