7 Tips to Get Ahead in School

If you are anticipating stepping into the halls of a high school for tLatina Girl Writing - Latinitashe first time this fall, there is always something to be learned when it comes to being prepared for the challenges of high school. Here are a few tips to keep you ahead of the game!

  • Eat Breakfast! –Starting the day without eating a good breakfast is the surest way to lose concentration during those morning classes. It’s difficult to focus on what’s going on on the board when those hunger pangs start rumbling in. Nutritionist  and author, M.S., R.D., Alexa Fishback, suggests starting your day off with foods high in fiber (whole wheat toast, bran cereals or muffins, oatmeal) and protein (eggs, meat burritos, yogurt) paired with a serving of fruit to give for a natural boost in energy and to help hold you over until lunch time. If you miss breakfast at home, you can always grab one at school. Be sure to find out if you qualify for free or reduced breakfasts and lunches.
  • Go to tutoring frequently- Needing tutoring does not mean you are not smart. It means you are smart enough to acknowledge your weaknesses and improve on them. Everyone needs extra help understanding a particular subject area from time to time, so don’t be afraid to ask for that help. It’s a good idea to go to tutoring when you are having difficulty understanding a homework assignment or problem. You can always ask your friends for help, but going to the teacher will help you get a better understanding of whatever you are having trouble with. With that said, don’t just go to tutoring the day before a test and expect all the problems you’ve had to be reversed in one session. It is much better to tackle the problems as they come than to have them accumulate and take you down.
  • When you cheat, you cheat yourself- The temptation to quickly copy off of a friend’s homework at the beginning of class when you forgot to do yours is intense. Especially as everyone is shuffling their papers to the front of the classroom to be collected and your window of opportunity for a quick solution is rapidly closing.  When the proverbial to-cheat-or-not-to-cheat scenario arises, it is always best to take the moral high road. Accept the fact that you fell short this time and make an effort to prevent this from happening again in the future. “But if I don’t copy, my grade will suffer!” Your grade for that class may take a small dip, but you can always ask to turn in the assignment late for a penalty, or strive to do better on the following assignments to make up for it. Plus, look at it this way: when you absent-mindedly copy a friend’s homework you are unlikely to learn whatever it is you were supposed to learn by actually doing the assignment. There is a greater chance that you will fall behind on future assignments, not having fully understood the previous ones, and lack the knowledge you need to get a good grade on a final exam, which, if you fail, will bring your grade down more than a late/missing assignment will. So, in the end, it is always more beneficial to do the work and not cheat yourself.
  • Apply for scholarships on a regular basis– Whether you are sure about pursuing college after high school or not, do NOT wait until your senior year to apply for scholarships. Websites like fastweb.com and scholarships.com are good sources for freshmen and above to search for publicly and privately funded money for school.  Applying for scholarships and grants during your freshman and sophomore years of high school is ideal because not a lot of underclassmen do it, so you have better chance to nab those freshman/sophomore exclusive scholarships. Plus, your chances grow with every application you submit, so getting a head start is key. If you are a junior or senior, it’s not too late! A realistic goal would be to apply for one scholarship a week or every two weeks. Space them out so that you don’t find yourself frantically trying to beat the deadlines for the juicy high school scholarships weeks before you graduate.
  • Get to know your counselor– Getting chummy with your counselors and principals will greatly improve your high school experience. Counselors are not only there when you are in emotional distress and principals do not solely exist for disciplinary reasons.  Counselors are great ears for when you are facing some challenges in class or with your relationships, but they are also great resources for college information and can offer guidance for other post-graduation plans. Helping you succeed is a counselor’s job, so don’t hesitate to reach out to one.
  • Join clubs!- Getting involved in different clubs and activities at school will not only improve your social life, it will improve your teamwork and people skills too.Teen blogger Michelle Boyln suggests writing down a list of activities you enjoy and finding a club that participates in them. Being with a group of students outside of the classroom where you are given a task or activity prepares you for real-world experiences, where you will often find yourself having to learn to communicate effectively to achieve a common goal. In addition, you have the opportunity to meet new people outside of your usual circle of friends.

  • Start good time managing habits now- Remember those planners you were given in elementary school? You know, the ones you had to get signed daily by your parents for a grade? Well our teachers had it right: Having a daily planner is the best way to organize your life and stay on top of things and manage your day wisely. Co-founder of brazencareerist.com Penelope Trunk agrees that even though no one formally teaches you how to manage your time, it’s one of those things you have to learn. Keeping reminders and your daily schedule on your cell phone or a notebook is a great way to stay on top of your responsibilities,  minimize the stress in your life, and make more time for fun!

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