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Essential skills for high school success

Keep your eye on the goal
Keep your eye on the goal

Contrary to popular belief, high school success is not simply a matter of luck. As noted by Clint Page, a writer for, there are certain skills every student needs to develop to not only achieve high school success but also success in chosen careers and in life.

A synopsis of these skills is noted below:

Time Management: No matter how much you try to stretch it, there are only 24 hours in each day. How you use those hours is what will make all the difference. While high school students typically average 35 hours a week of class time, college students normally log only 15 – 18 hours a week in class.

Before you get too excited about those extra hours, you need to learn how to best use your “free” time while in high school so you will know how to make time for study and socialization while in college. If you don’t already have one, start using a daily planner. This could be an agenda you keep in your bookbag, an online version you maintain at home, or both. If you are not careful, it is easy to over-schedule or “double-book.” If you manage your time wisely, you will get the maximum out of every day.

Good Study Habits: If you already have them, you are way ahead of the game – and most unusual. If you don’t, now’s the time to develop them. Good study habits include these basics:

  • Be prepared for class – every day. Attend classes regularly. No cutting allowed.
  • Complete assignments thoroughly – and on time.
  • Review your notes daily – do not wait to cram for quizzes/tests the night before.
  • Spend some quiet time studying every day – even those days you don’t have homework or an assigned quiz or test the next day.

Ability to Set Attainable Goals: Setting goals is important, but don’t set yourself up by setting unreasonable goals which will doom you to frustration and disappointment. On the other hand, don’t set them too low, either. Make realistic goals which are attainable, then go for them.

Concentration: Pay attention to your teacher and remain focused. Be sure you understand the lesson. Don’t hesitate to ask a question when you don’t understand something. As has been said many times before, the only dumb question is the one not asked. If you’ve been paying attention, it definitely will not be a dumb question. Besides, there will be others in the class who will be thankful you asked.

Good Note-Taking: It is impossible to write down everything the teacher says since we talk at approximately 225 words per minute. However, you do need to learn how to write down the important material.

Ensure you’ve been taking proper notes by going back over your notes after a test to see if they contained the answers to questions asked on the test. If not, you should ask to see a classmate’s notes or check with the teacher for help on how to improve your note-taking.

Studying with a partner is also a good idea as long as you study and don’t turn it into a talking session. Note-taking should be in a form that is most helpful to you. If you are more of a visual person, try writing notes on different colored index cards. Music can also be a good memory aid as long as you do not find it distracting. Rewriting your notes daily is another strategy. If you really have a problem with note-taking, you might ask your teacher if you can tape-record daily lessons.

Completion of Assignments: There is a reason teachers assign homework. While it may seem like “busywork” at times, it definitely has a purpose. Put your homework to good use. You will only get out of homework what you put into it.

Review Daily Notes: Waiting until the night before the test to review your notes is never a good idea. Get into the habit of reviewing your notes each day while the lesson is still fresh in your mind. Add any missing pieces you didn’t have time to write in class. Compare your notes with a classmate’s notes. This is not cheating – it could even be mutually beneficial. Reviewing your notes each day reinforces your learning and builds towards your ultimate goal – MASTERY of the skill.

Organizational Skills: You will save yourself valuable time and be able to do everything you need to do if you have a place for everything and everything in its place. Keep your study materials (agenda, books, calculator, laptop, notebooks, etc.) in the same convenient location.

Motivation: You must be motivated in every class, whether or not you like the teacher or subject. Self-motivation is particularly important when you are not particularly excited about a class; however, sometimes you must look at it as a means to a purpose. The sooner you can complete the classes you don’t like, the more time you will have for those you do.

Commitment: Nobody else can want your educational success for you. You must want it for you, therefore you must be the one committed to get it done with your best effort. Don’t settle for less than your best. Your commitment will pay off in the end.

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