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The Secrets to Having a Successful School Year (For Once)

Sep 08, 2008

Well summer is now over, and the new school year has begun. Went by pretty quick, didn't it? Even though it feels like summer came and went, during that short period of time you've inevitably developed some habits that are going to make it even more difficult to make this school year a successful one. Yes, the lazy days of summer have a way of making it extra difficult to become a more focused and productive student. But there is no need to fear, for the solution is an easy one. You simply need to replace those non-productive habits you've developed over the past three months. By learning to set goals, getting yourself more organized, and becoming involved in extracurricular activities, you can get right back on track to becoming a successful student this year.

In the summer, your supply of time feels almost endless. You can typically put off any tasks you may have for later without a twinge of guilt. Besides, your primary goal during the summer is usually to have as much fun as humanly possible. But as a student, this habit of procrastination is often the fast track to a failing grade. What you need to do is develop the habit of setting goals, which can then be broken down into a series of tasks. So grab yourself a pencil and a sheet of paper right now. What is it that you wish to accomplish this year? Write it down. An A in Physics? Honor roll? A date with what’s-her-name? Write that down too. Once you have your list, start writing down your plans for making it happen. Maybe you will study for a certain period of time each day. Or perhaps you will seek a tutor. Just make sure you write down the exact steps you are going to take to accomplish your goals for this year. Now, don't just toss that paper to the side. Put your list of goals in a place where you will easily be able to review them each morning and night. This habit will keep your mind firmly focused on those goals, and you will know the right actions to take when the temptation to slack off arises. Also, be sure to draw a line though the individual tasks you have assigned to each goal as you complete them. I bet you feel like Student of the Year already. But not so fast, sparky. There's still more work to be done.

During the summer, you never had to worry about schedules, supplies, books, or homework assignments. But now that school has begun, those items are going to accumulate pretty fast. But instead of looking like a bumbling idiot every time you need to reach for one of those items, you can put yourself ahead of the game by getting organized. Something as simple as a binder with separate tabs for each subject can determine the difference between success and failure this year. And there are various organizational trays you can purchase to keep pencils, pens, calculators, and any other needed supplies and avoid the clutter that will often sap your energy. Also, invest in a good assignment book. Not only can you write down the tasks given to you by your teachers, but you can also start scheduling the tasks you wrote down during the goal-setting process. Now that you have the powers of goal-setting and organization at your disposal, there's one more surprising element that will make this school year a breeze.

All work and no play will eventually burn you out. You can't just go from a carefree summer to a life of books, homework, and the whirr of the pencil sharpener. So this year, expand your mind by getting involved in at least one extracurricular activity. Surely you have other interests outside of school, and an extracurricular activity is just the thing you need to have some fun this year without vegging out in front of the TV or gabbing on the phone with your friends. You may even make new friends and learn even more about what career path you would like to take. As an added bonus, extracurricular activities look great on college and job applications. Whether it's sports, a volunteer group, or a social club, you're sure to find something to make you a more well-rounded student.

So now you've set your goals, gotten everything organized, and involved yourself in a few activities outside of the school realm. Looks like you're ready to make this school year even better than you ever imagined. And in the process, you have developed skills and habits that are vital to attaining success once school ends and the real world begins. See you next summer.

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