Staying Above the Curve

Arika Akin, Editor-in-Chief

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Since the dawn of time, or at least since when formalized grades came into existence, there’s been one question haunting the minds of students: how do you keep your grades up while still getting enough sleep and not killing your social life?
There’s no definitive answer, and it’s entirely possible that there never will be. No matter how perfect the rest of your life is, there will be days, weeks, months and years in which you struggle with the great balancing act of life. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that you have to do to thrive in this world, and it only seems to get worse as the year progresses. Regardless, here are some tips to keep it together through the end of the school year.
The most important part of staying on top of schoolwork is time management. Homework takes time to complete, and completing homework is usually pretty essential in keeping your grades together. Studying, another essential part of keeping your grades up, also takes a lot of time. Make sure to set aside enough time to complete the schoolwork that you have daily. This could mean using all available excess time in other classes to complete your work or it could involve setting aside time after school to focus.
“Take time out of your day to commit to studying,” Liam Amstutz (10) said. “Don’t make bad decisions like hanging out with friends all day… I take a couple of hours before bed and do my homework then.”
Organization is also an essential element of time management, and keeping a planner can help keep your life on track.
“You should definitely keep track of deadlines and have an organized form of keeping track of them, whether that’s a planner or a to-do list,” Susan Chen (12), who was recently accepted into Yale said. “As long as you know when your deadlines are then splitting up your work into manageable portions (is possible). You really don’t want to keep stuff until one night because then you have to stay up really late.”
Another essential element of staying on top of schoolwork is studying. It’s important to find a method of studying. Some time-tested methods are using Quizlet, reviewing and/or rewriting notes, rereading the textbook and, for science and math courses, doing practice problems.
“Find a way that you can study well,” Jie Ling Arata (12) said. “I have to write things down to study.”
No matter how you choose to study, it is important to remember not to stress too hard about upcoming exams. Tests don’t matter in the grand scheme of things and we’re all going to die anyway, so who cares? If you haven’t accepted the futility of life in the face of inevitable death, then it’s easy to stress way too much over examinations. The best advice that I can offer you is that you shouldn’t stress too much, as unreasonable and ridiculous as this seems.
“I don’t really stress that much,” said Vanessa Popescu (11). “I’m a firm believer in ‘You’re stressed? Work harder, and then you won’t be stressed.’ There’s a point at which there’s nothing you can do about (an upcoming test) and at that point, just give up. If you’re stressed, then either do something about it or don’t be stressed and do nothing.”
It also helps to consider the worst thing that could happen if you fail that test or mess up that presentation. Usually, as you’ll find out after just a few minutes of reflection, the worst thing that could happen can be easily overcome or even corrected.
Then, once you’ve realized that the test tomorrow that you haven’t studied for isn’t as important as you think, go to bed.
“Getting enough sleep is one of the best things that you can do because if you don’t get enough sleep then you can’t focus on anything,” Megan Haley (10) said. “Freshman year, I was so stressed out about everything that my grades kind of collapsed. (To fix this), I made sure to do my homework and give myself enough time to relax and then got to bed on time.”
Furthermore, it doesn’t hurt to take a break and hang out with your friends. They can be a huge motivation to get through the week and, especially at this age, your social life can be equally important to keeping your grades up.
“I definitely think it’s important to have something to look forward to at the end of every week,” Chen said. “If you started on Monday and you realize ‘oh I’m hanging out with my friends on Friday’ then you have something that can really get you through the week, and you don’t feel as sad because of all of the work you have to do.”
On a slightly more self-centered note, self-care is incredibly important in staying sane. Whether this means taking the time to go out with your friends or just chilling on your own and taking a bubble bath, taking time for yourself is certainly important.
“Lots of bubble baths (and) face masks,” Luke Lael (12) said. “Self-care is essential… Take breaks.”
No matter what, it’s important to remember that your mental well-being is more important than your grades any day, and there’s no shame in taking some time to focus on yourself.

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