April 9, 2018
Dear LoMA Family,
I used to go to horse racing when I was younger. There are some dull times between races, but what always made it worthwhile was watching the horses race down the home stretch. The home stretch is the last straightway on the track where the horses stretch out every stride as far as they can to make it across the finish line. It is the part of the race where the horses push the hardest and give it everything they have. Horses that started off in the back of the pack come alive and show how great they can be before they cross the finish line.
With three weeks left in this marking period and one marking period after that, we are now in the home stretch of the school year – 43 days until Regents Week. Students who have been trotting along with a 70 average can push themselves up to an 80 or even an 85, as they see the finish line ahead and push themselves through this last seven-week stretch. But the key to a good home stretch is that you have to run it differently then you have run the rest of the race – you have to give it your all. It is not enough to simply say that you’re going to try harder or study more. You need to make a specific plan of how you will change and improve or it’s not going to happen. For instance, some of the things you might need to start focusing on could be:
- Completing every homework assignment every night. To do this, you might need to change up your routine. For instance, you can put off watching TV, talking on the phone or accessing social media until you have finished two hours of homework, and then use it as a reward or attend Credit Plus and tutoring for the next 43 days
- Taking more complete notes in class. You also need to review those notes every night so that you can remember facts and details better.
- Many students can raise their grades a few points simply by being more thoughtfully involved in classroom discussions. The more students speak up in class and ask questions the more they understand and even enjoy the class.
- Tutoring becomes more important now than ever, especially in Regents’ classes.
- Study groups are a good way to complete homework and prepare for tests with friends. Students can meet in the library or many teachers’ rooms to study before you go home in the afternoon. Then they won’t have to worry about homework later.
These are just some of the things I have thought about. Which of these can help you? What else can your advisory think of that will help you get the most out of the final stretch?
In every race there are always one or two horses that make the push into the home stretch too late. They start coming from behind strong and look like they are going to take the lead, but give too little too late to win the race. Don’t be that horse.
Give it everything you have,
Here are some thoughts from some freshmen and sophomore students about what keeps them from finishing strong in the home stretch and the ways that they combat them.
-I get so stressed out. I don’t know, I usually worry if I’m going to finish in time, and I can’t plan it out, so when I think I’m done, I get more work and then I’m way behind.
-Procrastination is a big problem for me. If someone were to text me, or friends want to hang out, I get distracted immediately.
-I’m so tired when I get home. I usually take a nap, which is sometimes 3 hours. Then I wake up and it’s almost 7 and dinner time, then I don’t finish until crazy late.
-I always feel like I can do more on an assignment, so sometimes I just give up rather than give in bad work. I find that I can’t push myself or figure out how to make something better when I know it can be improved.
-I find inspiration in the things that I do well on instead of focusing on what I didn’t do as well on. I never work on my bed or in my room because I’ll get sleepy or distracted so I make sure I work in the kitchen where I can find focus.
-I turn it into a competition. Let’s say your fellow classmates are doing better than you, but you know you can do better than them, so you do a lot of extra work so you can “beat” them like you should.
-I create an itinerary. I even schedule my hang out sessions with my friends so that it doesn’t get in the way of my work. It really works for me when I take the time to make it.
-We always hang out before we go home so once we go home, there is less texting and stuff like that, and when I get home I can focus more.
-When I get home after a serious day, I turn off my WiFi and my entire phone because I know I’m looking for a distraction.
-I intentionally let my phone die and then I have to do work when I’m charging because I’m so bored waiting to be able to use it again.
-When I have to do essays and stuff I plan to take breaks. I’ll make a snack breaks or even ten minute space-out breaks so that I can stay sane.
-I can’t take breaks. I set out the entire block of time and just have to work straight through or I never will get it done.
-I force myself to go to tutoring by buying myself a treat to keep myself happy during or after doing my work.
-I set restrictions for myself like not allowing myself to watch my favorite shows until my homework is done. Netflix and Hulu are great because they make your shows available any time so you can always wait to watch.
-I set a goal of doing half of the assignment, then I bring it to school and finish the other half in the morning or during lunch time (my other teachers dispute whether I fully finish them though).
-I look at my grades to make myself feel sad, then I see them and I’m like “Oh s***, I better get on it” and I find that motivates me.
-I trick my mom into checking my grades when I know I’m doing bad by asking her for the password. Then I know she’ll get on my ass and force me to have the motivation that I don’t have.
-I set a goal at the beginning of the semester and each marking period. I know if I don’t do my work, I’ll be most disappointed with me because it was my goal.
-I can’t use goal setting. I find goals make me more discouraged if I’m far off. Instead, I panic when I see how bad I am.
-My goal isn’t for school, I have a career goal of ending up in finance or real estate, so I use that long-term bubble goal, and so I work for the 83 average for a minimum and view this whole thing as a marathon, not a sprint.
-I constantly think about college, and every time I’m going to shut down I think to myself, “Oh yeah, USC. Gotta do this work.”