1) Stay organized. Successful students come to class with their materials organized. It's a good idea to have different notebooks for each subject, and always keep extra pencils, pens, and highlighters. If something isn't needed in your backpack, take it out! Disorganized students are known to keep old, crumpled assignments in their backpacks, so make sure to clean out your school bag periodically.
2) Have an agenda. Successful students tend to plan out their assignments well in advance, especially for long-term projects. Teachers nearly always provide a syllabus at the beginning of the school year. If you know a large research paper will be due in two months time, don't deliberate! Successful students will plan out the process – research, note taking, outlines, drafts – well in advance. As we always say, it's better to avoid procrastination and space out the work into smaller chunks.
3) Actively participate in class. Raise your hand, volunteer, and ask questions! Not only do teachers love students who participate, but these students also retain more information and will eventually better understand the material. Ultimately, these same students will develop a more positive outlook towards education by actively taking part in the learning process.
4) Don't be a perfectionist. Speaking of the “learning process” – highly driven students sometimes forget the second word in this phrase – process. Nobody is expected to be perfect at something their first try! Furthermore, successful students will know when it's time for them to reach out for help, rather than frustrating themselves further. As we've said before, teachers do not expect perfection in most areas of a class. Homework is meant to improve a student's skills, and making mistakes is perfectly okay.
5) Use additional study resources. As we mentioned, successful students know when to ask for assistance. If a concept isn't making sense, take advantage of study programs, complete extra-credit assignments, and of course – reach out for a tutor!
6) Get a good night's sleep. Too many students go to bed late and attend classes without getting sufficient rest. Students that get their homework done early and get a good night's sleep are going to be more alert during class time. The National Sleep Foundation recommends teenagers (ages 14-17) get 8-10 hours of sleep per night, with this figure even higher for younger children. Successful students will plan their schedule in a responsible way that enables them to go to bed at a reasonable time.
7) Have a study space. As we mentioned in our last blog, a large percentage of students attempt their homework with several distractions around them, ranging from cell phones to TVs. This really isn't ideal, and successful students will know to complete their homework in a quiet area free from distractions. Rather than setting up at the dinner table, we recommend students find a dedicated area for homework (like a desk in their room) to help remain focused.
8) Get involved with extra-curriculars. Successful students have a positive outlook on the academic process and value education highly. These values begin when students form closer connections to the realm of learning. Whether it's joining band to learn saxophone or volunteering after-school at chess club, students that participate in extracurricular activities are happier and more motivated throughout their academic careers. Forming these closely held values towards the benefits of academic programs (and the opportunities they provide) instills a lasting respect for education, and ultimately paves the road to success.
9) Use technology to your advantage. In today's day and age, students have access to the internet, an incredible resource that puts a vast amount of information at our fingertips. Long gone are the days of trudging to the library and thumbing through card catalogs to source a research paper! Students have access to a wealth of information online, including practice problems, instructional videos, and years of published texts. Furthermore, most schools now offer online portals where students can access class schedules, resources, and often their grades as well. Teachers themselves frequently have their own websites with class resources and helpful links. Take advantage of these resources!
10) Put integrity and honesty first. When we use the term “academic dishonesty,” it doesn't just refer to cheating on an exam. The fact is, many students know they can find answers to assignments online, and there's always going to be a shortcut somewhere. Even if there's no risk of getting caught, successful students won't do this because they understand it will hurt their performance in the long run. Although copying an assignment might get you out of one week's homework, the results will reflect on next week's exam when the test questions aren't making any sense. Successful students understand that integrity is important, and academic success requires a large amount of individual responsibility.