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Preparing for High School - What To Do Before You Get There

Authored By: 
Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

Once you’ve sent in your applications and are starting to receive acceptance letters, you’re done, right?  Wrong!  Now you need to prepare yourself for what to expect in high school.  And there’s plenty of work to be done there.

Learn how to use your technology for academic, not recreational, purposes.  You probably know more about how to take great selfies on your dad’s iPad than he does.  But do you know how to take notes on a document on your iPad?  Do you know how to access the extended keyboard on your calculator app?  The more technology comes into the classroom, the more students are expected to use technology in their learning.  Make sure you know how to do more than send emojis to your BFF.

Develop a method of organizing materials for each subject/course.  Many teachers (myself included) require their students to keep notebooks that are used solely for that class.  But some people like having a binder with separate sections to keep themselves organized.  You might have greater success using a digital checklist to keep track of the assignments you’ve completed while the person sitting next to you in math class swears by her paper day planner.  It will take some trial-and-error, but keep trying until you find what works for you.

Learn how to take good notes.  Note-taking is an art that you will need for the rest of your life.  When you’re sitting in your company meeting discussing work plans for the week, you will need to take notes.  When you meet with your financial advisor to plan for your retirement, you will want to take notes.  It is virtually impossible to write down (or even type) every single work coming out of someone’s mouth.  It also isn’t useful to put down everything – notes are meant to summarize information so that you can easily see what’s important.  Practice makes perfect!

Ask your teachers where you specifically need to improve.  Everyone is different – the skills where you are strongest may not be where your lab partner is strongest.  It means that your weaknesses won’t necessarily be your best friend’s weaknesses.  You should ask you teachers what your areas of greatest weaknesses are and how to improve them.  You may not always like what they have to say, but if you are able to accept that this is all ultimately going to help you, it will make it easier.

If you feel that you are far behind other people in your grade, take some enrichment classes after school or over the summer.  This should help you feel more comfortable going into your first day of high school!

You can read the other articles in this series: What Should You Look For in a High School? and Preparing for High School - Now That You're There