How to Help Bridge Your Own Achievement Gap
by Adaeze Okoli, age 16
To succeed in school takes more than just wanting to do well. You must have a plan, and then you must execute that plan.
Everyone has aspects of school that they struggle with. In order to succeed a good student will first recognize weaknesses, and use those weaknesses as a starting point.
Let me give you an example. This past quarter there were two classes that were causing me a lot of grief. The two classes that were hardest for me were math and chemistry. Prior to this year, school had been fairly easy for me. I had a simple formula: go to class, listen to the lectures, do the homework and get an A. I tried this strategy in math and chemistry and expected an A. Instead, I was left with two C’s.
Needless to say, I was quite frustrated. I thought, ‘I’m a good student, I’m smart, so how am I not getting an A?’ I blamed my teachers, the book, my schedule—everything. After the frustration passed, I realized my weakness was my strategy. So I began getting help from both my teachers. I asked specific questions on concepts I didn’t understand, and studied a little bit each day. By the end of the quarter, I had brought both grades up to B’s.
The moral of the story is simple: to excel in school, you need a sound strategy. This strategy has to be your own; one that works for you. Remember that strategies must differ for individual classes. Passing a gym class requires a different strategy than passing a math class.
Once you are aware of your weaknesses, you can begin constructing your strategy. Here are a few main components of a sound academic strategy, and questions to think about when creating a strategy that will work for you.
1) Homework: This is an essential way to master the concepts covered in a class. You should view homework as an opportunity, not as a burden. It’s a chance to practice and learn information that will eventually turn up on tests.
-Write all of your assignments down in an assignment notebook.
- Complete your homework in order-from most difficult to least difficult.
- Do your homework in a distraction-free area
2) Studying: In most cases studying simply means practicing and memorizing the concepts discussed in a class.
- Determine which classes will require more studying
- Set out a reasonable amount of time for studying every day
- Follow these first two steps and soon time management will become part of your school strategy.
3) Help: This just means getting assistance in a particular subject area.
- Ask for help immediately when a concept is unclear to you.
-Determine which subjects require the most assistance. Don’t worry, we all need help sometimes.
-Remember, asking for help achieves two birds with one stone. Not only will you gain valuable knowledge, teachers appreciate and recognize students who show interest in the subject and care enough to ask for help.
One last and very important point: School takes work. But developing a good strategy actually makes school kind of fun. Achieving goals feels very good.
Sometimes school can be frustrating. But when you have a plan it’s much easier to overcome this frustration. Developing a sound strategy is a clear path to academic success.