Tips From Experienced Students

Amelia Bush and Rowan Wallin

Now that school is in session, a lot of us will begin to, once again, delve deep into our studies and shy away from the sociability of summer. During this time of fresh beginnings we are reminded of an Oscar Wilde quote: “With age comes wisdom.” Under the presumption that Wilde is correct, we feel it is our duty to grant the rest of you with some of the wisdom we have accrued throughout our careers (so far) at the Upper School. This list will not include the clichés (“Try new things!”), but, rather, meaningful advice that is actually realistic. 

Get to know your teachers. You will be spending countless hours with them throughout the school year, so getting to know them can only be beneficial. Who knows…maybe your teacher shares common interests with you! You’re both at school anyways and you never know what information could be useful. Office hours are extremely helpful, meeting with your teachers whenever you feel yourself getting confused can drastically impact your success in the class. Go in consistently throughout the year. It’s best to understand your material earlier on so when the test rolls around you aren’t struggling to understand the material. Not to mention, eavesdropping on other’s questions can be more helpful than asking your own. You’ll find topics that you didn’t know you were confused on and then you can get help before the problem becomes a problem. Office hours aren’t just for before big projects, go in after you get your results back. For essays and projects, go through the feedback you’ve already gotten with your teacher in more depth. Also, if you get written comments on a graded item, read the comments. They are there for a reason and will tell you more about your work than a percentage will. 

Utilize the spots in the school to study. The study rooms, if you can get one, are an amazing place to be with friends. The tables are big and there is room for plenty of people to gather comfortably. It’s quiet and you can talk freely and do your work without worrying about disturbing others or outside distractions. The long table behind the fishtank is also a great place. It’s quiet and secluded without being an actual room. There’s not a lot of people there so you can normally find a spot. The library and Carlson Commons are probably the most underrated study spaces in the school. There are a ton of spots ranging from tables to comfy chairs to more secluded areas. One of our personal favorite areas is the table behind the bookshelves. No one will come up to you when you’re studying which can help limit distractions. Studying near a ton of books always makes us feel more motivated and studious. The library in general has really great background noise if that helps you focus. No one is ever too loud, but generally there are a couple conversations going which is great if hearing noise helps you focus. The gallery is also a great spot. It’s very peaceful and the lighting is really good which can help get into the right mindset for work, however the benches are kind of uncomfortable but will surely keep you awake due to their discomfort! 

Finally, be honest with your teachers. If you miss a deadline, tell them why. Do not start spinning fables; this only leads to a bad reputation. Additionally, your lies will surely find you out someday. Most of the teachers are very understanding and if you are swamped with work, you can normally agree on a reasonable extension. We will say however, a lot of the time the work assigned is manageable so don’t ask for too many extensions each semester, especially because some classes have limits on how many you can get. If that is the case, use them wisely. On a similar note, don’t complain an immoderate amount about your work to your teachers. Remember, you signed up for this. You chose to take APUSH. Consequently, you shall complete the assigned readings with little gripes. You are not a victim and your teacher does not want to ruin your life. However, we have been there and understand that it can be very hard to get yourself to do those 20 page readings. One thing that really helps fix that problem is using your study hall/free block effectively, whether that’s talking with a teacher, doing homework, or just doing extra studying. If you need to use this time to take a break, that’s okay, but it is really helpful to get ahead on your work so you can have more fun later in the day.