Colleges are either up and rolling or about to be, with the K-12 parade quickly on their heels. It’s a familiar and important routine, the start of another school year. There is a balancing act that is both art and science to best prepare students for success – you don’t want too much pressure, nor do you want to take too much of a laid-back approach to get back into scholastic mode. The truth of the matter is that to have your back to school success there is not a one-size-fits-all approach – every student is different, every class is different, and every teacher has his or her own methodologies. There are, however, some areas that are universally important, and each student has to find his or her way of best handling them.
TIME MANAGEMENT. TIME MANAGEMENT. TIME MANAGEMENT.
Yes, it is worth repeating three times. Just like its Location, Location, Location in real estate and retail business, time management is the key to a successful school year – and, really, success in any endeavor (ask anybody over the age of say, 25?) You’ll find some tried and true time management tips for students here – nothing that’s earth-shattering and nothing anybody can’t do with some forethought and basic effort. Planning. Prioritizing. Not Procrastinating – the letter P seems to play a significant role for success! In all seriousness, if you practice those three things – planning, prioritizing, and not procrastinating – your chances for achievement will increase exponentially. It may seem strange to use the word ‘practice’ with those types of activities, but nobody is perfect at any of them and by approaching them with the mindset that they are skills that can be improved upon with repetition, there definitely will be progress.
LEARN WHAT STUDY AND WORK STYLE WORKS BEST FOR YOU
Learn what work and study style is your style, not someone else’s. While emulating the habits of strong students is never a bad idea, you must remember that you are not your best friend, not your brother, and not your cousin. What works for them may not necessarily always work for you. Where this really hurts students is when they see that a lot of other students seem to waste time in study hall or burn away good hours when studying can be done. What they don’t know is that those other students may have different learning styles or tendencies or schedules with time blocked out that allows them to get their work completed at other times that they’re not aware of. If you follow too closely to other’s routines, you may soon find out that they are soaring while you’re flailing.
There are some common misconceptions that should be considered. A lot of students claim that they work best when listening to music or multi-tasking in other ways. While there may be truth
that listening to music helps keep people energized to go at their work, there are some serious questions about divided concentration. Here’s a simple example to consider: if someone is in a potentially hazardous driving situation – bad weather, poor visibility, approaching an accident scene – people will hardly ever turn the volume up on the car’s radio. They turn it down because they know they need to apply their full attention to the situation at hand. Anther very common myth is that people work best under pressure. This is a classic case of confusing correlation with causality. Students may look at their track record and think, “I always write my papers the night before,” and then they start to believe that they have special powers at the last minute before assignments are due. The cause of them doing everything at the last minute is procrastination. It’s not that they do better work the night before; it’s just that often that is the only time they do any work. The fact of the matter is that doing assignments at the last minute makes students much more prone to plagiarism, shoddy work due to sleep deprivation and anxiety, and gets them stuck with no time at the due date when the inevitable technical glitch occurs with a faulty printer or with a file improperly saved. It doesn’t happen all the time – but sooner or later it does happen, and a student better hope it’s not the time that major consequences come with dancing too close to the edge of deadline.
Although it’s been well documented that people possess different types of intelligence, it is still verbal and mathematical skills that are strongly emphasized in schools. But understanding what your strong intelligence suits are can help you in different areas. For instance, if you have a strong proclivity for musical intelligence, you can create study points in verse or rhythmically to help you retain information. If you have strong interpersonal skills, it usually follows that being in a study group with others who possess similar traits would be in order. If you are strong verbally but perhaps struggle with math, sometimes making stories out of math questions can help, or simply converting number sentences into word problems can improve your understanding. Conversely, if you’re stronger in math than language arts, apply some of your number skills to English and literature assignments. Break down writing assignments into logical sequences – an introductory paragraph with perhaps five sentences, body paragraphs with a certain number of supporting details in each, a conclusion that has a sentence balance with the introduction. You can use grids to graph plot points and character interactions, look for patterns that help define conflict and resolution in literature, and utilize other math techniques to help you in Social Studies and language arts courses. By using your strengths in disciplines where your confidence and skills aren’t quite as high, you have a good chance of improving your traditional challenging areas.
Plan, prioritize, and don’t procrastinate. These are also great tips for when you are thinking about selling or buying a house! Contact me today so I can help you put these tips into action!