School can be overwhelming. The experience of trying to learn in a large mainstream class is stressful enough. Add to this extracurricular commitments such as athletics and clubs, and you are facing a formidable array of responsibilities every day. It’s hard to know where to begin to focus your energies in order to achieve success.
When I was a student, I always found that being proactive was better than being reactive. The first step was choosing the right class schedule. I was fortunate to have two parents who were both supportive of my academic success. My home life was anything but a tranquil place in which to study, but my father was a teacher and my mother helped me select my courses with my school counselor. If you don’t have someone at home who can help you do this, work with your counselor directly. They are there to help.
Once you have firmed up your schedule, pay close attention in the beginning of the semester to what your teacher wants. Figure out what you need to do to achieve the grade you want, and start doing that from the beginning. Procrastination is a great enemy to guard against.
Then focus on the subjects that you find more difficult. If history and language arts come easy, for example, do what you need to do to stay in good standing, and then devote more time and energy to math and science.
Those four are the core subjects and demand your greatest attention. There is some wiggle room with electives, and sports and clubs should always be seen as pursuits for spare time only. If you can manage all your classes well and still have resources to give to football or performing arts or clubs, then by all means do what you want to do. But be careful not to overextend yourself.
It is often said that colleges pay the most attention to your junior year of high school. I would argue that every year of school is equally important in your academic profile. Strive for excellence in everything you do, and allow yourself the time and space to achieve that excellence. Find a quiet place to do your work and create a schedule for yourself in which your coursework can be completed without distraction.
Success starts with small steps. Setting priorities is a first step.
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