The Ketochi

Quincy’s Declassified Back-to-School Survival Guide

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This year, get off on the right foot.

This year, get off on the right foot.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

This year, get off on the right foot.

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Brrring! That much noise this early in the morning can only mean one thing – you’re headed back to school.

Now, we all know going back can be hard. Not only are you dealing with the unwelcome wake-up call of your alarm clock, but you also have to worry about classes (and your assignments), sports, friends, extracurriculars …the list goes on.

But don’t worry (at least, not too much)!  This guide will help you get back into the swing of school in no time.

Get all the supplies you need. That doesn’t mean one pencil and a sheet of paper you borrowed from the girl sitting behind you. It means either a big binder filled with notebook paper and page dividers or a binder or notebook for each class, at least five pencils and two pens, a folder for homework and those loose papers for your parents to sign, a planner – if that’s your thing – or some kind of calendar if it’s not, all your books, and your passwords and codes for any computer classes you might have. There are always extra supplies around – check with a counselor or teacher if you need school supplies. If you tend to forget things, writing passwords down until you memorize them is a good plan. Just don’t let them fall into the wrong hands. 

Know your school. Find out where your classes are in advance and walk around the school until you know how to get to them. First day confusion is okay. Fifth day is not. Ask around and find shortcuts and less traffic-filled halls to get around more quickly and easily. Freshmen, you have a leeway of about three days before people start making fun of you for standing stock still in the middle of the hallways and staring at nothing. Don’t be that kid. Same goes for you, upperclassmen. It’s just a matter of respect to keep the hallways clear for everyone. If you need help with your locker, ask, and you shall receive. I couldn’t open my locker without help for almost two weeks freshman year. I got there in the end, but we all have to start somewhere.

Talk to your teachers. Ask them about the classes you’re taking and make sure that they’re the right ones for you. Please, please read the syllabus first.  I promise, it will answer 95% of your questions before you even ask them, and teachers work hard to put them together. Find out what the homework policy is, how much tests and quizzes are worth, how you’re graded, what makeup work you’ll have to do, and what the class rules are. If you have a strong foundation on which to start your classes, they’ll be much easier later in the year.

Balance your schedule. It’s not good to find out that you have way too much on your plate halfway through the semester, especially if you’re just going into high school or you’re an upperclassman. Things are about to seriously change for you, and you don’t want to be overloaded. I know it’s tempting to sign up for every sport and club out there, but make sure that you can handle everything you have planned for the year in addition to your classes. If you’re in doubt, keep it on the easier side. Take a study hall or drop a club, and schedule in some fun or relaxation. It’s better to not have a breakdown than to have ten different activities on your resume. The college will probably still accept you.

Get your head in the game. First off, try new things and find out what you’re into, especially if you’re just getting into high school. There are a whole lot of options, and you’ll never know if you like something if you don’t experiment. Are you already in a sport or club? Find out how much time you’re going to need to stay in the game (both literally and figuratively). There’s nothing worse than committing to something and then finding out that you either don’t like it or can’t keep track of everything you need to do. Schedule the events that you have, like games or competitions, as soon as possible, and try to keep them from conflicting. Don’t forget to have fun, even when you’re dying on the practice field or sweating over a competition.

Stay organized. Plan in advance. Plan in advance. Plan in advance. If you only learn one thing in high school, this should be it. Keep track of all your assignments and figure out when you’re going to do them. Try to keep your locker clean (I know it’s a struggle, but you’ll actually be able to find things). Keep a good notebook for each class — it makes finals and big tests a breeze. Again, get your events into a calendar so you can keep track of them. Talk to your parents and organize doctor and dentist appointments. If you’re an upperclassman with standardized tests and college deadlines in your future, start planning study times and application and scholarship writing right now. It’s far better to be too early than too late.

Spend time with your friends (but not too much). It might sound like a cliché, but the focus of school is to learn. That’s why you’re here, so don’t waste your class time gossiping with your friends. But don’t make school your whole life, either. Keep a healthy balance. Talk to your friends at lunch, in the hallways, or after or before school. They’ll help with stress and problems in your life in a huge way. If you get into a fight, it’s not the end of the world. Talk to your friend and figure out what went wrong, then decide how to solve the issue. There’s no shame in asking a parent, teacher, or counselor to help, either.

Utilize the resources you have. On that note, all of the adults I just rattled off want to support you. If you need help in a class, talk to a teacher. If you need help with stress, college applications or scholarships, or emotional issues, your counselor is at the ready. (And counselors won’t breathe a word to anyone if you ask them not to).  If you need almost anything at all, your parents will be there. There’s a weird stigma about needing help with anything in high school, and I’m here to tell you that it’s really, really stupid. Teenagers need possibly the most help of any age group, and you can’t do it alone. Seriously. Good news: you don’t have to! Kids in grades above you or your friends can help with homework or give you advice if you don’t feel comfortable asking an adult, but older people won’t judge you either. They’ve been through the same stuff as you, even if it doesn’t feel like it, and most of the time they’ve actually got some pretty good words of wisdom on the subject. If something serious is going on, please tell a trusted adult. It’s easier to keep it a secret, but I promise that you’ll be a lot better off with a support network.

Have fun. School isn’t meant to be a torture chamber. Stay positive and try to have a good time. If you have a bad stretch or school is just not the best place for you in general, plan something fun to do each day. It doesn’t have to be big, like flying to Paris or visiting the biggest chocolate factory in the world, but just something that you love. Cuddle with your pet or watch an episode of your favorite television show. Take a bath or a hike, or eat a couple extra pieces of candy. You’ll be shocked by how much it helps.

Good luck! Follow this guide and work hard, and this school year will be the best one yet!

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Quincy’s Declassified Back-to-School Survival Guide