Black male student happily leaving school bus between two other students

The Best Back-to-School Advice From Real Students Like You

Check out these great back-to-school tips to help you excel in your classes, improve your organizational skills, and be your best self—all from CX users!

Back-to-school season may not be your most favorite time of year, but it’s a great opportunity for a fresh start! If you’re struggling to get back into the swing of things, we have some sage advice straight from the CollegeXpress student community. We asked students for their best tips as part of a recent Back-to-School Giveaway on Instagram, and we were overwhelmed with responses! Check out just a few of our favorites below, organized by advice for schoolwork, organization, and general student life, plus some of our most helpful articles to help you start the new semester strong. (Please note: Responses have been edited slightly for clarity.)

Top tips for excelling in your academics

  • Make sure you stay on top of your homework and have a planner! — Hannah P.
  • Be friendly with your teachers. — Bethany H.
  • Do your homework Thursday night so that you won’t forget about it on the weekends! — Natalie
  • Listen to instrumental music while studying; it helps me focus. — @dancer4theking
  • Always cite your sources. — Lauren F.
  • Every time you get an assignment, write it down. Homework can pile up especially when taking multiple APs or having many extracurriculars. — Vicky B.
  • Study a little each day so you can progressively learn the material. Don’t cram it all in one day. — Abigail D.
  • Don’t be afraid to not understand something right away. — Brinn
  • You don’t need one study space; have multiple places you can go to like coffee shops or libraries. — Gaby
  • Talk to new people in every class. It’s good to have at least one buddy per class. — Jamie J.
  • Read ahead to be prepared for your next class. — @zainrxs
  • For the more challenging courses, join a study group. — @hate_is_the_new_black
  • When you can, talk to your professors face-to-face. This shows you’re actually interested in what they have to say and can help you build a history. — Emmry S.
  • When there are lots of assignments, start on the hardest ones; it’ll help you get them over with and the easier ones won’t be such a hassle to deal with while you’re exhausted afterward. — Nadiah
  • Don’t let a bad grade keep you down. Grow from your mistakes, learn from what you got wrong, and work on it to improve later. — Grayson G.
  • Never give up even when a class becomes difficult! You will get through it! — Layla

Further reading on CX

Top tips for getting organized

  • Create reasonable goals! Write out 5–8 things you want/need to accomplish and check them off as you finish. It helps to make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself while also being productive. — Karishma S.
  • Stay on top of your work and don’t procrastinate because the more you wait, the harder it is. — Asaria Z.
  • Set up a routine and try your best to follow through! If you miss a day, don’t feel defeated, but continue to push forward and extend your routine streaks. — Annie
  • Set alarms and reminders for everything. — Pierre
  • Be a step ahead of work so you have more time to relax after. Procrastinating isn’t worth it in the end. — Holly C.
  • Make an Excel form of all your assignments due for the semester so you don’t miss anything! — Autumn
  • Make a calendar with due dates. Something about physically crossing them off is so satisfying. — Mireya A.
  • Stay focused and work ahead when you can; that way you can make room for free/fun time with friends and family. Having time set aside for relaxing definitely helps your dedication toward school. — Mariana B.
  • Use the Inverted Pyramid study method: Do the bulk of your studying 7–10 days before your exam/quiz/etc. to better retain the information and not stress yourself out the day before! This allows you to relax the day before instead of trying to cram all the information in at once. — Kendall B.
  • Make a daily to-do list in the form of a stoplight: Red items on the list need to be completed right away, yellow items need to be done but can wait until tomorrow, and green items do not have a deadline but do need to be completed. — Shaylee M.
  • Set aside times of the day for work and play. Don't work yourself to death or it will drain all of your energy so fast. Enjoy life and the small things! — Aiyana K.
  • Don’t overload yourself, just take one day at a time! And always stay positive. — Cheyanne S.

Further reading on CX

Top tips for living your best student life

  • Eat a good, healthy breakfast to start the day. — Kimberly H.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep and stay on top of your homework! — Alex M.
  • Do whatever makes you happy and successful; don’t just do things because others are doing it! Be you. It’s a new opportunity to express who you truly are. — Bailey H.
  • Live your own life and enjoy the simple moments because life is short, so make the best of it in your own special way. #ownit #dontstressoverthingsyoucantcontrol — @mari_reinaaa
  • Learn to enjoy the experience. It’s not only about learning. — Rohan
  • Practice mindfulness so that you don't become overwhelmed and stressed about schoolwork. — Jennifer M.
  • Strive to be the best version of yourself. It’s hard to be inspired by mediocrity. — Lauren S.
  • Prioritize three main goals at the beginning of the day so when you become tired, you can complete those three and know you are still on the right track! — Gracie L.
  • APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS! You have to find the right ones so you don’t waste your time, but looking for them and doing them is so worth it!! — Emily C.
  • Make sure you give it your all and participate in clubs that interest you if you have the time; it makes school more fun and will look great to colleges. — Dakota W.
  • Always find the way that’s best for you. Even if nobody else uses that method and it seems totally out of the box, as long as it works for you, you should do it. — Taryn W.
  • Give yourself needed breaks. When you feel tired, sleep; when you feel stressed, talk to your teachers; when something out of your control happens, don’t blame yourself. — Ashlyn N.
  • My favorite back-to-school advice from my dad is “keep a close eye on your goals but face every day like there’s no tomorrow! If you live like that then school will pass by in the blink of an eye.” — Lily M.
  • Try to make some new friends right away and join clubs that help you socialize and contribute to the school culture. It makes you miss home much less. —Matt S.
  • Study that extra 10 minutes, compliment people, try out for that sport, etc. Do it so you have no regrets! — Taylor T.

Further reading on CX 

Thanks to everyone who submitted their best back-to-school advice! You can see all the great answers on our Instagram, and keep exploring our feed for other helpful tips, fun polls, and more content to help you make this your best school year yet.

Is this the year you start your college and scholarship search? We have what you need to get the ball rolling (or keep it going) on the CollegeXpress Resources page!

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Samantha Fils-Aime

Samantha Fils-Aime

High School Class of 2019

I love that CollegeXpress has helped me find some scholarships to apply for but also helped me succeed in school with lots of tips. I also really like how they consistently email me about webinars that teach me a lot of things from the comfort of my home!

Kelly Nogueiro

Kelly Nogueiro


For me, CollegeXpress has given me a valuable tool to use with my students to explore colleges easily beyond objective data. It helps me find colleges for students that fit their needs and wants that aren’t quite so black and white. It's a wealth of knowledge, and the Type-A side of me loves all the lists and the fact that I know they're coming from folks who know what they're talking about. I share it with colleagues and students alike, and it's always well received.

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Ruth Aguilar

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me by providing me with many scholarship opportunities and information about universities I want to attend. What I love about CollgeXpress is how it provides a variety of information, and as the first child attending a university next year, it has been very essential and helpful. I’m so grateful for this because the information provided by CollegeXpress has also helped me see that there are so many college opportunities, and it always informs me by email. In other words, CollegeXpress has been like a guide for me as a future college student.

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Anthony Vidal

High School Class of 2023

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Student, Fairhaven High School; CollegeXpress Student Writer

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