Row of diverse high school students smiling and standing against blue lockers

Top 5 Back-to-School Tips for Every High School Student

Going back to school after summer can be a Herculean task. These tips can help high schoolers get back to the grind and prepare for a productive year.

Bloodshot eyes; midnight oil burning; slumped shoulders; tottering piles of books, notes, and assignments; staircases that seem to go on forever; deadlines; tests…the shriek of the alarm jolts you back into reality when it wakes you up at 7:00 am. You have to make your way to school!

The last golden weeks of peace will now be nothing but a remnant of a fond memory that may occasionally draw a smile upon your face. If you’re a high school senior, it will probably be the last time you whine, complain, and dawdle your way through the day. Regardless of our age, going back to school after the summer is a Herculean task. Yet, I've come to realize that it isn’t school itself that we dread—it's the effort we need to take to re-program our minds so that we get back to our hard-working and committed selves with scheduled routines. It's important for high school students to make this transition period as painless and smooth as possible if you want to maximize your effort and productivity levels for the rest of the year. Here are a few tips and tricks I have picked up along the way in all my years of schooling that have helped me get back to the grind!

1. Give yourself time to adjust

After the summer, it’s usually difficult to immediately acclimate to your once-again-busy schedule. Students are often bogged down by the threat of procrastination or just may not have the energy and the right motivation. This is completely natural and is by no means a sign of laziness! The best way to adjust back into your school routine is to give yourself the time you need. To help you adjust and bridge the gap in this trying transition period, I recommend phasing out your work in stages so you can complete it in good time without overwhelming yourself too much. In order to complete rather long assignments, I often split the task into three or four parts every day so that I can complete them in a more systematic and targeted way. Also remember to always take breaks to rejuvenate your mind, no matter how busy you are. Doing so can really help you get used to the transition period between summer break and school, preventing you from drowning in all the schoolwork and extracurricular activities that are to come.

Related: How to Make Back-to-School Season So Much Easier

2. Plan ahead

This tip is probably one of the most essential aspects of back-to-school planning to remember. It's rather broad since it encompasses many aspects tailored to individual needs. Planning is one of the best ways in which you can map out your schedules coherently so that you finish all your studying and monotonous homework tasks in good time and adhere to all your deadlines. Be sure to plan effective schedules that will help you finish all your work with minimal levels of stress. You should also have a particular order of prioritization so you can plan your way through the tasks ahead and do what's most important first. It can really help you become more mentally prepared to confront the next semester of school with a dedicated spirit and renewed vigor, which is especially important for upperclassmen preparing for the college search and admission process.

3. Try to avoid procrastinating

Even though I've told this to so many people I know time and time again, it is easier said than done. Even I don’t always practice what I preach! Given the circumstances and the situation, many of us still want to bask in the glow of the sun and continue to live out our dream summers. Given the sheer amount of work high school seniors are often given, it's rather disconcerting to muster up the strength and will to complete all the tasks at hand. My one piece of advice to you in this situation would be to not put it off until the last minute and finish all your work as quickly as possible, provided you don't compromise on quality. Ensure that you optimize and make your work environment comfortable so you can finish all those bothersome essays. Try and complete as much of your work as possible when you're in a good mood and feel encouraged to put your best foot forward!

Related: Top 10 Ways to Avoid Procrastination

4. Stock up on all your essentials

Shopping for back-to-school supplies will help you get prepared and ready to tackle anything that may come your way this new school year. I know many people who love shopping for stationary and new school supplies so that they have all they need to take notes, color-code revision mind maps, and divide all their school resources and materials. Organizing, planning, and decorating your work can really encourage you to begin the semester with a new, positive, and orderly outlook.

5. Always stay slightly ahead

Even though we've always been told to stay ahead of our classes by reading and studying extra, we often disregard its true potential—but experience has definitely taught me otherwise. When I began the IB Diploma last year, I never knew the true extent of the subject matter and expectations of the course, but I really should have taken the time to understand the examination patterns and related content. Regardless of your age, reaping the full benefits of this tip can have some profoundly positive impacts. It's helpful to read everything your teachers give you at the beginning of the year so you can analyze the difficulty level of your new syllabus and discern what's expected of you. You should also familiarize yourself with the structure of your syllabus so you can prepare relevant questions for your teachers—and don't be afraid to ask those questions! By clearing up anything you're unsure about, you can stay on track with assignments and expectations, which will make the whole school year go a lot more smoothly. 

Related: How to Get Motivated and Back in the School Mindset This Fall

You only have so many back-to-school transitions as a high schooler, so embrace it, cherish it, and move ahead so you can complete your journey with no regrets. By following these tips, you can enjoy the rest of your high school experience by planning your time and working efficiently. Let’s (hopefully) pave the way for a year without extensions, curses, complaints, grumbling, or late nights!

It’s college go-time for high school seniors! Search for schools and scholarships on CollegeXpress, and find application tips and tricks in our College Admission section.

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About Shivani Ekkanath

Shivani Ekkanath

As a person applying to college this year, I want to chronicle this crazy and unpredictable yet rewarding and fascinating journey so the experience feels less daunting for other students. I'm currently preparing to study Political Science for my undergraduate degree while trying my best to win a battle with the pressures of the IB diploma. I'm a lover of music, debating, reading about current affairs, dancing, baking (not too well), and writing. I'm also an an aspiring journalist and hope to attend Columbia University one day and work for the New York Times or Wall Street Journal.


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