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Staying on the Balance Beam: A High School Survival Guide through Organization

When we were younger, our perception of balance was limited to a game of hopscotch, make it through all of the numbered boxes chalked onto the concrete outside without falling and win. With time, however, that grid only grew bigger and bigger, the numbers increasing, and the chances to fall with them. Specifically, with the high school years, the amount of responsibilities grows immensely and the closer and closer we get to determining college deadlines and/or other requirements, the easier it is to make a mistake(s) and fall of that metaphorical balance beam.

I’m currently a junior in high school, a year commonly referred to as the “most important”, “critical”, or my personal favorite – “He11 Year”. Up until now, I can honestly say that I didn’t do my very best organization-wise, something that really hindered my progress. “Luckily” for me, my procrastination didn’t mess me up too badly but regardless, had I worked as I do now, I would be in much better shape. Here are some of the fool-proof (tried and tested by me) tips to maintaining your high school career and then on.

Planning and Leadership

Agenda Book=BFF – Okay, so maybe not your literal best friend but it will no doubt be a big help. In prior years, my agenda book would lie around somewhere empty or sit crumpled in the bottom of my backpack, only being taken out whenever there was some big assignment due the next day that I couldn’t put off any longer. With that, I’d constantly find myself not knowing what the homework was or when each of my teachers was testing. While the element of surprise kept me on my toes, my grades weren’t as exciting. I’d scramble to get something written on my homework sheet before the teacher would come around, I’d walk into classes and have mini-panic attacks when I’d realize we had a test I “didn’t know” about. Now, during my junior year, the workload is far from light and at its utmost importance- I was basically forced to write homework and other “to-do” tasks down.

Now, my agenda book looks like a colorful mess, completed homework crossed out with every week being a different highlighter color, doodles in the margins. Aesthetics aside, using my agenda book has taken a massive load off of my shoulders being that now I don’t have to rely on memory alone to know what page from what textbook for which class was the homework on top of everything else I need to keep track of.

Get Yourself a Calendar – I’m not saying you need to go out to the store and buy yourself a calendar (though it wouldn’t be the worst), you have one on your phone! Like I said, with the number of important errands to remember and attend to, the memory ends up throwing something out to make room for something else. You may be like me and hate getting hundreds of notifications on your phone throughout the day so imputing every single date might not be your way to go.

When it comes to something like school tests/due dates, sticking to your agenda book may be best. For the most critical of deadlines, however, like signing up for the ACT/SAT, attending a meeting with your guidance counselor, or finishing and sending in your common application on time I would say to stick to your phone. A paper calendar can’t send you notifications, and nor do you spend as much time looking at a piece of paper as you do your phone. Notifications in mind, I’m sure a ping or two from time to time is bearable if they can help maintain your future.

Ask for HELP – While you should never be afraid to reach out to someone for help, right now I’m placing the emphasis specifically on getting help with maintaining your junior/senior year schedule. While the best option with the highest success rate would be hiring a college advisor, most reputable advisors come at a hefty cost (anywhere from $2,000+). However, for those who are able and willing to pay, their college advisor will be their own personal agenda book, calendar, and “college coach”-so to speak.

Your college advisor will help give you insight into what colleges would be best for you, aid you in completing all your applications in the most organized, concise way possible, and will serve as your personal search engine. However, this becomes a 2-person job, and if you don’t carry your weight, your experience won’t be as rewarding as possible. If a private college advisor is unavailable to you, the next best (and most affordable) option is the school’s college advisor. Though he/she may be busy, they will make time for you and being that this is their profession, they will have the answers to all your questions.

Take some time and invest it in yourself! Your future self will thank you for it!


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