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How to Make School Easier: 9 Tips for Struggling Students

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By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

School can be hard for one million different reasons beyond the obvious, which is that class content can be challenging. (AP Physics, anyone?)

In a recent YouTube video, I shared 10 ways to make hard classes easier, but in this blog post, I’m sharing 9 tips for how to make school easier in general.

How to Make School Easier: 9 Tips for Struggling High School and College Students

You don’t have to follow all 9 tips at once, but the sooner you can implement each one, the better. Trust me: This isn’t something you want to put off until later. School doesn’t have to be so hard.

1. Go to Class.

I can’t write a blog post about how to make school easier without mentioning the obvious: School is so much harder if you don’t go to class. Skipping class makes you feel better in the moment (yay! I avoided the hard thing!), but doing so creates much more work and anxiety in the end. 

If you miss class for whatever reason, these are the exact steps you need to follow so you don’t fall behind.

2. Ask for Help Before You Get Confused.

If school is hard because the class content is challenging, then in addition to following these 10 tips here, you’ve got to make sure that you don’t wait too long to get help.

It’s easy to tell ourselves the story that we’ll just figure it out when we get home, or somehow it will all make sense by the time we take the test, even though we’re totally confused now. But this is delusional.

The moment you become confused in any class, for whatever reason, recognize what’s happening and ask for help.

You can ask the teacher, ask your peers, raise your hand, stay after class, get a tutor, Google it, watch a YouTube video, etc. It’s one thing to know this, and it’s another thing to do it. So do it.

(Here are my best tips for asking for help.)

The most important thing is to seek clarification before it’s too late because as you know, class content often builds upon prior content. A little confusion now turns into a lot of confusion later.

3. Look at the Big Picture.

Sometimes the way to make school easier is to examine everything going on outside of school. In other words, if other things happening in our lives are challenging and stressful, then school can seem harder than it is.

Are you doing too many activities? Are your relationships struggling? Are you dealing with any mental health issues that you need professional help with? Are you sleeping and eating okay?

If your basic needs aren’t being met or you’re experiencing stress in other areas of your life, school will feel more difficult than it needs to be.

4. Stop Procrastinating.

Time for some tough love: If you’re a procrastinator, it’s time to knock it off. I get it; I really do. It’s not like I have never procrastinated and it’s not like I live on a different planet. I know how good procrastination can feel in the moment, but it’s one thing to know that and another thing to use that information wisely.

Yes, procrastinating feels good. But you know as well as I do that everything becomes worse when we procrastinate.

It’s a sign of emotional maturity to know when you’re procrastinating and to put strategies in place so you don’t do it. You’re not going to be perfect and sometimes you’ll procrastinate anyway, despite your best intentions. But the whole point is that you’ve got to try. And you’ve got to stop using the delusional story that “everything will be fine.” If you’re reading a blog post about how to make school easier, I’m almost certain that procrastination is at least part of your problem.

Here are my best anti-procrastination resources:

5. Use Your Class Time Well.

Let me tell you something that happens in my office all the time. Students come in to work with me and they have a huge list of overdue assignments. When we dig into why things are overdue, the truth comes out that much of the work was work they were given time during class to complete – but, for one reason or another, they chose not to do the work during class. 

Usually, the reason is that there was a substitute, the teacher didn’t check what they were doing, or they felt they could simply “get away with it.” Whatever the reason, that classwork ended up as homework on top of an already long list of other homework assignments.

Here’s how to make school easier: Do your classwork during class even if you can get away with not doing it.

Again, this comes down to emotional regulation and the ability to do things we don’t want to do.

6. Stay Organized.

School becomes harder when you’re not organized. I have many organizational tutorials on my blog and YouTube, and I will link the most popular ones below.

7. Take the Right Classes.

School can feel easier if you take the right classes. This includes taking the right classes at the right time as well.

Let’s break this down. If your classes are too challenging or you have too many challenging classes at the same time, school will seem hard. But the inverse is also true: If your classes are too easy, you’ll get bored and check out, which can also make school seem harder than it needs to be. 

(Yes, things that are too easy and too boring can quickly become challenging, even if the content is easy.)

I suggest working with your school counselor to make sure that you’re taking relevant classes. Whether you’re in high school or college, your courses should align with what you want to do in your life. No, that doesn’t mean you have to have your life plans all figured out, but you should certainly be taking classes to experiment with different career ideas you have.

The more interesting we find a course, even if the contents is hard, the easier that course will feel because we have a reason to care.

8. Make a Routine for Getting Work Done.

Another strategy to make school easier is to take the guest work out of when you’re going to do your homework.

In my self-paced online course SchoolHabits University, I teach how to create an optimal homework routine or at least some kind of afterschool schedule that’s relatively predictable.

When we know what we’re going to do and when we’re going to do it, we feel less stressed and more in control. And this, my friends, is a key to making school feel easier. It’s also the key to avoiding procrastination.

Here are some tips to get you started creating a homework routine.

9. Have the Right Mindset. 

Before you roll your eyes at this tip, hear me out. Ages ago, I used to also roll my eyes at anything that had to do with mindset. I thought it was some kind of wishful thinking, woo-woo nonsense… Until I woke up and realized that mindset is everything.

If you believe that school will always be hard for you, then yes, school will always be hard for you. This is called a fixed mindset, and it will get you nowhere.

On the other hand, if you truly believe that there are things within your power that you can do to make school easier, then you can indeed make school easier. This is called a growth mindset and it is as close to magic as we can get.

An example of a growth mindset is if you finish reading this blog post about how to make school easier and choose three items on the list and make a plan to implement them. An example of a fixed mindset is to read through this blog post, roll your eyes at the tips, and do nothing to change your situation because you don’t believe any improvement is possible.

These are the top three mindsets that the most successful students have. If you have at least one of these, you’re winning. 

The post How to Make School Easier: 9 Tips for Struggling Students appeared first on SchoolHabits.

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