With August just around the corner, our attention quite naturally turns to the changes that accompany the transition from July to August. November brings Thanksgiving and fall foliage. December brings Christmas and snow. January brings New Years, new beginnings, and new hope for the future. For families with high school students, May brings APs and SATs. So, what does August bring? Heat? Back-to-school sales? Shopping for new clothes and new computers? Yes, August brings all of these things. But perhaps more than anything else, August brings fear, uncertainty, and anxiety. For families with school-age students, the onset of the new school year means new and unknown classes, new and unknown teachers, new and unknown tests, and, in some cases, a brand-new and unknown school. Many times of transition are accompanied by uncertainty and fear. Add to this the pressure of having to compete for top grades and test scores, stellar recommendations and college essays, a spot on the varsity team and a role in the winter musical (not to mention the all-important social scene), and you have a perfect storm of nail-biting anxiety.
The realization that this is a perfectly normal way to feel does nothing to alleviate the pressure. The fact that Timmy and Tommy and Kelly and Sophia are feeling the same thing that you are feeling does not make your life any easier. Simply stated, the reasons don’t matter; it is only the symptoms that we feel that matter. We feel insecure. We feel unready. We feel uncertain. We question our ability. We question our choices. We think that teachers hate us. We feel that we have been treated unfairly. We feel that we have been put in the wrong class level—either too high or too low. In most cases, there is little we can do to change decisions that have already been made. All we can do is find ways to succeed, and in doing so, to overcome our fear of the unknown.
Once we accept the fact that we have little choice but to try our best given our circumstances, it is far more useful and intelligent to discuss how we might turn our uncertainty into success, than to lament the onset of another year of uncertainty. Here are five suggested activities for you to implement during the month of August to help maximize your potential and overcome uncertainty.
Suggestion No 1: Buy your textbooks early and read through the first few chapters of each. This will give you a better idea of what your teacher will cover at the beginning of the school year. If possible, get a copy of the teacher’s syllabus which can serve as a detailed guide to your summer pre-learning.
Suggestion No 2: Buy a Daytimer or similar advance-planning and time-management product, program, or app. Become familiar with how to use it. Generally speaking, you begin by filling in long-term projects, which eventually feed into your weekly and daily planners. Also, enter your solid time commitments such as sports practice, community service, work, internships, and any other activities outside of the realm of academics.
Suggestion No 3: Learn advanced reading techniques such as multi-word reading, survey, variable speed reading, trigger phrasing, and personalization. In addition, it would be very helpful for you to learn how to use a graphic organizer in order to capture the essence of a chapter on a single study review page.
Suggestion No 4: Read a book on writing techniques, or find a highly qualified tutor to teach you how to write in different styles and genres. Writing is important not only as a means to convey information, but also as a way to express your feelings and opinions. Even research papers don’t have to be dry. They can be infused with interesting language, metaphors and alliteration, images and observations.
Suggestion No 5: Teach yourself to be confident in every situation. There is no value in fear. There is a great deal of value in feeling confident. Those who exude confidence tend to be more successful in most situations. Furthermore, confidence breeds confidence. By acting confident you can actually become confident. In the classroom, confidence gives you the power to participate. It gives you the power to engage the teacher after class. These, in turn, can lead to a stronger classroom performance, a higher grade, and a better recommendation
These five suggestions form the basis of an advanced reading and study skills regimen proven to help students become more successful in school. Having the confidence that comes from knowing the material and how to demonstrate your successful assimilation of that knowledge through writing and presentations is among the most powerful tools available to students.
If you have questions, you may contact Neil or Mei Chyten at
NC Global Education