Attending a private school doesn't have to be stressful. While the curriculum can be challenging and the expectations may be high, handling the academic challenges certainly is possible.
- Meet with the Counselor-You should get to know your counselor before school even begins. In most cases, counselors work at least a portion of the summer vacation months, so that they can meet with students, arrange schedules, and ward off potential problems with transcripts, grades and other matters. You and your counselor need to meet to discuss your academic record, your schedule, and your goals for the future. You'll need to continue to meet with your counselor periodically throughout the rest of your academic career to check your status and remain on track. Counselors aren't just available to discuss grades, however; they can be an impartial yet wise third party that you can talk to about anything else that might be going on in your life.
- Create a Plan-Everyone needs goals, no matter how old they are. This is especially true during the academic years. In order to handle the academic challenges that a private school may offer, you'll need to create a plan. If you are entering the private school as a freshman, then your plan will cover the next four years. If you are already a junior, you still need to evaluate your situation to see if any changes are necessary in the curriculum you are taking. Your plan should include the required classes you must pass in order to graduate, but it should also include extracurricular classes that may help you in the future. Your school should have a detailed course catalog for you to look at, and you should also meet with your school's counselor to make sure your plan is on track and acceptable.
- Speak Up-In many cases, students don't speak up during class, choosing to sit quietly even if they don't understand what is going on. They worry that asking questions might make them appear stupid, so they remain silent on the matter. Unfortunately, many classes depend on a building of knowledge. If you don't understand the first section, you'll have even more difficulty understanding the subsequent sections of the course. There is never anything wrong or "stupid" about asking questions. One of the advantages of private school is the greater ability for students to talk with their teachers. If you simply can't speak up in class, you must take some time to meet with your instructor before or after class to explain your question. Your teacher can't help you if he doesn't know you need help!
- Review Each Day-While you've probably heard about cram sessions for exams and other big tests, they aren't the answer to finding success in the classroom. To prepare for the challenges that academia continually tosses your way, your best bet is to take some time to review the material each day. If you take fifteen or twenty minutes to study for each class, you can eliminate those late-night, stress-filled cram sessions and find lasting success.
- Find a Tutor-The more you fall behind in a class, the harder it is to catch up. The answer may be for you to find a tutor. While many students don't want to pay the hourly rate that a tutor may charge, spending the extra money can certainly be worth it. Do you have a subject in which you excel, but you struggle in another course? Consider swapping services with someone who might need your help as well. Not sure where to find a tutor? Contact the guidance office. In some cases, volunteer organizations offer free tutoring services, too.
- Take Care of Yourself-Finally, be sure you take care of yourself. This includes getting plenty of rest and eating right.