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It’s that time of year again! Preparing for the new school year is exciting for some and stressful for others. Wherever you stand, we have some tips that will reduce your stress and improve your chances of success.

1. Know your schedule and courses.

Get organized before school starts. Learn your schedule and where your classes are so you can avoid the first-day confusion of finding your way from class to class. Know what you will need for each class. A calculator for math? Pencil crayons for art? A notebook for English? Get the things you need beforehand and show up prepared so that you can focus on learning from the start.

2. Set goals, prioritize, and reward yourself.

Having a goal to work towards can increase motivation. Think about what success means to you, and write your goals down. Your goals should be specific and attainable. Do you want to achieve a 75% average? Get an A+ in English? Make the podium in track & field? Earn your diploma? Get accepted to a prestigious program? Everyone’s goals will look different—and they should! We all have different abilities and aspirations, and each of us learns to identify the stepping stones that lead to success.
To get to your version of success, it is important to prioritize. Knowing what is most important will help you with decision-making. For example, is homework or band practice more important today? The answer will vary. Too much of one or the other isn’t healthy. Use your goals as a guide, and ask yourself, “Which decision will help me to reach my goals?”
When you achieve a goal, celebrate the achievement! Having something to look forward to at the end of your hard work is motivating.

3. Get involved.

Being part of a community is an important part of learning, one that can open up many opportunities. Choose your community—at school, in the local theatre, on the soccer field, or somewhere else that interests you. Having a group of people who share your interests creates a supportive, encouraging environment. The various events and gatherings that occur within communities create opportunities for meeting new people, learning new skills, and volunteering.

4. Know your learning style.

An important part of being successful is knowing how you learn best. Take this quiz to see how you might benefit from your unique approach to learning: Learning Style Quiz.

5. Know your post-secondary prerequisite requirements.

Are you planning to attend college or university? Do you have an idea of what program you want to apply to? Post-secondary programs have specific prerequisite requirements that applicants must meet. For example, you may need to achieve over 75% in ENG4U, over 80% in SCH4U, or have earned a Grade 12 mathematics credit in order to be considered for acceptance. If you know the requirements ahead of time, you will be able to work towards achieving the prerequisites you will need.

6. Embrace failure as a learning opportunity.

Understand that mistakes happen and you may fail to achieve one of your goals. Failure provides an opportunity for growth. Be honest with yourself, and reflect on what lead to you not being successful in obtaining your goal. Using your problem-solving skills, consider your options. Apply what you have learned from the experience, and move on. While not reaching your goal may seem like a failure at the time, new opportunities to learn, grow, and perhaps move in another direction altogether will come out of it.

Best wishes to all who are heading back to school. Whether you’re entering your first day of high school, first day of Grade 12, or first day of college/university—those first days only happen once. Make the most of them!

Do you have any tips for other students on how to prepare for the new school year? Let us know in the comments.