Updated: Dec 28, 2020
If you’re thinking about applying to college, you probably are already more than aware of the importance of your high school GPA to the admissions process. I remember spending countless hours obsessing over that one B+ and wondering if there was still a chance to bring it up. The truth is, managing your GPA is like anything else—it takes time, hard work, and balance. If you still have a year or two left in high school, make sure you are signing up for classes that are both challenging and manageable. Push yourself, but don’t force yourself to take classes that seem too far out of your comfort zone. By taking classes you are genuinely interested in, you will have a greater chance at doing well in these classes and thus raising your GPA. Avoiding a schedule crammed with classes you feel unable to manage will not only help you manage your GPA, but will also help you manage your stress levels and mental health. Some specific ways I managed my GPA in high school were: maximizing my time by sticking to a schedule, planning ahead, and asking for help when I needed it.
1. Making a schedule:
In high school, I was on my Varsity Golf team and involved in student council, which often made my time feel very limited. In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to continue to perform to my best ability in my courses, I ensured that I dedicated at least three hours a day strictly to my school work. Having these hours set aside put my mind at ease--when I was at golf, I could focus solely on my golf game; when I was planning a school event, I could focus solely on the task at hand; when it was time to do schoolwork, I could get fully into the study-zone.
The three hours I set aside each day were spent completing homework assignments, studying, and, at times, getting ahead. Knowing that exercising, eating-well, and consistently getting a full night’s sleep was just as important to my success as was studying, I aimed to always be fully done with my schoolwork by 10:00pm. That said, you should aim to figure out a time and a schedule that works for you. Ensuring that you have 3-4 hours a day set aside just for schoolwork should both alleviate stress, and put you a step ahead of your classmates. Additionally, when you are doing work, work efficiently. Time is a resource--make sure you maximize every minute and avoid distractions.
2. Planning ahead:
Planning ahead was a huge contributor to my success in high school. I continuously kept track of big deadlines and test-dates, ensuring that I had no commitments that would conflict with my ability to succeed academically. When I did have a commitment that would potentially conflict with a deadline or exam, such as a golf-match or family event, I went to my teachers far in advance to discuss the dilemma with them. Teachers were happy to work with me to find solutions, to give me an extension, or to provide me with an alternate assignment, but this was only because I made sure to plan ahead. If you ask for an extension the day before a paper is due, odds are, you’re out of luck. Use a calendar, keep track of deadlines, and find solutions to problems before they become a reality.
Additionally, planning ahead in terms of my actual school work helped me earn the grades I wanted. If I ever had a week where I felt like I had less work than I was used to, or if I miraculously got everything done early, I would look ahead to the next week and begin getting ahead on readings, assignments, or studying. Putting a little extra time in now might save you from lots of stress later!
3. Asking for help:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! It never hurts to have a second opinion, whether it be regarding a concept you can’t seem to grasp or just for motivation and support. None of us are perfect, and working with someone who has an outside perspective can help you see things in a new light and might provide you with a path to success you hadn’t even known existed.
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