Secondary Student Survival Strategies

If you have already reached that point in the year where you personally identify with the tweet, “My grades are dropping faster than my battery percentage”, I’m right there with you. High school can be a whirlwind, from grades to extra-curriculars to standardized testing, it takes all that it can throw at you, and then some. Despite this, there are things you can do to make it more bearable.



One of the most important things to keep in mind, especially during back to school time, is to stay organized. It can be difficult for some, and comes naturally for others. Whichever category you fall under, the world is full of resources to make organization easy, (or easier if you were blessed with the natural ability, in which I envy you and also believe that you are an extraterrestrial being).

1. Keep your notes and handouts in one spot.

Binders, folders, and notebooks save lives. Whatever tickles your fancy, invest in it and use it! You’ll thank yourself when it comes down to that big unit test in Biology and you need your notes from the past two units. Personally, I like using binders, as I get a lot of handouts in my classes, and I pair them with notebooks, so that I haven’t got sheets of loose leaf making a break for it in my knapsack. Big expandable file folders can also be extremely useful to store a large quantity of notes, or notes for multiple classes.

2. Keep an agenda.

As dated as this may sound, keeping an agenda can help you organize your time. When all of the tasks that you need to complete are visibly laid out for you, you’re less likely to procrastinate. Regardless of whether your agenda is physical or digital, keeping track of everything you have to get done and maintaining a schedule is quite beneficial. Most schools offer free agendas, but it’s up to you to use the method that works best for you. Just make sure you stick with it!

3. Make use of apps.

As much as we all hate to admit it, all of us spend lots of time on our phones. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, however. Tons of organization and time management apps are available on the App Store and Google Play, and they can help make your phone use more productive.

Here are a couple apps that I personally would recommend.

Forest ($1.99): Forest is an app that restricts access to your phone. You set a timer on the app, which begins planting your “tree”. If you try to exit the app, you will get a warning to go back, and if not, your tree will die, which is sad. The more productive you are, the bigger you can grow your forest, and you can earn coins to buy different tree species. The best part is that for every hour you are productive, Forest plants a real tree in a developing country, which is awesome!

Studyblue (FREE): This app is a lot like Quizlet, but I find that the layout is much more efficient. You can create your own flashcards, or search for a deck that has been created anywhere in the world for the majority of subjects. The design makes it really easy to add pictures or diagrams onto your cards, too. Once you’re done making flashcards, you can quiz yourself in many ways. There are options for multiple choice, fill in the blanks, and true or false, as well as flipping the cards traditionally. It can also make review sheets for you based on your flashcards, which can really come in handy.


Goal Setting:

A lot of people don’t really take the time to set goals, or maybe you’re like me and have been forced into it since you started school. Either way, it is important to note that setting goals can help motivate you, and give you something to work towards. Trying to set both academic and non-academic goals gives you something to look forward to in all aspects of your life. If you have trouble setting goals that you can stick with, here’s a simple template to follow which you may have heard before. Just remember the word SMART.

Specific: Is your goal clearly outlined or is there any ambiguity? What do you want to accomplish, and why? Identify what you need to do in order to achieve the goal, and what constraints may hold you back from doing so.

Measurable: How will you know when you have accomplished your goal? Are the results quantifiable in some manner?

Achievable: How will you achieve satisfaction? What are the steps you should take to accomplish your goal?

Relevant: Is this goal worth pursuing? Do you have the available resources to accomplish this goal, and is it worth your while? Does the goal line up with your long-term objectives?

Time-bound: How long will it take you to accomplish your goal? Is there a deadline? When will you work on it? Is now the right time?

Keeping these ideas in mind will help you come up with a goal that is manageable and attainable. As you set goals and achieve them, you will gain a sense of satisfaction!


Get Involved:

All schools have a plethora of different clubs and activities to take part in, and there’s always bound to be something for everyone. Joining clubs and teams not only helps you meet like-minded people, but also helps build your resume. They help you discover what you like and what you’re good at, and why not get credit for doing something you love? The skills that you develop, like communication, collaboration, and responsibility are skills that will stick with you for life. However, make sure that you don’t overwhelm yourself with too many extra-curriculars like I did in Grade 9. Balance is key! Pick a few things that you’re really passionate about and that you’re happy doing, even if your friends aren’t doing them. Maybe it’s field hockey, Model UN, symphonic band or cooking club — pursue whatever speaks to you! The types of people you will meet in clubs and teams will stick by you for all of high school. Make sure you have fun in your high school career! This is the part where you can really shine.

The truth is, high school is a rollercoaster. The ups and downs you face will eventually lead you to your future. It’s all a matter of how you handle them. With organization, goal setting, and school-wide involvement, you can really own high school and make the best of these four (or five) years of your life. Before you know it, you’ll be standing in your cap and gown, wondering where the time went.

Sky KapoorComment