Grades and The Holidays: Beat the Slump

Now that everyone is back from Thanksgiving break, many high school students find it difficult to get back into the academic groove (READ: “Thanksgiving Study Catch-Up Time“). Most students have been working hard since the end of August and are ready for a long-term break. However, it’s still important to stay focused between now and December 20, when the next break starts – a private Irvine academic tutor can help you stay motivated. Senioritis shouldn’t set in until April or May 2015. In fact, it’s better not to let senioritis set in at all. December is way too early to let go of academic responsibilities but it’s a good time to reevaluate what is reasonable and what is not. Successful students should ask themselves the following questions this time of year.


1. Can I handle my academic load as it is now?

If you are feeling entirely exhausted and unable to keep up the pace in December, now is the time to reevaluate educational commitments. Some things are flexible while others are not. If you are planning to take the SAT or ACT in the spring but think that you might not be able to handle it, consider taking it in February instead (READ: “A Timeline Study Guide for the SAT“). However, if you have signed up for an AP class, you are now committed to taking the exam in May.

Can you handle everything on your plate? What can you cut off the list? For example, if you are doing volunteer work for high school credit you may be able to put that off until the summer so that you can focus on your current academic commitments.

2. Are my extracurricular activities reasonable?

Many students have signed up for extracurricular activities. This is a great thing to do, of course, but not at the expense of grades in core subjects. Students who are signed up for sports, arts and music, or community service activities should consider whether they are doing too much or perhaps not enough. Many students have overextended their schedule while other students may find that they are far behind in activities that would be impressive on a college application. December is a great time to think about subtracting or adding extracurricular activities (READ: “End of the Grading Period Crunch Time“).

3. Is my schedule consistent?

Now is a good time to take a look at consistency in education. Many students put things off until the last minute during the month of December simply due to fatigue. Unfortunately, this can backfire. You may save 5 minutes now only to spend 15 minutes later and end up in a panic. If you are starting to feel as though you do not have the same amount of consistency that you had in August, speak with your tutor about a new schedule that might be reasonable and ask him or her to help you stay organized.

4. Do my grades meet my expectations?

If you know that you’re an A student in most of your subjects, but you have been sliding by with a B recently, you’re probably suffering from a holiday season slump. It’s important to talk with your family about the amount of time that you will need to study between now and January 1st. Many adults have one or two weeks off from work and don’t need to look at their email or listen to their voicemails until they go back in January. However, most college prep students will have some work to do over the winter holiday break. Sometimes it’s difficult for relatives to remember what is expected of a high school student during this time of year (READ: “Ask a Nerd! Grades and AP Class”). Let your parents know ahead of time about the amount of hours you may need to spend studying, preparing assignments, or studying for a standardized test during the last two weeks of December.

The holidays should be a fun time. You should enjoy family, friends, travel, gifts, and plenty of sweet treats. However, don’t let all of these distractions take you away from your college prep tasks. Make a plan now and stick to it for the remainder of the month to give you the best chance of success for the rest of the academic year. You’re about halfway done with the school year, so enjoy yourself but keep your eye on the prize.

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