Teen Talk 6-17

Summer is over and it’s time to go back to school. Are you really ready to go back? While it seems that none of us really are, there are some who can’t wait to get the year over with. Well, whether you are ready to go back or not, I have some tips to help keep this school year stress free and fun. There are even some extra hints for seniors. So read on …you never know my tips might help you have a successful school year.

1. Preparing for a successful school year: Believe it or not, planning for a successful school year has everything to do with your attitude and your ability to be positive about the days that are ahead. Develop a plan. Strategize your school year. You can do this by making sure that you balance your schedule. Choose electives that compliment your personality and really reflect who you are and want you want to be. Make sure that you are on schedule with meeting your mandatory requirements. If you are not a morning person, I suggest that you avoid taking your hardest subjects in the morning. Preparation also requires that you work with your parents Avoid giving your parents’ documents to sign at the last minute. Give them time to ask questions and sign documents without feeling rushed. It’s been my experience that I achieve stress free mornings when I don’t add to my parent’s stress. If your plan includes extra curricular activities, be sure to place all of the practice and competition times in your overall schedule.
2. Go to all of your classes and try your hardest to be on time. Attendance is one very important factor in having a good school year. All it takes is to miss a few classes and then you’re behind. Once you’re behind it’s hard to catch up. Go to class on time. Teacher’s pay attention to a student’s attitude regarding their class. Sometimes being late consistently gives the teacher the impression that you are not taking the class seriously. You never know what extra work your teacher may give at the very beginning of class. Remember: The early bird catches the worm.
3. Stay organized. Organization is a key to success. If you stay organized your days will run more smoothly. Stay organized by keeping a daily planner; write down all of your assignments. This keeps you from forgetting anything important.
4. Be friendly to your peers and teachers. (It is okay to be liked by your teachers!) Nobody likes to be around someone who is mean and has a nasty attitude. Teachers certainly do not tolerate students with bad behaviors. My suggestion: Be nice and keep a smile on your face. It helps to keep tension out of the classroom. Be respectful of your peers and teachers. And always be open-minded.
5. Turn in all of your homework on time. Turning in homework alone can help you earn a good grade in a class. And teachers almost always use the homework they assign to write their tests. Homework is supposed to be used as practice to help prepare you for the test. So, just do it!
6. Study for all of your tests and quizzes. It’s best to set time aside time each night after doing homework to review your note and previous assignments. If you do this, you will almost always be prepared for any pop quiz or test that the teachers might spring on you. However, if you are a true procrastinator, at least study the day before because it gives you sometime to make sure you know the material. When you cram right before the test you are less likely to remember the information. Just make sure you study the night before and then go over the information again before the test if time permits.
7. Stay out of trouble. Familiarize yourself with your school’s code of conduct and code of ethics. Just follow all of the rules and do what you’re told. If you do that then your parents will be happy. Your teacher will be happy. And you may reap some benefits.

Tips for Seniors

Now I have some special tips for the seniors out there. 2008 is my senior year so I have a clue about what the seniors are going through. I’m going to tell you all of the things that I have learned to help keep this year stress free.

1. Keep a folder containing copies of your transcript and ACT/SAT scores. If you keep these copies on hand it will be much easier for you when you begin filling out applications, scholarships, or talking to admission directors. When asked for a copy you will have it right there and you won’t have to try to track down your counselor for a copy and risk missing a deadline.
2. Make sure you know your social security number. College applications require this information when you are filling them out for admission. When registering for the ACT or SAT they request your social security number, whether you give it to them is optional.
3. Get a calendar to keep track of important dates. You should get a calendar and write down any deadlines that you may have for applications or scholarships. If you keep it on the calendar and review the calendar frequently you can ensure that you won’t miss any deadlines and complete things in a timely matter.
4. Do your research. While looking for a college to attend make sure you do your research. Make sure the school offers the major you want to study. Find out how much the school costs. Make sure the school is accredited. And find out about ACT/SAT scores and the average GPA needed to get into the school.
5. Keep your grades up. Colleges will rescind your acceptance into their school if you let your grades go. This means that if you let your grades drop very low, some colleges will tell you that you cannot attend their institution in the fall even if you’ve already been accepted. So just keep the grades up to par!
6. Start collecting recommendation letters. You will need recommendation letters usually from your counselor or an academic teacher for your college applications and scholarships. It’s best to get them early because you don’t want the person who you have asked to write the letter forget, and then you miss a deadline. Also, when you ask someone to write a recommendation letter for you, you might want to ask them to write a general recommendation so that it can be used for more then one institution or scholarship. Be prepared to draft your own letter if requested. Don’t just ask anyone to write a recommendation on your behalf make sure the person knows your character and skills…make sure that they have something good to say about you.
7. Search for scholarships. There are several sites that you can go to in order to search for scholarships. I recommend creating a fastweb account. I get several e-mails from fastweb a day informing me of scholarships in the field that I want to study. You can also do a google search to find scholarships.
8. Visit as many colleges as you can. Try to visit all of the colleges you want to attend and even some that you don’t. Reading about a college and seeing a picture of it is much different from actually visiting the college. You may think one thing about a college and then actually get there and find out that it’s not at all what you thought it would be. So just visit to make sure you are making the right choice.
9. Get to know your counselor. Your counselor is the one who gets all of the scholarship information and if your counselor likes you he/she might let you know about ones that offer the most money. They can also write you very good recommendation letters. Believe it or not, a good Counselor advocates in your best interest. It is important that you get to know your counselor. Make your counselor aware of your dreams and aspirations he or she can be a valuable resource and a wealth of information.
10. Get your parents involved. Make sure you keep your parents up to date on what’s going on with your college search or applications. Parents can offer very good advice. And they are also the ones who end up paying for your college education if you can’t get enough scholarship money. So it’s best to keep them in tune to what’s going on so they won’t be surprised when they get the bill telling them how much it’s going to cost for you to go to school. Also, it’s nice to let your parents in on what’s going on in your life. It makes them feel good and loved that you want to share things with them.

Rodneya Ross is a senior at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, MI.