Happy 2019-2020 school year! 

Right now, you’ve either just started fall semester of high school or college, or about to very soon—which is exciting! (Oh and if you’re a college freshman who just started school, check out our incoming freshman’s ultimate guide to college!)

We at Scholly want you to have your best year yet, which means starting off on the right foot now. That’s right, many of the habits and patterns you put in place today will help set you up for success for the whole year. 

So let’s take a look at some of our favorite tips for starting off your academic year right.

1. Set Your Eyes on Supplies 

That’s the saying, right? Well, it might as well be, because when you have the resources you need for each of your classes—and have them from jump street—you’re much more likely to succeed academically.

Your teachers have put a lot of thought into the list of supplies or required materials for your classes, so please do yourself a favor and get them. Is your science teacher asking you to organize your lab reports in a binder with subject dividers? Does your English teacher require you to annotate your books with highlighters? Trust us, these materials and instructions are put in place to help you thrive!

Beyond what you’re required to get for classes, we encourage you to have fun in the supply aisle and get any supplies that will help you stay on top of things. Pencil bags, post-it notes, multi-colored pens, white out, mini staplers… the possibilities are endless! But seriously, you’ll be less stressed and have more energy to give to your academics (and social life) if you’re organized and have what you need to complete your work.

2. Use a Planner (Really!) 

We can’t stress this one enough. Whether you’re in high school or college, the fact is, you’re juggling a lot of academic work! Not to mention, extracurricular activities, social events with friends, family obligations, etc. 

Your homework assignments for school may be listed on your various class syllabi, but having all of your assignments written down in one place is key. You’ll have so much going on that even if you have a great memory, you’re bound to forget something if you don’t write it down! 

So get a planner and go through it, marking down big assignment due dates/deadlines (e.g. unit exams, major essays) and important events (e.g. football games, play rehearsals). Seeing everything visually laid out in front of you will help you stay on top of things that feel far off now (but will feel like they arrive “out of nowhere” quickly). Once you’ve written down the “big ticket” items, make it a habit to write a little to-do list for yourself every single day. These lists are for the immediate homework or activities you have to complete that day.

This helps you prioritize your work, so that you can “work smarter, not harder,” knocking out your highest priority tasks first…so that you’re not scrambling to finish work last minute or pulling all-nighters to get it done.

And listen, we like traditional assignment notebook style planners and calendars that you write in by hand, but smart phones these days are also super equipped with planning tools, including calendars that will sync to your desktop, interactive notepads, etc. So if it’s easier for you to keep track of your assignments on your phone, go for it.

3. Get Into a Routine 

Structure and a daily routine is really important for staying healthy, productive, and stress-free (and even the medical community agrees). Each person’s routine may vary though, so the key is to know yourself. 

For example, does your brain work better in the morning or at night? If it’s at night, it may behoove you to take a break after school to deprogram, eat, and re-energize before returning to homework after dinner (but don’t stay up too late!). Other students swear by calling it quits on homework by dinnertime and then getting up a little early, before school the next day, to finish homework. Either way is okay, so long as it works for you! 

Here are some other great tips for creating a routine for yourself:

Find Distraction-Free Spaces

Find a place (or places!) where you can study with minimal disruption and make it a point to study there regularly, ideally on the same days or at the same times. Is there a cafe you particularly like? A nook in the library? Make it a goal of yours to find a place where you genuinely like working and can do so easily.

Use Effective Time Management

Time management just may be THE #1 key to academic success. We’re huge fans of using pockets of down time to get ahead on homework and studying (15 minutes here, 10 minutes there) so that you have less work to take home. Small blocks of time add up, so squeeze in a little homework after you finish a test, before extracurricular activities, and so on.

You can also experiment with different time management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique which involves working for 25 minute intervals with small breaks in between. There’s also a great technique called “eating the frog,” which involves tackling your hardest or highest priority task FIRST to get it out of the way. (And if you’ve made a daily list, as suggested above, this should be easy to do!)

“Chunk” Your Studying and Homework

Breaking your larger assignments or study sessions into smaller, more manageable chunks of time will help you stay out ahead of your work. Remember, it is ALWAYS best to be working ahead on work that’s due farther out than trying to play catch-up or finishing work last minute. If you have an exam on Friday, for example, it’s better to study a few minutes a day for the week leading up to it rather than cramming the night before. If you have an essay to write, build it one paragraph at a time instead of trying to crank the whole thing out at once. Your brain will thank you!

Use Your Weekends Wisely

If you’re productive with academic work on the weekends, your weekdays won’t feel quite as stressful. On the other hand, the weekends are also a good time to rest. And to see friends! A good rule of thumb is to try to divide your time into thirds split among school work, rest, and social time. Balance is key and if you can implement it early on, you’ll prevent a roller coaster-like schedule down the line.

Limit Screen Time 

We know, it’s hard. But this is a biggie. We’re not saying don’t ever spend time on your cellphone or binge your favorite shows, but most of us aren’t aware of just how much time time we’re spending on our trusty devices. Try setting reasonable limits and keeping to them. One way to do so is to set notifications on your social media apps to inform you when you’ve spent a certain amount of time on them.

Oh, and it REALLY helps to set aside your cellphone while you’re doing homework. You can take regular breaks to check it, but having it next to you will almost certainly slow you way down on your work!

4. Rest and Rejuvenate

In the bustle of school and social lives, it can be hard to remember to rest! But ample rest is critical for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Get enough sleep at night starting TODAY and your stress-management and productivity will be much, much higher.

5. Get the Support You Need

If you need additional academic support, speak up! MOST students need some additional help, whether it’s from their teachers, peers, or tutors. Ask questions in class and ask your teachers to meet with you after school or during their free periods if you need more face time. Visit your school’s tutoring or witting center. Ask a friend or peer you trust to help explain a concept or problem to you. The point is: don’t wait until it’s too late and you’ve fallen behind (or your grades have slipped) before seeking help!

And of course, the Scholly Platform is here to help! Use Scholly Editor to proof and improve all of your written work and use Scholly Math to get instant, step-by-step solutions to virtually any math problem so you know why the answer is right. These apps won’t just provide you immediate support; they’ll also help to make you an increasingly stronger student over time!