Back To School: Strategies for Academic Success


One minute you’re enjoying the hot summer sun, going night swimming with your friends and cramming in those last pages of Bel Canto.  And before you know it, you’re back in the sweaty science hallway trying with all your might to figure out what ideal gases are.  Welcome back to school.

The transition from summer mode to late-night studying is seemingly impossible, no matter how involved or studious you are.  Frankly, everyone smiles a little bigger in the summer months.  However, for the next ten months at least, it’s time to buckle down and get to business.

Depending on what kind of student you are, your parents or guidance counselors may have pushed you to drown yourself in AP or honors classes this year.  If you have a heavy course load and are having trouble getting enough sleep, doing you work and maintaining a healthy social life, it’s important to remember that balance is key to success.

Let’s be honest: it may feel impossible to juggle your workload and your social life and still get seven hours of sleep.  What’s most important to remember is that the only person who knows when you’ve had enough is you.  If it’s 12:30 a.m. and you can barely keep your eyes open, turn the computer off and deal with it tomorrow.  If you are sleep deprived, stressed and unable to perform your best, chances are you’re overworked.

Remember that you’re only human and can only endure so much stress and pressure.  It’s only October, and if you are already feeling overworked and burnt out, take some time to adjust.  Many of us are still in summer mode, and there’s no shame in that.  The good news is that the drop date for classes is Dec. 15, so you have plenty of time to adjust to the new year.

As the school year progresses, it may be difficult to remain organized, motivated, and focused, especially once the excitement of the new year wears off.  Many students find themselves struggling to maintain the same level of motivation.  But have no fear, this rut can be easily conquered.  The hardest part of completing your work is starting it; once you’re in the zone, it becomes far easier to complete your work.  Allot a small amount of time to begin your work, say 20 minutes.  Set a timer and aim to be as productive as possible in those 20 minutes. If the task is not yet finished by the time your alarm rings, you will be more likely to be motivated to finish.  It also helps to set rewards for yourself, providing some extra incentive for being productive. Working in small 20-30 minute chunks with 5-minute breaks in between is one of the best ways to maximize your productivity.
Managing all your schoolwork, clubs, and sports can be overwhelming, but organization can help you keep of all your work and reduce stress.  Even though it can be tedious, updating your planner everyday will ultimately be worth it. It is a great way of keeping track of all your assignments and seeing how much you have to do each day.  An alternative to planners is bullet journals, a more do-it-yourself way to prioritize your tasks for the day. You can find plenty of inspiration online.  

“I find it helpful to write down all my assignments and number them in terms of which ones are most important to complete first for that day,” said sophomore Julia Muratore.  “I also write down my after school activities and commitments so I can figure out how much time I have to dedicate to schoolwork for that day.”

An essential skill to have throughout high school and the rest of your life is note taking.  Numerous studies have shown that it is beneficial to handwrite your notes instead of typing them since you can better retain the information. It is also useful to color code or highlight your notes to make important points stand out. Visual learners may find it especially helpful to embellish their notes with fancy titles or by sketchnoting, or adding relevant doodles and banners to your notes.

One of the greatest resources available to students is the subject offices, where anyone can go and talk to their teachers.  If you have any questions regarding homework or tests, having access to your teachers can prove invaluable for clarification or further information.  Simply getting to know your teachers better and learning a little bit about them can lead to a better learning experience all year long.  Engaging with your teacher and showing interest in a class ensures that you will get a great deal more out of your learning experience.

Teachers aren’t the only ones you should get to know.  For those who are new to Schreiber, you now have a new guidance counselor who will be essential in the success of your high school career.  From helping you plan your schedules to aiding in the college admissions process, these counselors can make your time here much easier.  If you have a chance, it might be a good idea to pay them a visit and introduce yourself, allowing for a more mutually beneficial relationship for the next four years.

Beyond this, guidance counselors can help any student with issues regarding your high school experience and are there to answer any questions or clarify any uncertainties, as well as write college recommendations for seniors.

Students should remember that teachers, guidance counselors, and other faculty are here to help them.  That is their job, and by knowing them that makes their job all that much easier.

We’ve all heard it before: colleges like to see applicants who are involved in a plethora of clubs and extracurricular activities.  Our teachers, guidance counselors, and parents have instilled in our minds that we must be active members of our school and community.  But beyond that, clubs are also a way to explore your passions and meet new people who share your interests.  Schreiber offers a wide selection of clubs that appeal to all interests, from theater to community service to academics.

On Sept. 29, a club fair was held in the lobby during periods 4.1 and 4.2 to showcase almost all the clubs Schreiber has to offer and recruit new members.

“I have gone to the club fair for the past two years, and every year, I find interesting and fun clubs to join,” said sophomore Katie Winter.  “This year, I signed up for coding club because I really want to get exposed to more coding languages and have fun doing it with other students.  I also signed up for American heroes club, which raises funds for veterans who have served for our country.  This is a club that I usually wouldn’t sign up for, but I’m interested to see what it is about.  In addition, I signed up for GSA to show my support for all of my friends who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.”

With over 50 club members, Key Club and Schreiber Theatre Company  are some of the most popular clubs at Schreiber.

The Key Club conducts volunteer service intended to shape the community and school into a better, more charitable place.  Events throughout Port Washington put in requests for volunteers to the Key Club, and club members can sign up for the events they’re interested in.  Joining the Key Club is a great way to accumulate community service hours while also making a difference.

“Key club is a community service club that gets involved in local volunteering events such as Portfest, events at the landmark, the spooky walk, and family fun carnivals,” said senior Sarah Finkelstein.  “People should join because working hard to better the community is very rewarding and all the events are really fun.”

Throughout the year, Schreiber Theatre Company puts on two large performances, in addition to a number of smaller ones. In the fall, Schreiber Theatre Company works to put on a play, while they perform a musical in the spring.  Schreiber Theatre Company gives students the opportunity to not only act and sing on stage, but also direct, write, and produce their own plays.

“I first joined drama because of my love for both performing and theatre in general, but I have also gotten to know some amazing people over the years,” said freshman Ian Miller.

Schreiber offers over 40 student clubs.  Though you may be familiar with some of the more popular clubs, there are many alternative organizations to join as well.

The Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) welcomes students of all backgrounds and identities to promote inclusivity at Schreiber.  Members have open discussions about the LGBTQ+ community, spread awareness about social issues, and organize events throughout the school year, such as the Day of Silence and Coming Out Day.  The GSA is also an agent of change.  Recently, they have worked to make Schreiber a more accepting environment by requesting the addition of a gender inclusive bathroom, as well as suggesting that all graduating seniors have the same color cap and gown, regardless of gender.

“People should consider joining the club because it’s super fun and we get to talk about LGBTQ+ issues and discuss our goals for the upcoming year, like having a color run and more representation for our club,” said GSA secretary sophomore Jordan Krainin

If you’re a fan of games involving strategy, quick decision making, and recognizing patterns, then chess club may be the activity for you.  Advised by Mr. Adam Wolfert, the chess club is a space for students to practice, develop skills, and compete.

“It’s designed to help students think critically and it improves your memory,” said chess club captain junior Zach Gruber.  “It’s good to learn these skills under pressure because there’s a clock.  Therefore, you learn to think more quickly, and this could help students on tests.  More importantly, it’s a very fun club.  Chess is a lifelong skill that you can play anywhere with anyone who knows how to play.”

Are you looking for a creative outlet that you can share with the public?  Kaleidoscope literary magazine allows students to express themselves through art, poetry, photography, and creative writing.  At the end of the year, all of the student work is available in a publication, available to all students for only $5.

“I have had a great experience reading works from Schreiber’s many talented writers, coming up with creative layout ideas, and meeting wonderful people,” said senior Sarah Gottesman.

This just scratches the surface; there are countless organizations that can enrich your high school experience, ranging from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to the Human Relations club.  However, if you cannot find a club that suits your interests, you can always talk to your assistant principal about founding a new club.

There will always be a part of you that misses the loose reins of summer and all the season grants you.  Yet for now, take advantage of the school and all it offers its students, and treat your mind and body right while you’re at it.  As long and you’re tackling your academic and extracurricular responsibilities for the next sub-nine months, it is important to remember to make the most of the school year.  Though the first quarter is often a rocky one, and some feel as though they never fully adjust to the intensity of the school year, it’s go time.

“Relax, you’ll do just fine,” said senior James Duquette. Good luck.