Start the School Year Off Right
Some of you have a full month left of summer vacation and some of you are going back to school in a couple of weeks. Either way, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the first day. You don’t want to show up and feel overwhelmed with a plethora of new information, new course material, and new teachers. Some of you will also be going to a brand new campus. A couple hours of preparation, in addition to an Irvine private tutor to get the rust off, can make that back to school transition much easier.
1. Buy Supplies
Getting all of your supplies ready is something you have been doing since the first grade grade but it is certainly worth mentioning. If you are in high school this means ordering test prep books and college application materials in addition to your normal cart full of pencils, notebooks and electronic materials. A trip through your local office supply store during the first week of school is a nightmare of crowds and lines at the register so getting all that done ahead of time is helpful.
2. Order Your Textbooks
Many of your classmates will have read through the first several chapters of their textbooks in order to get a feel for the difficulty level of the classes and I recommend that you do the same. This doesn’t mean that you have to read through the whole book but taking a couple of hours in order to get a feel for the material can make the first four weeks of school a lot easier (READ: “College Textbooks: The Struggle is Real“).
3. Find Out Who Your New Teacher Is
Not knowing who you will be learning from for the next nine months can be pretty stressful so I suggest finding out who your teacher or teachers will be this year. This is especially true for younger students who have one teacher for all subjects (READ: “7 Things Parents Should Ask New Teachers“). Knowing a little about your teacher’s personality can also be helpful. If you attend a local public school, chances are that at least one of your neighbor’s kids also had that teacher at one point or another. Ask around and find out if he or she is lenient or strict, what pet peeves they have as well as how they grade. For example, do they put more emphasis on tests or homework assignments? With the addition of Common Core, the style of teaching varies less and less but any tips you can get about your new teacher are helpful.
4. Line Up a Private Tutor
If you find that there is always one subject that you need a little extra help with, don’t wait until you get your first C or D to call in a tutor. Go ahead and call the company now. Even if you want to wait to start tutoring, it is better to arrange for a private academic tutor when their schedules are still open. If you are taking AP classes in the fall or if you are planning to take the SAT or ACT this year, go ahead and call up that tutor; your competition will be doing the same.
5. Make a Study Schedule
Many students find themselves in a panic in October because the first set of grades gets handed back. If you received all As and Bs last year it would seem logical to assume that you can swing the same grades this year. However, many students are affected by the difference in difficulty level from one grade to the next. Sit down and type out a schedule. Set aside an adequate amount of time each day and week for study and homework completion. If you are also taking the SAT in October or November, set aside some additional time for these subjects. Leave as many as 10 hours a week (in addition to your tutoring sessions) to focus on the SAT the month before the exam. When you add up homework and test prep time, you may find that you don’t have a lot of time left in your schedule so consider which extracurricular activities are realistic.
6. Sign Up for Any Tests That You Will Be Taking This Term
It would be a shame to do a ton of SAT or ACT study during the summer and miss the sign up deadline to take the actual exam. Make sure that you have signed up well in advance. (CLICK: Register for the SAT)
7. Get Some Rest
Once school starts back up in the fall, the reality is that you will probably be asking your brain to do quite a lot. If you are taking AP classes, then you are probably already preparing. Summer study is important but make sure that you are getting eight hours of sleep a night.
8. Manage Sports and Study Schedules
Being an academic athlete is really hard work; your mind and body are working away at full speed. Over the years I have seen many students take the SAT on a Saturday and go straight to practice that same afternoon. Get a schedule from your coach and talk to him or her about your test commitments (READ: “How to Balance Sports and Academics“). Fill in your calendar with the amount of time that will be dedicated to practice as well as home and away games. Make sure to add in a little extra time for post-workout smacks and going out to pizza after winning the big game. Then schedule yourself plenty time for academics. Be realistic about the amount of time you will be spending on sports and studying. Consider working in a study group with other athletes who are facing the same overloaded schedule.
9. Make a Timeline for College Prep
If you are a junior or senior, college prep should be priority one. This includes the all important SAT or ACT (or both), writing your college essays, selecting a list of schools to apply to and writing out a timeline for applications (READ: “8 SAT Essay Tips“). Don’t miss the application deadlines! If this seems overwhelming to you, call in a college counselor to help organize everything. Make sure to tell your Orange County test prep tutor what scores you need in order to gain acceptance into your dream school.
10. Take a Look at Your New School
If you’re entering the sixth grade or the ninth grade grade go take a look at your new campus. Some of you might live right down the road but others may not have even driven past the new campus. If the school offers a welcome night (most do) take the opportunity to take a look at the facilities, find out where your classrooms will be and meet the teachers and your new fellow students. That will take a lot of anxiousness away from the very first day.
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