Tips for Balancing Schoolwork and Extracurriculars

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As a senior in high school, I have often looked back on the past few years and wished I had known all of the stress-reducing tips I follow now. Talking with underclassmen has made me realize that there is one specific issue that all high school students grapple with: balancing schoolwork with extracurricular activities. Here are some tips that can help you manage your time and fulfill your responsibilities both in and out of school.

1. Set a time to sleep every night and follow it with almost no exceptions. Eight hours of sleep is the golden number, but if that is not realistic for you, take short naps to recharge quickly throughout the day.

2. Choose the extracurricular activities that you’re passionate about, and do not do “filler” activities. Instead of thinking of what will seem impressive on your resume, focus on your interests, whether it is cooking, STEM, writing, painting, or anything else.

3. In the beginning of the year, try out a multitude of activities and then narrow them down to the ones you truly have an interest in. Do not be half-in, half-out of a club; be fully committed and ready to devote a significant portion of your time to the endeavor. Also, shape your own unique identity when it comes to outside activities, and do not feel obligated to participate in an activity simply because your friends are a part of it.

4. Academics should be one of your top priorities. When considering if you should join a new club, make sure your grades are where you want them to be.

5. Meet with teachers before school, after school, and during lunch to receive extra help or just check over homework. In high school, teachers often do not check homework or review answers during class, so if you do not understand a topic, you have to take initiative and find the answer yourself.

6. Create a study group with one to five other friends for a specific class. For content-heavy classes and especially AP classes, type study guides online together that every contributor can study from.

8. Notify your teacher ahead of time if you have to miss class so you can get a heads-up on what you will be missing. Not only will you be able to prepare early, but you will also demonstrate your dedication to your teacher.

9. Students are tempted to bottle up their emotions inside out of fear that others will judge them. Talk to those you trust about your anxieties. They may be able to help you cope with stress or offer comfort in times of need.

10. If your teacher schedules a test on a day that is full of other tests, extracurriculars, and homework, ask her if she would be able to reschedule the assessment. This should be a rare occurrence, but sometimes your teacher will listen to you and reschedule if others share the same plight.

11. Write a to-do list or an agenda for the day with time slots for each item. Creating time limits for yourself will ensure that you will have enough time to complete every item on your to-do list, and it will help you avoid spending too much time on one specific endeavor.

12. Watch study-with-me videos on YouTube to find motivation to study or simply see techniques other people use to study. High school and college students frequently make these videos to inspire others and show students that they are not alone when working.

13. Keep your cell phone and other distracting devices far away while you are studying or doing homework. Checking your phone periodically and scrolling through your social media feed will shatter your concentration and make it more difficult for you to return to academic work.

14. Schedule time for fun activities! Hanging out with friends or doing a hobby can refresh your brain and give you a much-needed break from a hectic schedule. Students, including myself, often make excuses to avoid doing these activities, but you’re more likely to remember the night you spent almost ruining your favorite pair of jeans at a haunted house with friends than the evening you shared with your geometry homework and tenth cup of coffee.