Top Ten: Advice for students starting the new year

The start of a new academic year means it is time for new year resolutions. Here are a few to help get school off to the best start possible.

1. It’s easier to keep up than to catch up. Keep up with your class work, keep up with studying, keep up with important dates, keep up with your grades. If you find yourself falling behind or getting confused, please talk with your teachers to get some help to be able to keep up.

2. Take the time to be organized. It’s difficult to put everything in exactly the right place when rushing between classes, but take some time at least weekly to clean out your backpack and binders. The easier it is to find what you need the less frustrated you’ll be and the more likely it is that you’ll perform better in school.

3. Memorize your multiplication tables. This might be an elementary school skill, but this is one of the most important mathematical skills to build. Whether you’re in elementary school, middle school, or high school, make flashcards and memorize these facts.

4. Remember, the most important book to read is whatever book your English teacher just assigned. Don’t bluff your way through literature assignments; don’t watch the movie instead of read the book, those never work. It might help to get the books on tape or CD to use along with reading the book, but don’t skip the reading.

5. Do exactly what your teachers ask for in their assignments. Unfortunately many students receive lower than expected grades on assignments because they thought they had a different or better way of doing something. There’s a reason the teacher asked for the work to be done a certain way, so follow their instructions exactly.

6. Start exploring your post-secondary options so you know how to plan your high school career. If you’re going to college, check the admission requirements while you’re in middle school to determine if your dream schools require two or three years of foreign language. Will you need to take physics for a career you’re considering? If you want to go into medicine then plan on taking science all four years. Advanced planning, well before your senior year, is critical to being admitted to college and succeeding once you get there. If you’re not going to college perhaps your high school offers courses to help you prepare for the job market you’re interest in joining. Take those classes.

7. Put your education first, other activities second. As a student your “job” is to go to school, learn the material, and prepare yourself for your future. True, there are important skills and lessons to learn from extracurricular activities and part-time jobs, but if you’ve completed your homework and studying first you’ll be able to enjoy those activities more because you won’t have to worry about not getting your schoolwork completed. However, this leads to…

8. Get involved. Have a good time. Don’t miss out on something and regret it later. Your school years present opportunities for you to try new activities, take risks, meet new people, and have a lot of fun. If you’re curious about something that looks like fun, and it is safe and doesn’t break any rules, try it.

9. Be nice and smile. You’ll make more friends, enjoy school more, and make others feel good just simply by being nice. This includes being nice to other students, to the teachers, to other faculty members, to the secretaries, custodians, everyone around you. If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, be nice to those students who have few friends, are new to the school, or seem particularly sad. It’s never wrong to be nice.

10. No matter what, be true to yourself. If the people around you are pressuring you to do something you are uncertain about or really don’t want to do, please don’t give in. You know what is right and what is wrong, follow your instincts, they’re usually right.

Meri Kock

I became a school counselor to help students discover their passion, to assist them in building the educational foundation for their journey, and to support them as they make strides toward realizing their dreams. This is my professional mission statement. When I'm not saving the world, one student at a time, I enjoy sewing, baseball in person but never on TV, and football on TV but never in person. I have no comment about my Facebook addiction though.

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4 thoughts on “Top Ten: Advice for students starting the new year

  1. Wow!!!! How cool!!! I am printing it out so I can hang it in my office!! I am also going to hand it out to the teachers!!!
    Proud to call you a friend and a professional colleague:-)

  2. Dear Ms. Meri Kock: I work as a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation counselor in the state of Washington and just read your tips for high school students. They are fantastic tips and I will try to pass them along to the high school students I work with during the school year. Thanks again for the practical tips.

  3. Thank you for sharing your advice. I think it is excellent and I see no reason to “reinvent the wheel.” With your permission, I would like to share it as a handout with 8th graders I will start working with in October. I will include your name and school at the top of the page.

    I appreciate your consideration.

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