You’ve got the new clothes, the new haircut, the latest sneakers. But what else do you need to make this year of high school the best yet?
For starters, make this the year you figure out how to get organized and manage your time so you’re not super-stressed all the time. We can help with that.
Second, if you’re thinking of college, find the best tool, whether it’s an app, a spreadsheet or a shoebox, to stay on top of college applications, visits and essays. We can help with that.
Third, make academics a real priority this year. Figure out how to set realistic goals, get any help you need and get what you need to do the best you can. We can also help with that.
And last, cut yourself a break. Remember, nobody’s perfect (even that kid who sits in front of you in math who aced the SAT). Rest assured there is a college that will be a good fit for you as an individual and will be glad to welcome you to campus. And, yes, we can even help with that.
As the school year starts, we went back through some of our best study and college application hacks. Here are a few to get you started this new school year.
1, Upgrade your grades by changing homework locations and using other tricks.
If your current study habits aren’t working, change them up. You probably have a favorite homework spot but changing study locales can actually help you memorize, according to a study at Texas A&M University. And learn to use acronyms, mnemonic devices, songs and other tricks to “hook” your new knowledge to what you already know. For example, “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos” gives you the first letter of all the planets.
2. Work on improving your high school resume.
There are plenty of things you like to do, whether it’s drawing a graphic novel, skateboarding or hanging out with your younger cousins. Can you turn any of those things into a high school resume asset? Could you help teach a class at the local skatepark? Tutor senior citizens in graphic arts or drawing? Babysit on a regular basis or volunteer at a preschool center? Don’t do community service just for the sake of college applications; do something that you enjoy and shows you’re committed.
3. Do some things now to make college easier.
Consider an online AP course or a course at the local community college, for example. It could not only earn you credit but also make college less expensive. Even more important, it’s good experience for learning what’s expected in a college class. And it will help show colleges that you’re ready for the big time.
4. Get your college application stuff organized.
Pinterest is one way to organize your college applications. You can create boards on Pinterest for each college and you can also use it to search for scholarships and financial aid. The app is right on your phone so you always have it with you. If you’re not the digital type, just get three boxes: one for general college material; one for colleges you’re interested in; and one for scholarship materials. Do a clean out every two weeks to stay on top of things and make a wall calendar of due dates.
5. Work on your writing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re into math, dance or 1950s Beat poetry, writing is one skill you are going to need throughout high school, college and life. (Sadly, you can’t Snapchat a college essay.) Do what you need to do to get better, whether it’s finding a tutor, staying after school for writing lab, or asking a buddy to help you.
6. Try to keep your stress level down.
High school is hard. There’s no getting around it. If you want to keep your brain, body and hormones under control, then you’ve got to work at it. Make sleep a priority. Put some healthy food in your body. Don’t be dumb about drugs and alcohol. Know the danger signs of teen stress and depression in yourself and your friends. Never, ever be afraid to ask for help.
7. Don’t trade an easy out for your future.
There are going to be plenty of temptations this year to slack off or to cheat. Sure, a little slacking off never hurt anyone. But don’t make it a habit. And cheating? Don’t be lulled into it by a friend. Make sure you are clear about plagiarism and understand what the teacher considers cheating. For example, can you work with a pal on homework? It’s easier to solve a poor grade than the possible consequences of getting branded as a cheat. Most high school counselors are required to disclose disciplinary issues to colleges that ask.
8. Stay optimistic!
When you’re a teenager, it’s easy to be defensive and cynical. But studies show that optimistic people are healthier and happier. So, keep reminding yourself that high school is only a small part of what’s likely to be a long exciting life. And this year, you’ve got the tools to make it great!