Tips for Success in School

The purpose of this page is to provide you with multiple resources, strategies, and research-based evidence for improving your academic performance in school in a healthy, sustainable way.

Below, you'll find a collection of articles, presentations, and videos to help you develop the skills you'll need to be successful in high school. Additionally, those skills will serve you well in your post-high school life, whether it's college, trade school, career, or service. Keep in mind that these resources rely on scientifically-based research, so the information within them is valid and reliable.

And by all means, don't stop here! Do your own research, considering the sources of course, and discover these skills for yourself. You'll become a better student, perform better in school, and have a greater sense of pride and self-esteem.

Developing Good Review & Revision (Study) Habits

Effective review techniques is probably the single most influential set of skills a student can develop. Unfortunately, in my experience, it's also the set of skills that is least developed. Poor reviewing skills can lead to anxiety about academic performance and is likely contributing to poor time management, demonstrating an unhealthy school-life balance. Use the resources below when considering how you engage in reviewing your school material.

Of course, good reviewing requires good note-taking. Below are also some effective strategies you can use to get the most out of your notes as you make them, and as you use them later when you review.

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Developing Your Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is that mode of thinking - about any subject, content, or problem - in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them. Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use and it entails effective communication and problem solving abilities. (from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008)

Anxiety - Coping and Overcoming ... not Avoiding and Validating

Anxiety - like fear - is hardwired into who we all are as animals. It's designed to alert us to, and protect us from, a threat to life and limb. It triggers an emotional and physiological response: rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, maybe even upset stomach, and a feeling of imminent doom. However, anxiety is a bit different as it is a response to a perceived danger - not a real one.

In school, anxiety usually revolves around assignments, due dates, and of course: tests. It manifests itself by students re-doing assignments over and over to achieve their concept of perfection. Students will ask for due date extensions on assignments or will be absent, but only on test days. By permitting the due date extension or excusing the test day absence, the perceived danger is validated. It confirms to the student that the danger might actually be real, and the avoidance is justified.


Building a Healthy School-Life Balance

For many students, finding a balance between their academic, extra-curricular, and personal lives is a challenge. They have the view that they have to take many AP classes, get involved with lots of clubs and ASB, play a number of sports (in both fall and spring), and volunteer outside of school. The motivation behind this is the false believe that they, and parents, have about what a college's expectations are regarding students they're willing to admit to their institution. In fact, colleges aren't as impressed by a haphazard buffet of those things mentioned above. Not only that, but an unhealthy, unbalanced approach to school and life can lead to poor self esteem, disappointment, and depression.