Tips for School Success

by Andrew Liu, age 14

My name is Andrew Liu and I am a freshman at James Madison Memorial High School.

When the school year began, I was extremely nervous. I was worried about how tough the work would be, what the teachers would be like, and, of course, grades. After the first quarter, those worries have mostly simmered down.

Even though I’m taking a few advanced courses, most classes I have are fairly easy. The teachers are informative and nice, and the homework is very doable. Overall, my high school experience has gotten off to a great start.

In my opinion, doing well in high school is just a matter of hard work. There are a few simple tricks that can help, but there are no real shortcuts to good grades. It takes commitment, and long study hours.

Here are some tips that should work. During class time, don’t slack off and start thinking that you can learn the material later. This just sets you up for long, stressful nights before tests. Instead pay close attention to the lessons, and take good, organized notes. This way, before a test, there’s no need to panic.

If you don’t understand something, make sure you ask the teacher during class. If there is no time available during class, set up an appointment during lunch, after-school, or any time that works for both of you. This may seem time-consuming, but it will help your understanding, and your grades in the long run.

At home, limit your time on electronics and spend more time on studying and homework. A rule of thumb is to study for 30 minutes, and then take a five-minute break. During those five minutes, you should do something relaxing like playing on the computer or having a snack.

After you have finished all of your homework, it is a good idea to use some free time to do extra studying. This will ensure that you understand the material. For example, if you are assigned the odd problems in your math textbook, do the even problems as well. Extra practice can really help, plus you may find a question that stumps you, which you can ask the teacher about later.

One thing I cannot stress enough is keeping an assignment notebook. Most high schools offer these notebooks at the beginning of the year. They are a good investment because most assignment notebooks have valuable information about school activities, schedules, and more. Their greatest value, however, is in keeping track of assignments.

If you are in extracurricular activities, and you just had a meet or practice, it is possible you may not recall all of the homework assignments. During the meet or practice, your mind is not on homework, and you may forget some assignments. If you use an assignment notebook, you won’t have to worry about remembering what assignments you have to do. Also, you can use these notebooks to write down anything specific your teacher wants you to know. If your teacher says an assignment is worth 50 points, you should write that down in your assignment notebook.

Freshman year is just as important as any other high school year. It is the foundation of your cumulative GPA. If you start with a bad GPA, it will take work to bring it up. It’s much easier to maintain a high GPA. Work hard, and you will succeed in high school while also having lots of fun!