Starting the year off right


An Introduction

Hi everybody! I’m Mags, a senior who takes all AP classes. During my high school years, I’ve learned a good deal about what it means to be a successful student: how to study effectively, how to balance school work and outside life, where to go when you have questions… all the basic, yet surprisingly difficult, concepts a decent student has to master in order to survive high school.

I’ll be honest- even I haven’t wholly figured out all of these things just yet, but I’m much closer than I was in freshman, sophomore, or even junior year. As a senior, I feel like it’s my duty to pass down all that I’ve learned to the next generation. Consider me your Yoda. By the time I’m done, you’ll be a school Jedi. Just stick with me, kid.

Let’s be honest: school is overwhelming. It’s crowded, chaotic, fast-paced, with a million moving parts all spinning around you, vying for your attention. It’s an ever-changing whirlwind of schedules, deadlines, announcements, and last-minute changes, and if you’re not paying attention, that whirlwind can sweep you off your feet. That’s why you have to come in prepared. You need to have a battle plan to tackle that start-of-school chaos and stress. Lucky for you, I’ve got it all figured out…



Maggie’s Strategies to Kick this School Year’s Butt


  • Make a list of goals for yourself

What do you want to accomplish this year? Do you want to get all As? Do you want to take an AP test, or multiple, at the end of the year? If so, what score do you want to get on it? Do you want to be on a sports team or participate in a club? Make a goal for grades/school, sports/clubs, and family/friends. Make sure that your goals are concrete and measurable- meaning you use specific numbers and amounts- and that they’re reasonably attainable this year, meaning they’re only slightly more difficult than what you achieved last year. Create goals that you can look back on throughout the year to guarantee that you’re achieving what you want to.


  • Make sure you have the supplies you need

This one might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many students I see asking other people for the basics like plain paper and pens. It’s imperative that you keep your bag stocked with all the necessary supplies for each class. Your school supplies are the basis for every single project and assignment you do, so in a way, they determine your grades and performance. Don’t have a sharpened pencil? Your homework will be smudged, and the teacher’s not going to be able to read it. Don’t have a folder for each class? Your papers will be mixed together and you won’t be able to find assignments to turn them in on time. You need to have the proper supplies, but don’t feel bad if you can’t afford to buy something. Notebooks and folders can quickly become expensive, so if there’s something you don’t think you have the money for, ask your teachers and counselors if they have extras. If they don’t, they’ll usually help you find someone who does.


  • Have a planner and use it every day

Yes, seriously. They didn’t give us planners in middle school for nothing. Having a planner every school year has been integral to my success as a student, and it probably will be for you too. Planners give you the ability to keep track of every assignment, club meeting, sports game, birthday, and whatever else all in one place. Plus there’s usually extra space to write to-do lists of not just homework, but also any chores or tasks you have to finish outside of school. Again, if you don’t have the funds to buy a planner, you can always ask a teacher if they have a spare, or you can use a blank notebook and write in the date everyday.


  • Have a “to-do” folder

This is a trick I’ve used since middle school, and it makes life so much easier. Of course you should have a different folder or notebook for each class, but any time you’re given a paper to complete at home, put all of those things in one folder just for assignments you have to finish. In the same way that a planner is helpful because it keeps a list of all your assignments in one place, having the physical assignments all together is also helpful because it gives you the ability pull the folder out in your spare time and work on something. Besides, the folder is a great fail-safe if you accidentally forget to write something in your planner.


  • Make it personal

The year’s going to be long. At some point, you might become overwhelmed and frustrated because it feels like there’s just too much work, and you don’t understand why it matters.That’s why it’s important to focus on the subjects that you love. Maybe you don’t like math, but you love reading; well, even if you become an English teacher or writer, you may need those math skills to do your taxes and make a budget. Maybe you don’t like history, but you like science.Try to focus on the ways that science evolved throughout history and how scientific discoveries affected historical events. Figure out how every class you’re taking will somehow help you in the future, and it’ll be a lot easier to get through the tough ones.