SummerThe high school workload is monumental in size and scope and it demands a fundamental shift in every student's approach to time and priority management. Admittedly, as an experiential learner, I fell victim to this process on several occasions throughout my own high school career. The hard truth for me, and surely for the majority of high school students, is that there are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and 365 days in a year. Since we cannot manufacture more time in any given day, we seemingly must do one of two things to maintain academic success and still find the time to sleep at night. We must work smarter, or progressively relinquish more and more of our free time to the higher calling of academic excellence. Unfortunately for me, I had to forfeit more of my freedom than I would have liked due to the fact that my developing ability to work smarter was easily outpaced by my growing workload. Now that I can look back and critically examine my successes and shortcomings as a student, it is clear that the seemingly mutually exclusive aforementioned choices of working smarter or sacrificing freedom are actually most effective when employed in tandem.   

Considering that the college application process has never been more rigorous, demanding, and competitive than it is today, as caring parents, passionate educators, and dedicated students, it is our responsibility to encourage the most effective study habits in order to reduce student stress and ensure academic success. In order to work smarter in this academic climate, we must meaningfully tap into the "holy grail" of teenage life, summer vacation. 

As most of you know, and the rest of you can imagine, this reality is a tough sell for most teenagers, especially those that fail to appreciate the connection between hard work now and success later on in life. These things, however, are inextricably linked and the attention that is imparted to planning and hard work now, will easily pay out its worth several times over in the coming academic and professional years beyond.

For any student out there reading this, remember a couple of things. Your test prep will have to be completed at some point in time, and for most of you, this workload is heavier than you anticipate.  Don't wait until your stress level is at a lifetime high to pile on your test prep work. Do yourself the favor of at qualityleast getting comfortable with the scope of your test prep process over the summer so that you are not blindsided by the process’ requirements.  Moreover, if you can position yourself to be in "test ready" condition by the beginning of your junior year, you are at several competitive advantages in relation to your peers. The biggest advantage is that this keeps you from getting in the way of yourself. If you were asked to name the 5 most important things that colleges weigh in their admission decisions, two of those five would surely be GPA and standardized test scores. Both clearly demand time and attention and both of these things can interfere with each other if proper planning is not employed. By working on test preparation over the summer, you will ensure that your test prep will not adversely affect your GPA by either finishing your testing process before the school workload really begins to accumulate or simply by familiarizing yourself with the effort necessary to score to your ability on the SAT and ACT rather than dumping this unknown time commitment on yourself in the middle of your Junior year.

As an educator, I have seen unquestionably greater success and results in student test performance in those students that begin their test prep over the summer months. This result is certainly a favorable one and it is indicative of students that will continue to succeed throughout high school and college. Do the smart thing and get the prep process started on time in the summer before junior year.