It’s a common challenge I face every day: staying on top of my schoolwork and making progress in crew equal priorities.
Balancing these two parts of my life were big hurdles when starting my eighth-grade year at Orinda Intermediate School in Orinda, Calif.
I thought I was prepared to tackle schoolwork with the pressures of late-night crew practices, but I was wrong. I found myself doing homework the class period before it was due, finishing reports on the bus, and waking up at 4 a.m. to complete assignments that ultimately, still weren’t my best effort. None of these were good study habits. Ultimately, sports were prevailing and my grades were suffering; it was a constant battle; and I was always tired.
Trying to figure out how to keep my grades up without affecting my crew teammates (for example, skipping practice to study), motivated me to develop three tips to help balance school with sports:
1. Use flashcards.
Not everyone uses flashcards, but for me it works. Flashcards don’t require a power source or a Wi-Fi connection and are an inexpensive and a compact way to test my memory wherever and whenever. Also, when I use flashcards to quiz myself, I’m actually improving my retention and can remember facts longer. I’ve recently tried taking pictures with my phone of the flashcards as a backup when traveling to and from crew practices.
2. Study early.
Ever since sixth grade I’ve had a good routine for math: I would study daily, do the homework, take the quizzes, then review for the test one section of the chapter at a time, sequentially. That routine no longer works. By taking a larger planning approach to math, studying early, and working with my classmates via FaceTime, I now review an entire chapter or two and stay ahead of assignments, allowing me to be better prepared for tests. Debate class is different, though. It doesn’t fit the model of what I was trying to apply. The debate research and brief preparation is completed early, but it always comes down to last-minute team practice for the tournaments themselves. Always. How can I take this new study process and apply it to debate? Study Groups.
3. Form or join study groups.
Forming or joining a study group is a good way for me to create small windows of extra time, which is rare. Study groups allow me to take the lead when time is on my side, yet have others step up when I’m busy with crew or debate tournaments. Study groups have become a great way for me to ask questions about extra-credit projects, show ideas for my next debate topics, and even study for an upcoming history test. I’ve found that discussing the topics can also help my study process; they can shorten my homework time, too.
And, there are other small things that may sound crazy, but contribute to my routines: my study candle, my ear buds for music, and multiple packs of spearmint Trident gum.