You’ve Gone Back to School, Now Get On the Right Track
The school year is in full swing and the first six weeks are now blowing in the wind. Have you adjusted to your routine or are you struggling to get to class on time, complete your homework, and still show up energized for after school activities?
We pulled together some tips that can take you from barely getting by to conquering the many demands that are part of high school life.
Get to bed earlier
There’s nothing worse than starting your day off in a frenzy. Having to rush and/or being late to class can set the mood for a difficult day. Teenagers need between 8-10 hours of sleep per night in order to be at their best. However, an overwhelming majority of teens (up to 85 percent) are chronically sleep-deprived. Many teens begin feeling sleepy around 11 p.m., but have to wake up early to be at school between 7-8 a.m. (some even earlier for band, choir, orchestra, dance, or sports). Plus, lack of sleep affects mood, concentration, eating habits and even your complexion.
Follow these tips to help you get the rest that necessary to help you perform at your peak level:
- If you’re not involved in a school sport, adopt some kind of physical activity. Try walking, biking, yoga, or any other activity that interests you. Physical activity allows you to sleep better at night and also keeps you healthy and revitalized during waking hours.
- Create a ritual before going to bed such as reading, going over the next day’s schedule, or taking a bath or shower. By creating a ritual, you’re telling your body that it’s time to start settling down for the night.
- If you suffer from insomnia, you’re not alone. See a sleep therapist before turning to pills and other synthetic forms of therapy which can become addictive and make it difficult for you to wake up on time.
- Turn off all technology at least an hour before bedtime. That will help your brain settle down and produce the melatonin it needs to fall asleep. Don’t go to sleep with the TV on. Instead, try reading a book. Here’s a curated list of popular books to read in high school.
If you’re planning to take the SAT or ACT, don’t wait until the last week before the test to crack open a prep book and work on some practice questions. Allow yourself plenty of time to prepare.
Clean your room
Besides making your parents happy, cleaning your room will allow you to have a clean, organized space to study. Clean your closet, too. Start eliminating some of your summer clothes now that temperatures are beginning to cool down and make sure you have warm clothes for those cold mornings that are just around the corner. If you play sports, make sure your sports clothes are kept in a separate drawer so you don’t have to go digging around for them when getting dressed for practice. A clean room is ultimately a time- and stress-saver. No more searching for that pair of jeans or shoes or your Biology notebook at the last minute.
Go over your schedule
Are you overbooked or working too many hours at your part-time job? Do you need extra help in some of your classes? Student athlete? Come up with a plan for getting control of your time and pressures. Figure out of there’s a teacher or another student who can help you with your more difficult courses. Many teachers offer extra study sessions. If it’s within your means, consider hiring a tutor to help you.
Make or Reevaluate your goals
Take charge of your future by setting goals for yourself. Goal-setting gives you both direction and purpose, and it helps guide your efforts. Think about your academic goals for this year. You might start by making a list of your academic strengths and weaknesses. For example, are you able to pull off good grades in English with little effort while your Math grades suffer no matter how much you struggle? Do you experience anxiety around test-taking? Are research papers a challenge for you? Is Science a mystery? Would you like to improve your grades in French?
Make a list of top priorities (no more than 2):
- Bring math grade up from C to A
- Master essay writing
Make a list of secondary goals:
- Increase vocabulary in English
- Improve listening skills in French
- Gain 200 points on the SAT
Think about some personal goals that you want to develop. Do you spend too much time on social media? Would you like to make the varsity basketball team? Set your personal goals as well as your academic goals:
- Limit my Facebook time to one hour/day
- Qualify for the varsity basketball team
- Land a leading role in the school play
Besides setting your goals, think about the steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve them and write them down.
What will it take for you to improve your Math grade? If your teacher offers after school tutoring sessions, attend them. Or consider hiring a personal Math tutor or attend group study sessions with strong Math students.
If you want to make the varsity basketball team, you’ll need to dedicate some time to getting in shape and practicing your shots.
- Remind yourself of your goals daily. You can tape this list of goals to your mirror or next to your bed or keep it in a place where you can be reminded of it often.
Plan your social life
Of course, you want to have time with your friends during the school year, but you also have to be prepared to set priorities. Practicing a sport, working a part-time job, or volunteering for your church all will have an impact on your social life. Socializing and chill time are an important part of life and it’s essential that you make time for it. But don’t make so much time for it that you miss homework assignments and lag behind in your other responsibilities. You may want to make an Excel spreadsheet or use Google Calendars to outline your schedule. When will you have some leisure time? Try to plan hang-out times then.
Kick your social media habit
How many hours a day do you spend on SnapChat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Social media is highly addictive, and if you’re not prepared to limit the time you spend on it, you may be headed for trouble. School schedules can be grueling, especially if you’re taking challenging courses, are involved in a lot of activities, or are heading into college application season. If you have a problem controlling the amount of time you spend on social media, check out this helpful article on how to get it under control.
We believe if you follow these tips, you will have your most successful and satisfying school year ever.