Ah, school – classes, tests, exams, papers, and all the learning to come. School is back and excitement is in the air as classrooms fill, teachers set their expectations for the coming year, and this thing called education – in all its manifestations – returns. The enthusiasm is palpable!
Whether you are just entering high school or looking at the final year, there is a lot to do. One failing of most students is that they think they have time. “Oh, I’ll do that (name just about anything: join a club, do a paper, prepare for an exam, write my college essay) later.” Few remember that school is cumulative, meaning the grades you earn from the beginning of high school count and are looked at when you apply to university. This is also is true of clubs, organizations, and sports you join. Find something that you like and is rewarding to you.
If you are starting high school or are even in the second year, think about joining three different activities from these three categories: academic, personal, and social. Academic clubs include math and science clubs, Chess Club, debate or Model United Nations for example. Personal clubs are those that help you grow personally and socially. These could include sports teams, hobbies or other interests, competitions, etc. Third, join something social where you need to interact with others outside of school. This includes student government, charity, and volunteer or community service in order to help you understand your role in a community. Enter these activities for the long run (i.e. for your high school career). Because of the long-term nature of this kind of commitment, it’s important to do a little research before you commit. Once committed, engage it.
With summer vacation quickly becoming a distant memory, it is important to think about what you learned this last vacation. Where did you go? What did you do? What happened that was interesting? Think beyond the event or events and how they made you think and feel. What did you learn about yourself and how is that important? Remember that education and learning happens all the time, all around you. It is important to take time to reflect.
With school starting, it’s also important to get off on the right footing. Get organized and stay organized. Plan ahead and complete tasks: studying for an upcoming exam, preparing for a paper you have to write, etc. You don’t need to wait for the deadline. Turn things in ahead of time. Set the gold standard for your coming academic year and follow through.
If you are in your final year of high school, there are a lot of things you need to do in addition to school – university applications and everything related to applying to university: SAT, TOEFL, essays, applications, and interviews. Set a schedule to complete tasks and follow through. Be aware of deadlines. Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once. Set small tasks everyday or in other words – multi-task. If you have not started you application personal statements you are already losing time. Start the application process. Most applications have been available since August 1 (Common Application schools and University of California) or October for some Canadian universities.
School is an exciting time. There’s so much promise, and yet so much to do. If you are well organized and manage your time well, it will be a great year. But the difference between great and excellent is how well you keep focused. Remember this – every year you start with an A+/A. It’s your job is to keep it. Have a great year!
Hamilton Gregg is the founder of International Educational Consulting and has worked in education since 1985. He helps students and their families understand their personal and educational needs and find the right school to meet their requirements. If you are a student or parent who would like to ask Gregg a question on our blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org