Hi teenagers. A lot of you struggle in school, but would really love to do better. You dream of seeing a 3.0 or even a 4.0 on your report card. The problem is, you don’t really know how to get there. Here are some strategies I’ve seen clients use over the years that have helped tremendously.
1. Be honest. Many of you like to blame your teachers, other students, or say you put a lot of time into a class, but you just didn’t get the grade you deserved. If you are completely realistic, some of those things might be true. However, there is a part of your lower grade that is your responsibility. Admit to yourself that blaming someone else isn’t helpful.
2. Put in the time. It takes serious work to get A’s in classes. Students who earn A’s complete every homework assignment, miss very little school, and work at the class even when they don’t earn points for it (they study). I’ve seen clients put in 5 or 6 hours throughout the course of a week preparing for a test. Becoming good at something means doing everything you’re asked; becoming excellent means doing everything you’re asked and a little bit more.
3. Ask for help. A-students ask their parents and teachers to help them with things that are overwhelming. When they don’t understand a subject, they go see their teachers at lunch, tutorial, or after school. If they still can’t figure something out, they talk with mom and dad about it. Oftentimes they will end up with a tutor for awhile. It doesn’t work very well if you just assume you’ll figure it out on your own. You might, but you will have wasted a lot of precious time.
4. Use time wisely. Students who do well in school focus when they’re doing schoolwork. They set their electronics aside and let their brain become immersed in homework. They do work during tutorial hour instead of socializing. This really helps them learn the subject they’re studying, so they don’t feel behind in class.
5. Know your abilities. The clients I’ve worked with who earn good grades are very aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They don’t try and take an advanced math class if math is a huge struggle. Instead they will take the regular paced class. On the other hand, if they are fantastic at history they might try an AP class. Make sure you’re not overloading your schedule. It becomes frustrating and then you might stop wanting to try. It’s important to still have time for things you like doing.
Improving your grades takes work. There’s no magic wand. However, I believe you can do it if you are diligent and organized. Ask your parents to help you organize if you struggle in that area. Don’t feel ashamed. Believe me, nobody has it all together in every category of life. We all need help with some things, and we’re good at others.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT