How I Handled a Rigorous Course Schedule in High School

Student Life

One of the most stressful things in high school is academics.

For some people, like myself, we decide the year prior to sign up for four to six AP and honor classes, thinking, “It won't be that bad, right?” However, once school starts, chaos begins.

On average, for a week, I need to complete one essay, study for three tests, read fifty pages for AP Government, and somehow squeeze in the time for the twenty or so clubs I joined on a whim.

And, of course, we can't forget about sports. For me, playing tennis took up two to three hours each day during the season, leaving me with only the time before school and after six to do homework and figure out what a periodic table really is.

Yet, somehow I'm still alive without having a mental breakdown every single day. For any student who is struggling to handle a rigorous course load, here are some of my tips and advice for making it out alive and well through your academic schedule.

#1 Make a schedule

The first thing I always do when I get a due date for an assignment is write it down. Personally, I love using sticky notes and just putting them on my computer because I won't ever be able to open my laptop without seeing my list of things I need to do before a certain date.

For tests, I like to keep a weekend open just so I can have enough time to study if I don't have time during the school days, which I normally don't. There are two dollar planning journals in any store you enter where you can invest in a fancy planner.

Or, if you're not interested in having something sparkly and pretty, there are paper notebooks that cost twenty-five to fifty cents at Walmart, depending on where you live. Just have a way to make a schedule of all your assignments. It will help in long run.

#2 Stop Procrastinating

In freshman year, I would always leave my work unfinished, coming up with excuses or deciding to watch YouTube videos. Every single day before a test, I would stay up in my room, watching my teacher's math videos going over a concept I should've learned when it was assigned.

Let me tell you: tears were shed while watching those videos.

Does this sound familiar? The night before your English essay is due, you also realize you have two tests tomorrow as well as twenty pages of history notes to do. By the time class starts, your essay is poorly written, and during your tests, your brain is more focused on how much sleep you didn't get than the question on your paper about cell membranes.

Do yourself a favor: get your work done. Both your grades and your sleep deprived brain will be grateful.

#3 Do your assignment the day of

For many students, they don't know when they should complete an assignment. Some like to push it off until the weekend, or some don't even do it until that day before, which I mentioned previously is a recipe for disaster.

For me, I like doing the reading or essay draft as soon as class ends. There's usually a good twenty minutes between sports practice and when the bell goes off for the last class of the day. For any athletes out there, use those minutes instead of playing Among Us or scrolling through Snapchat to do your streaks.

By doing your assignment the day of, not only can you review the information that the teacher was talking about, you also get time to ask questions in class, something I never got when I procrastinated.

#4 Use your weekends

I'm not telling anyone that they need to get rid of their social life. If you want to hang out with friends on a Sunday night, feel free. However, keep in mind that if you have three tests on courses that you don't know very well, maybe you shouldn't go watch the latest Disney movie or binge-watch Grey's Anatomy at your best friend's house.

You can hang out with your friends another day. Your test, however, can not be taken later, unless you have a valid excuse. But for most people, they will take their test on the given test day.

#5 Email and talk to your teacher when you need help

Personally, I've never felt scared or intimidated from talking to my teacher, so it's relatively easy for me to stay after class and ask my teacher for help on a problem or a concept.

But for those of you who aren't comfortable talking to your professor, emailing is also a choice.

If you don't understand a homework question, make sure to reach out to your teacher. They're probably really friendly and will spend some time with you to go over your answer and explain why it is wrong.

Now that we're having virtual school, it's even easier to reach them since most teachers tend to stay in their zoom a couple of minutes after class. They also will be on their email more often since that's their best way of communicating with students. For my school, we even have a time period after school designated to emailing our teachers questions.

#6 Do extra practice questions

I know. No one likes more work. I don't either, but when I was struggling with ideal gas laws in chemistry, doing the questions in the back of my chemistry textbook really helped. If your school doesn't provide textbooks, there's a lot of free resources online. Here's a few you can search up:

  • Chemistry/Physics - TheOrganicChemistryTutor YouTube (his videos are the best)
  • Khan Academy (the place for everything)
  • SparkNotes (perfect for translating confusing readings like Romeo and Juliet)
  • Quizlet (perfect for making flashcards to go over previous questions you've already done)

And, of course, if you can't find anything you want online or don't have access to internet at home, you can always go to a local library to borrow books over an AP class you're taking or borrow from your school's library. Your teachers are also a great source for information and practice questions.

I hope reading this article has provided you with some information or ideas on how to improve your study habits in order to tackle your academic schedule this year. Remember that reaching out to email your teachers is a great way to start if you're struggling in a class.

If you're struggling in a class, just know there are many resources available to help. The study habits you gain from your intense schedule will not only follow you into college and your job but for the rest of your life.

And, just know that if you're facing a lot of difficulty from your classes because you took the hardest classes your school offers, the classes you take next year will be easier.

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Annie Pan

Annie Pan is a junior in Ladue Horton Watkins High School. Her hobbies include playing piano, writing, and reading realistic fiction. Her favorite snack is cotton candy grapes.


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