The Stresses of School: How to Handle the New Semester

Jourdan Zelaya, Features Editor

First semester has come and gone and along with it came something many feared: final semester grades.
To some, the end of a semester means relief as they have a fresh batch of teachers whom they get to work with once third quarter hits, a clean slate in terms of grades and, of course, new opportunities to succeed in the classroom.

However, to some, the end of the semester serves as an indicator that the year is in fact speeding up faster than they originally thought. For these students, their grades aren’t up-to-par with what they normally achieve. Some even find themselves on the precipice of earning a failing grade and either having to redo the entire class over next year or endure summer school.

Those who struggle with academics could be doing so for a variety of reasons, but let’s face it; as teenagers, we are prone to laziness. It’s just in our DNA. You tell yourself during second period in the early morning, “I will go home immediately after school and begin my homework so I don’t have to worry about it at 9 PM,” only to get home and chow down on the first snack that you see because, hey, you haven’t eaten in four hours, so you may as well treat yourself. After eating, you are tired, so you lie in bed and take maybe a three-hour nap, ultimately burning the day away in a surprisingly deep slumber only to wake and realize that you really should be working on that project that’s due next week.
Another issue is that most of us suffer from FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, which can be in large part attributed to our smartphones. We see tweets on Twitter and pictures and videos on Instagram and stories on Snapchat that make us slowly lose time during the day. While we think we don’t waste our days on our phones, in fact, we do.

According to Hayley Ysukayama, a reporter for The Washington Post, “Teens are spending more than one-third of their days using media such as online video or music — nearly nine hours on average, according to a new study from the family technology education non-profit group, Common Sense Media.” Whether it be texting or social media or Netflix, teens sure do spend a lot of their idle time scrolling away on their iPhones and Androids. This fact tells us that we’re all guilty of stroking our fingertips on a digital screen for at least nine hours a day. The cost of this addiction can certainly be our grades. Long days on our phones takes away from time that could be used to complete make-up work for a class that you may have missed because you were absent, or completing nightly homework assigned by your teachers. All of the habits that are essential to achieving and maintaining good grades as well as a solid GPA all seem to be hindered by technology in general.

I know that I suffer through this from time to time. Twitter is a bottomless abyss of content that I can scroll through for hours without second thought. Texting my friends takes a toll on me academically, and opening and replying to Snaps back and forth also eats up my time. It’s unfortunate, but as a teenager it is the ugly truth. However, there are ways to help control the impact that technology has on teens’ lives, so that their grades don’t ultimately suffer.

First and foremost, you have to have a goal in mind. You cannot, I repeat, cannot get anywhere academically if you do not have a goal set in your head. It does not even have to be as lofty as getting a 4.0 GPA. It could be something as simple as “don’t get any E’s and D’s and C’s on my report card.” It all depends on your situation. Everyone’s is different. Once you have a goal in mind that is realistic and manageable, you need determination.

When two-three weeks are left until the second quarter ends, and you’re panicking because you think you won’t be able to get anything done, is a tough place to be. However, don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember that anything can be achieved as long as you have determination. This means not only having a goal in mind but also working towards that goal with the mind-set of “I will do this before I can continue with that, but first I have to do this.” You have to be able to make yourself believe that you will be able to achieve your goal, and you will as long as you are dedicated enough to the task.
Tackle one class at a time. Your teachers are there to help you succeed, not make you stumble along the way. Talk to your teachers and see them after class or during lunch or even after school. When you see them, tell them something along the lines of, “Hey, I had a reality check and I’d really like to see what I can do to ensure that my grade looks decent on my transcript. Can you help me?” Teachers operate differently from one another so, depending on who you are as a student, it could be a piece of cake when it comes to getting that 64% up to an 80% or better, or it could be a long haul just to raise it to a 70%, but both are for the better. It all depends on you and your work ethic, so take care of what you can control: yourself.

As teenagers, we tend to be social butterflies. We love to talk to our peers and connect with them in ways that we can’t with most adults but, when it comes to crunch time, you have to make a little bit of a sacrifice in order to ensure that your grade is saved. This means coming in for lunch to make up work instead of going out with friends. The same holds true for doing homework and completing work on your own time. You’ll need to put school first for a while, so you’re just going to have to accept that fact if you want to save your grade.

Last but certainly not least, do not give up. Always strive for the highest yet most realistic bar you can reach. I know that sounds cliché but, trust me, those four words do in fact mean a ton, especially when it comes to academics. We all think that one or two bad grades mean the end of the world when, in fact, it’s nothing that cannot be fixed as long as you have determination, motivation, ambition, and maybe even a little perspiration. Don’t beat yourself up; you’re still young, you have plenty of stamina and energy to ensure that you can be successful in school, and you have faith in yourself. With these in mind, you just have to believe you can be successful with every ounce of your heart and, eventually, you will be.