Tips to Stay on Track to Graduate from High School

Last updated: Dec 23, 2020

Whether you’re a freshman adjusting to the increased demands of high school or a fourth-year student struggling with a major case of senioritis, high school is full of challenges. Find out how to get through it successfully (and thrive) with our six tips to stay on track to graduate from high school.

female student in a yellow shirt studies in the library

6. Focus on High-Impact Activities 

Everyone has a limited amount of willpower, so it’s important to plan your daily task list carefully and prioritize high-impact activities. Instead of banging out simple assignments first (like five algebra problems), start studying for your Spanish midterm, which likely accounts for a greater percentage of your grade. Likewise, you’ll want to spend time on your most difficult subjects first, when your willpower and concentration are at their peak effectiveness.

5. Set Attainable Goals

Having trouble diving into that 5,000-word paper on the history of religious conflict in the Middle East? Beginning a big project is a bit easier when you break it down into manageable chunks. Start by creating an outline and treating each section as a goal. Reward yourself for meeting each goal, then move on to the next one. It’s as simple as wash, rinse, repeat!

4. Know Your Resources – And Use Them

If you’re struggling to understand the concepts in your AP Calculus class, waiting until you flunk the midterm to seek help is not a wise strategy. Instead, think about:

  • Asking your teacher for assistance outside of class hours. Teachers want to see you succeed, and most are willing to put in the time to make sure you do.
  • Taking advantage of a tutoring group at your school so you can get help from your peers.
  • Forming a study group with friends and classmates so you can review the material together.

If you’re floundering with too many difficult courses, it’s worth reaching out to your guidance counselor. They can help you plan a schedule that’s challenging and keeps you on pace to graduate, yet in-line with your academic abilities.

A group of three students gather around a laptop and celebrate good news

3. Avoid Overcommitting

Overloading yourself with AP courses and extracurricular activities may seem like the smart move to increase your competitiveness, but it can hurt you in the long run. Take a moment to ask yourself these questions:  

  • Are you getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night?
  • Do you have time to take breaks during the school day?
  • Are you finishing all your work?
  • Are you too busy to make a meaningful contribution to your extracurricular activities?

If the answer to these questions is a resounding no, you probably have too much on your plate.

Cut down on your activities, take an easier course load, spend at least a few minutes destressing every day, and ask for help if you’re having trouble managing your schedule.

2. Create a Support Network

We can all use a personal cheerleader (or two). Create a group of people invested in your success who can provide guidance and help you remain accountable. Meet with your college counselor to plan your course schedule and be sure you meet college entry requirements. A counselor is also a fantastic resource for helping you explore colleges and apply for admission.

Teachers and family friends make great mentors who can offer guidance and help you develop new skills. Friends and peers are ideal sources of motivation and idea sharing.

1. Celebrate Your Accomplishments

Did you just finish slogging through that 5,000-word paper? Phew – congratulations! Rewarding yourself for a job well done is a great way to keep up your motivation. Whenever you finish an assignment, take a walk, text a friend, play a video game, get a snack – whatever works for you. Then, jump back in and tackle the next project.

A group of students sit at a table with their books for a study session.When you’re tempted to slack off, remember that every assignment you complete and every “A” you earn gets you one step closer to college. If you have questions about what it takes to be admitted to USF, reach out to the Office of Admissions online or by phone at 813-974-3350.