Back-To-SchoolSummer is closing and many students are about to go back-to-school.  For some, it will be their first year on a new campus, while for others, a reunion of sorts.  Either way, getting off on the right foot could easily set the stage for a knock-out year and prevent many late nights, stressful days and aimless studying.  Because, when it comes to college, every year of high school counts and having a strategy works!  By simply referring to this guide you could maximize your chances of success.

Keep Moving Upward

Regardless of your year in high school, making the grade always wins.  But, the slippery slope in not doing well over time is real.  There are terms for this.  Because the sophomore year tends to fall during the second year of your high school journey — virtually in the middle, some refer to it as “the sophomore slump.”  Perhaps more notoroious, however, is the home stretch.  Seniors can see the finish-line on the first day back-to-school and run out of gas rather soon.  Procrastination sets in and the senior fights contracting the apathetic approach to finishing strong and as a result others ask if they have “senioritis.”

These are dangerous if not addressed quickly.  Signs can be noticed when grades are beginning to move in a downward trajectory.  Sometimes it’s an easy turnaround, but ultimately it is best to continue moving grades in an upward track, even if it is in small increments.  But in the unfortunate event the grades have taken a hit, instead of “throwing in the towel,” take a deep breath and begin building from there.  Move those grades upward!

Avoid Overcommitting

There is nothing worse than not having enough time to do the things that need to get done.  Learning this art while in high school will pay incredible dividends both in college and beyond.  Just keep in mind, getting back-to-school brings a heightened level of excitement and desire to be a part of many things.  Remember to narrow down your options so you’re not overcommitting.

It’s important to identify what it is that drives you.  What are you furiously passionate about?  What do you really like to talk about or get excited about when someone else brings up the subject?  Then, take the time to narrow your focus and select your commitments carefully.  Remember, colleges like to see deep engagment in a few things rather than shallow involvment in many.

Oh, and if you are a senior, do not forget the college application is time consuming, so limit your commitments even more so during this time.

Practice Time Management

Even though you may limit your involvment in extra-curricular activities, the schedule will fill quickly and become very busy.  Transitioning from a care-free summer schedule into a back-to-school routine is daunting and can easily overtake the most experienced of planners.

I was sad to hear that Chick-fil-A was no longer producing their annual “cow-lander.”  Calendars like these are perfect in mapping out large projects.  The ability to flip from month-to-month and see the big picture far outweighs the benefits of any handheld, portable calendar.  However, when it comes to tests, weekly quizzes, reminders and reoccuring events, the pocket calendar on your phone or tablet is perfect!

TIP:  The moment you receive an assignment and you know it’s gonna be a biggie — grab that calendar and start mapping out what, where and when you need to do and be in order to get it done on time.  My rule of thumb was to always set a due date one week earlier than the actual due date.  This way, I gave myself some “buffer-room” for those unforseen train-wrecks.  And, it gave me a peace of mind and a sense of satisfaction knowing it was done while everyone else was stressing out!

Segment Large Assignments Into Small Pieces

The aforementioned TIP was just too good and it need not be left alone.  Of all the tips, this one is by far the crown jewel, especially if learned early.  Parsing a large assignement into “doable” chunks helps remove the stress and promote clarity on the subject.  Students are able to focus in on a part instead of the whole and become more productive in the process.

As mentioned before, place the assignment on a day within one-week of the due date.  Then, after looking at all the requirements (i.e. research, rough drafts, meetings, etc.) begin plugging in dates moving backwards on the calendar.  This allows you to see how much time you actually have to complete the project and identify dates of availability so as to not miss out on opportunity to get things done.

Then, repeat for every assignment!

In the end, this frees up your time more than it fills your time.  You will be able to actually spend time with friends and family, go here or there and do this or that, because you have designated specific time for a specific purpose.  Success is moments away!

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