This is going to be long and boring (and hopefully helpful) so let’s goooo!!
1. Things to keep in your backpack
- One or more binders for handouts and such
- 4 notebooks (or how many ever classes you’re taking - in Canada, it’s 4 per semester)
- A large pencil case; lots of people will tell you that you only need a few supplies, but I’d agree to disagree (see below)
- Makeup kit (see below)
- A planner; I recommend Ban.do because it’s just too cute
- A laptop; some teachers talk so fast you need to type what they’re saying
- Plastic folders; okay, these saved my life. Some teachers dislike this because they’re boring and annoying (haha) but many love them! Spice up your project or just multiple homework pages by sticking them in a folder
- Phone + charger
- Money; you never know when you’ll need that $$$
2. Things to keep in your pencil case
- At least 4 pens; (I have 6 however - 3 black, 2 blue, and one red) Muji is excellent, I personally find them very smooth to write with
- 5-10 pencils; that might sound like a lot but thEY JUST DISAPPEAR
- Some type of fine liners; I’m not artistically inclined by any means but I use my Staedler Triplus fine liners to make my notes pop and doodle some bad (but colourful) diagrams
- At least 4 highlighters; I recommend the Muji double ended highlighters because the clear tip lets me see what I’m highlighting and where to stop as well as it has a marker on the back which I’m obsessed with using in my planner
- A black sharpie; some surfaces aren’t easy to write on with pen or pencil or even highlighter markers so keep a Sharpie in case you need to do some labelling!
- An eraser; sorry homie, you can’t be perfect all the time
- Sticky notes + page flags; I don’t actually see how it’s possible to not use these in high school. I have a pack of 500-page flags that I am fanatic about. Guys!! You’ll read more below but I cannot stress how important it is to mark up important pages in your notes, textbook, or lit book!!
- Flash cards; you may not be a flash card person but I recommend still carrying them, because if you can spare 5 minutes to write some important key terms and definitions, flashcards are much easier to tote around for on-the-go studying than a notebook
- Graph paper sticky notes; so useful!! bc what’s more annoying than having to always keep our graphs on a seperate piece of paper - oh yeah! nothing.
- Muji weekly stickies; these. are. amazing. it’s a very small weekly spread with adhesive on the back. You’re probably like “why would you need that if you have a planner???” WELL - what I like to do is to stick this on the front of my planner (I change it every week and write only the quizzes or tests I have. That’s it. Nothing else. No assignments or homework or clubs blah blah blah. Only tests. My monthly planner spread can get super busy or overwhelming so keeping track of my tests is beyond easy with those stickies
- A mini stapler; it sounds really unnecessary but I find myself using this on the go SO MUCH. I really recommend you get one!
3. Things to keep in your makeup kit
Obviously, this is only for those who want to wear makeup to school; I am in no way implying that you need to because tbh I’m fresh faced most of the time!
- Lip balm; your lips can be hydrated and sleek whenever, super important!
- Mascara; my lashes are soooooo short so I like to keep a mascara to touch up at lunch
- Nail brush (to clean under nails); ok guys be honest with yourselves; if you’re not wearing nail polish, it’s really easy to see any dirt or food that gets stuck under your nail (I know it’s gross but just use the nail brush and deal with it!)
- Ibuprofen; cramps? headache? any form of pain? A low dosage of ibuprofen is super helpful. Sometimes my cramps are intolerable but I can’t let that get in the way of my education!
- Pads/tampons; ladies. just keep some. there’s nothing worse than the panic of not having one or having to ask a bunch of people for one
- Hair spray (or product); this one might be more just for me because my hair is curly and big so I need to put some shine spray or product to calm it down (I pray for whoever sits behind me sometimes)
4. How to take good notes
Note taking is a crucial part of student life here are some tips!
- Write EVERYTHING; often teachers put stuff on the board and I’m like “yeah that’s common sense” but it’s really not and later on, I wish I had that to refer to
- Highlight, don’t colour; the way I see highlighting, you should be able to look at what you’ve highlighted and understand the concept without knowing examples and details about it
- Develop a highlighting key; BRO DON’T USE TOO MANY COLOURS - your key should be able to be memorised with ease, I suggest 3 colours maximum (example: pink = important dates, yellow = key info, blue = term, followed by definition)
- Make sure your titles/headings are bold and noticeable
- Date your notes; yeah, take them out to dinner lmao. No but seriously, whether or not your notes are already in perfect order (if you’re using a notebook), you still need to know when you took what note for later reference
- Leave space between different concepts; don’t squish all your info together, it’s much better for our brains to be able to identify one piece of information at a time!
- Make them pretty IF YOU HAVE THE TIME; I can’t stress this one enough. Yes, making your notes pretty motivates you. Yes, it could be easier to remember the info. But, if you have limited time and are spending it trying to make your notes aesthetically pleasing, NO. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing
- When taking notes out of a textbook, never copy a definition 100%; the first thing you should do, is write your own definition. This is so important because looking back at past years, the definitions that stick out to me the most are the ones I wrote myself. Textbooks try to make definitions a lot of complicated like it’s not that deep boo
5. Bumping that GPA. I mean, by a lot.
You guys want to know a secret? I’m not an A student. I know I can be but I have not been working myself to my full potential. So take it from one average person to another, bumping your GPA is absolutely do-able. Here’s how:
- Cut out all social media, except one. If you quit social media cold turkey, you’ll want it more. Leave yourself an app to go to for fun, but you will have to make lots of sacrifices to get to where you deserve to be
- GO TO CLASS; I ditched a ton of days last year and you know where that got me? Behind.
- Don’t rely on others’ notes; okay, if they’re your best friend, I get it, but you need to have faith in yourself. You can take awesome notes.
- Do your frickin homework; If I had a dollar for every test question that was pulled straight from the homework, I’d be rich. Why wouldn’t you do your homework? Want to watch that TV show? Well I guarantee you, it’s not worth it
- With that being said, also give yourself credit and time; there is no immediate improvement. It’s a lot of work. Respect yourself and your body during the process
- Know what you want; make a life plan. A lot of people would say that a life plan can stress you out too much but it’s so much easier to motivate yourself if you know what you want. It’s okay not to know, just jot out a small plan!
- Ask for help; this is absolutely my greatest weakness. I need to learn to ask for help when I need it. After a year and a half, I’m never seeing these people again. Who cares if it was a “dumb question”, it’s better to know than to not. So let’s make a deal friends! You ask questions when you need to and I will too!
6. First day of classes
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Smell nice. Be early.
- As soon as I get my schedule, I use the app Phonto to list my classes in order and which room they’re in. Then, I save it and set it as my lock screen so all I have to do is turn my phone on to see where I have to go! (I swear by this)
- SIT AT THE FRONT; oh my gosh. I sat at the back this year because my friend lured me there and I regretted it so much. Everyone talked, I couldn’t hear, I had trouble taking notes, etc. JUST SIT AT THE FRONT. Being so close to the teacher will prevent you from slacking or going on your phone. Also, you’ll hear them clearly and they’re more prone to like you. ALSO: if you are nervous about asking questions; while the class is working you can simply lean forward and ask your teacher a question!
- Bitches get stitches, not good grades; okay lol this is my dumb made up motto, but it’s true. If someone is focusing all their energy on you, let them! Focus your energy on school and grades. They can bitch and spread rumours all they want, but you’ll have excellent grades and be able to get as far away from them as you want. High school drama is childish
- Befriend some people in your classes if you don’t already know them; get some phone numbers in case you’re sick. You need notes and info and all that so find someone trustworthy and make a lil pact about notes
- Be nice to your teacher; teachers are human and therefore can’t help being swayed by kind actions. No, you can’t smile your way into getting an A+ but for example, my English teacher and I became friends sort of and at the end of the year, she offered me an assignment that nobody else was doing to bump my mark and it did! Yes, it’s unfair to others but kindness pays off!
- Don’t use your locker; everyone probably is shook right now haha but if your stuff isn’t too heavy, you should just bring it with you at all times. It’s so easy to forget things in your locker at the end of the day. Just do yourselves a favour and carry your stuff
7. How to stay motivated
- Remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing
- Think of yourself in 10 years
- Make sure to give yourself study breaks that you can look forward to
- Study/do homework in different environments; it’s easy to become stir crazy or lazy if you’re always working in the same spot
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a cold shower or splash your face with cold water
- *IMPORTANT* As a woman of colour, I fully understand that women like me have struggled in the past to even be allowed to get an education and I know that there are places in the world now where that’s still not allowed. I need to remind myself that going to school is not a chore, it’s a privilege that many would kill for
- Have a non-reliant study buddy; have someone to help motivate you to study but don’t rely on them or else you’ll only want to work with them
- Imagine how happy your parents will look to see their child succeed
8. How to properly use a planner
Every planner comes with a monthly view and a daily view. Here’s the way I organise my stuff:
- Assignment due dates
- Spirit days
- Cardio classes
- Fun days w/ friends
- Clubs, councils, etc.
- All the stuff from the monthly view but written smaller
- To-do lists
- Time management
- TV shows
- Countdown to _______
9. How to get involved
I’m not sure how other countries have it but in Canada, we need to complete 40 hours of community service to graduate. More hours = better scholarship opportunities! Here are some places to volunteer:
- Your own schools/nearby schools
- City events (downtown)
- Retirement home
- And many more, ask any of your local places if you can volunteer!
Also, clubs are super important! Here are some easy/fun clubs for those busy bees to join:
- Environment club; ayyyy - I’m in that
- Gay-straight alliance
- Free the children
- Student government
- Debate team
- Drama council
10. Should you get a job?
My parents and I have different views on this and after a lot of talking about it, I’m comfortable with my position. I don’t think getting a part time job before senior year is beneficial. Yes, you learn the value of money and dealing with others but work schedules tend to be unpredictable, and so much of that time working can be spent bettering yourself and your academic standing. Also, I put volunteering before working because volunteering is a selfless act and universities are more impressed by the selfless amount of hours you put in versus a job you have. However, summer jobs are excellent and also really good to put on university applications! Work during the summer and (in my opinion) once you’ve applied to university because from that point onwards, it’s about maintaining your grades. If you feel you can’t do it, quit your job. If you can work towards a scholarship, you’d save more money than you’d make having a job.
11. Study Music!!!!
Studying while listening to music is a big debate. It works for some, is awful for others; but I personally prefer doing one or the other depending on the subject. You need to find your own music balance - here’s mine:
Music: subjects like history, geography, biology, and law
Music: subjects like math, physics, chemistry, English
Well, that concludes my grossly long post. To those who actually read the whole thing, wow thanks! I hope it was helpful :)