How to Start Your Semester Strong

on January 12, 2018

There’s a reason we all prize getting off on the right foot — it’s a lot easier to jump higher if you’ve pushed off from your dominant foot. In some ways, we’re about to tell you to forget about last semester but, before that, let’s acknowledge what kind of semester it was. And that’s step one: evaluate how you did.


We all know that grades aren’t everything, but they are helpful in this instance. Did your grades improve, stay the same, or drop? If they stayed the same, then you’re maintaining a certain grade average. Is that the grade average you want to be at? If they improved, firstly, congratulations! If they’re not quite where you want them to be yet, but you’re climbing up, then you have to keep on truckin’ along. If they dropped, we have to do a not-fun thing: answer the question of why. It’s really something only you can do, but we’ll go through a few of the top reasons that grades sometimes drop.


  • Was it a very difficult class that you’re continuing to struggle with?

  • Did you have a family- or health-related issue?

  • Were you focusing on friends?

  • Is an afterschool activity taking up a lot of time?


Alright, have you done it? Analyzed your performance? Good. Now, let’s go through some ways you can improve or maintain those grades, whichever is your goal (though we at Cappex vote that “improve” should always be top fiddle).


1. Keep a Planner


It’s not hard, we promise. There are even several different kinds to choose from depending on how you like to keep your schedule. We’re fan favorites of the planners that give you a full page per day! Mark down your homework assignments in each class, as well as the dates for tests. Schedule in study time, work hours, and fun time. The benefit here is that you’ll quickly see where you’re overloaded with stuff to do. You can space things out and (hopefully) get 8 hours every night. #goals


2. Take Notes in Class


Whether you prefer to have different notebooks for each class or like to write all of your notes in the same spiral, it’s a good habit to get into. Not only will it help you in high school, but you’ll be off to a good start for college, too. 


3. Ask for Help


If you’re struggling despite trying everything to bring up your grade, never be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your teacher to identify which area of the subject is giving you the most trouble and see if they can assist you. If you need weekly tutoring, many high schools provide options for that as well. You can also take advantage of our tech-savvy age and utilize online resources!


Just for emphasis: Do not wait until the day before the big exam to ask for help. Like most things in life, it’s better to start early. And there’s no shame in asking for help, so never feel self-conscious about seeking it out.


4. Set Yourself Up for Success


This may seem obvious, but it’s worth saying. Find a backpack that functions — not just looks nice. Buy folders or a folio and label them to stay organized. Eat breakfast. Sleep eight hours. You don’t expect your car to run without gas or your phone to stay powered on all day if it hasn’t been properly charged. Take care of yourself so that you’re prepared to take the day head-on. Most people are surprised to find how much of a role sleep, eating, and exercise habits play in information retention and attention span (especially if you have history first hour and there are a lot of dates to remember)(yikes!).


Creating these good habits in high school will put you a step above the rest when you enter higher education. It’ll also help you become a life-long learner and keep your brain sharp. Start your semester — and the rest of your life — strong by adopting these habits and finding out what works best for you along the way! Happy learning!

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