As children, one of the most famous role models on television was none other than Rory Gilmore from the 2000s drama Gilmore Girls. Rory Gilmore embodied everything young children wanted to be, and everything parents wanted their children to be.
She worked hard in school, studying her way to success in her pretentious private school Chilton and later on at Yale University. She spent a good portion of her time on-screen sitting on her living room floor revising notes or flipping through the pages of practically every novel published in the English language (and several other languages, too). Every child adored and strived to be her.
However, as children grow into teens and enter the more challenging years of their academic careers, some may feel as if they have lost their spark for learning. As “gifted kid burnout” is increasingly becoming part of our vocabularies, teens may find it hard to navigate the new school year before them successfully.
Nonetheless, I'm here to help. Whether you're dealing with burnout, harboring a lack of motivation, or overly ecstatic about entering the new school year, here are some tips to help you rekindle your spark for learning and channel your inner Rory Gilmore this year — realistically.
Develop a Strong Work Ethic
Getting good grades is one thing. However, having a strong work ethic is a completely different situation. A lot of teens may get good grades, but they often do so in unhealthy ways. What are good grades, at the expense of deteriorating mental health? Unhealthy work habits such as procrastination, perfectionism, and disorganization may not hinder one's grades, however, they do lead to burnout and lack of motivation towards work.
Developing a strong work ethic is key to being successful with one's studies. Pacing yourself by studying little by little each day is much easier and effective than constantly pulling all-nighters the night before tests. Forming discipline to do these things will go a much longer way than solely relying on motivation to study; motivation is temporary, but discipline will help in the long run.
There are many options to ease your way back into studying and heavy workloads after the summer. To create a disciplined schedule and avoid procrastination, start easy by studying in small increments and then gradually increasing the time periods.
Using the Pomodoro Technique is a good option to avoid procrastination and work alongside an organized schedule. With this technique, one will work with a deep focus for 25 minutes and then receive a 5-minute break. As you increase the amount of 25-minute sessions, the breaks will gradually increase as well, going from 5 minutes to 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Try out as many study methods as you want, and find which methods work best for you. With the right method, you should be able to study smarter, not harder.
Form a Positive Mindset Towards Learning
“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” — Steve Maraboli
To rekindle your spark to learn, you must form a healthy mindset and view learning positively. Mindsets are very important and affect how we interact with the world and ourselves.
An example of how powerful they can be is a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. These mindsets are rooted within us at an early age. People with fixed mindsets — a mindset that leads people to believe that their intelligence is “fixed” and cannot change — view learning in unhealthy ways, not allowing for them to grow or strive to be better. If a student with a fixed mindset is not good at math and hasn't been since an early age, they may believe that they will never be good at math at all, hindering them from trying their best and striving to grow. They cannot reach their fullest potential.
However, a student with a growth mindset believes that their intelligence can grow and that they can improve on their weaker areas, such as math. Not only does this mindset allow for the student to strive to become better at math and try to reach their fullest potential, but they harbor a much more positive and healthy outlook on learning and personal growth. Growth mindsets make learning more enjoyable, and people who possess them often embrace learning as a lifelong process, embrace challenges, and put in more effort.
Be Organized — Get a Planner Or Journal!
Becoming organized is the key to staying on top of due dates, time management, and forming a healthy work schedule. Planners, bullet journals, and digital platforms like calendar apps are all valuable resources to utilize. Not only will this aid in academic organization, but being organized also helps to reduce stress and anxiety. There'll be no more terrible 'project due tomorrow' realizations the night before!
Read and Enrich Your Mind
Rory Gilmore wasn't only good at school because she studied — she loved to learn in all forms! Reading leisurely outside of school is a great way to enrich and mentally stimulate your mind, as well as entertain yourself. You don't need to exclusively read Sylvia Plath or every Russian classic in its entirety, you can read whatever you like. Whether it be fantasy, cozy mysteries, or science fiction, it's all up to you to find novels you enjoy.
You don't need to read multiple books a week, read at your own pace. Try to aim for one book for a month and go on from there. If you're stuck on what to read, check out one of the many Rory Gilmore Reading Lists online!
Get Involved in Your School
Your classes aren't the only valuable asset to your education. Get involved in your school! Find your niche, whatever it may be. Look at joining clubs or sports teams that interest you and volunteer at school events. Not only do they make you a more well-rounded person, but they help teach leadership and other important skills outside the classroom.
It's also a great way to get to know like-minded people at your school who are interested in the same things you are. Join chess club, the volleyball team, book club, student counsel — it's all up to you! Even if there is no club or sports team at your school that caters to your interests, create one.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Sometimes, it's hard to ask for help when we're struggling with certain classes. However, it's really important to ask for help if you find you don't understand the material or are falling behind. Your teachers are here to help you; take up on their offer. Ask another classmate, parent, or tutor to help you if you need help. Though some people may see themselves as “above” asking for help, asking for help is one of the strongest things we can do.
On the contrary, if you find that you see another peer in your class or friend struggling, offer to help them if you know the material well enough. Taking time out of your schedule to help others can be very rewarding — not only for the person you are assisting but for yourself, too.
Schedule Leisure Time Into Your Schedule
With all this being said, do not overwork yourself to the point of burnout. It can be hard to find the line between working hard and overworking yourself. Your leisure time is just as important as your work time, so take breaks often between your work periods. Rest your mind and replenish yourself, whether it be meditating, journaling, working out, or hanging out with friends. Your mental and physical health is just as important as your academic journey, and it should not be sacrificed for school.
For the people that struggle with allowing themselves to separate their work lives from their personal lives, schedule in free time or leisure activities into your day alongside your work ones. One simple rule to prevent burnout is to schedule one thing to do for yourself each day — whether it be watching an episode of a TV show, taking a nice bath, or taking time for your hobbies. Don't ever feel guilty about taking breaks. Rory Gilmore took tons of breaks while studying! Whether it be having a movie night with her mom, or having breakfast at Luke's.
Now that you've read all these tips, hopefully, you'll implement them in your own life! Make this school year the best one you've had yet. Eventually, it'll all pay off!
Credit: Gilmore Girls / Netflix