Field Notes is a collection of articles curated by students and teachers from around the world detailing their academic experiences.
When your teachers tell you it is going to be your hardest year of high school, I recommend you heed the warning. They probably aren’t lying as they weren’t when they told me. Excessive amounts of homework and never-ending assignments seemed to plague my agenda. I learned quickly that waiting until the night before wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Neither was waiting until after dinner nor was trying to finish homework on the bus.
Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan
The effects of procrastination have to be the lowest points of my sophomore year. Every Sunday was church and stress.
I would be panicking the last minute to get everything finished, especially for AP World History. We would have these long 50-question reading guides that included about 20 vocabulary terms.
They were so overwhelming, but eventually, I learned to bite the bullet. In high school, you have to apply this principle to everything. Although I didn’t want to do a monotonous reading guide, I went up to my room, turned on some music, and got to work. I am not saying it is the most fun way to spend your time after a long day at school, but you’ll have to do one way or another.
My AP World History teacher always said, “Plan your work, and work your plan”. This can’t be better advice for staying on track. When you get assignments, write them down and plan when to do them. Try to start bigger projects a week in advance. Start essays 5 days in advance. Long reading guides start a day or two in advance. This will make sure that you don’t get behind or caught in the last minute trying to figure out your academic situation.
Down to the Nitty-Gritty
Inevitably, you will encounter hard classes. Of course, these classes can be conquered in a similar way as listed above, but you will need to put more work into them.
One of the low points, but also a highlight of my sophomore year, was taking Chemistry Honors. Many students will agree with me that suffering through stoichiometry and dimensional analysis is difficult. Harder classes, such as Chemistry, require more work.
I remember the first test I took in that in which I got an 80 or 90. I was confident until my next test was graded. I had gotten a 70. From then on out, the class wasn’t going to be easy anymore. The homework needed more time to be completed, because I needed to make sure that I was taking in the content.
It is completely fine to struggle in a class. This is just one of the things to remember when making a plan. Maybe, you might finish Chemistry homework early or look ahead at topics in harder classes, so you have a foundation to go off of when learning them in class.
Building a Foundation
Don’t think that following this plan is completely stress-free though. There will be different times during the school year that your teachers will give you more work than usual, and you might fall behind. One of the highlights of my school year was the people that I met. It is critical that you build a support system and surround yourself with friends.
There was a time when I was so overwhelmed with homework that I didn’t know what to do. I had projects to do, homework assignments, a few things I was behind on, and personal things to attend to. Luckily, my friend was there to walk me through it. They told me to tell them everything I had to do. Talking things out with someone really takes the stress from things. It allows you to realize that things aren’t as bad as it seems.
Your friends are your support system, foundation if you will. A foundation is needed to build a house, like your friends are needed to build a better you. Remember, the stress will pass.
As you navigate high school classes, these techniques should really help. By staying on top of your schoolwork, life will reward you with free time. When it does, take it. It is nice to take some time to yourself during the school year. Join a club, or pick up a hobby. Some of the greatest moments of this year in high school were dances, Science Olympiad competitions with my friends, and going outside for a stress walk in nature. If clubs and hobbies aren’t your things, sleep is a good source of relaxation too.