Sarah Jannings

LAKE MICHIGAN CATHOLIC-  Are you upset about your fall semester, the grades you received and the GPA that you received?  If you’re looking for a way to improve and start your spring semester off on the right foot, the following ten ways can help you do just that.

Step One: What did you do well last semester?  It’s easy to focus on what went wrong and where you want to see improvements; however, it’s also important to step back and recognize achievements, no matter how small, that were made during the first half of school.  Continuing to do what you did well in the last semester, along with adding some changes and new techniques can result in excellent improvements and progress in your second semester.

Step Two: Reset New Goals

Starting with the positives from last semester, think about what goals you can build upon and the new goals you can add to your list.  Building on those habits will result in improvement as will choosing new areas on which to focus.

Create SMART goals:

  • Specific – be straightforward
  • Measurable – how will you measure progress?
  • Action-oriented – outline the actions you will take
  • Realistic – make sure the goal is attainable with some effort
  • Timely – identifying an end point gives you a target to work towards


Step Three: Homework

Establish a clear plan for finishing homework, checking to make sure it’s correct, and putting it away in the right place so it can be turned in the next day and you will have no trouble finding it.  Late homework does not show your teachers that you are responsible and that you care about your grades which is what they like to see.

Step Four: Quizzes/Tests/Projects

Develop skills to keep track of larger assignments and break them down into manageable pieces.  Making quizlets, flashcards, review games, and study guides are a great way to help you study and memorize a large amount of information more quickly.  Study and work on projects in advance, so you aren’t stressing yourself out the day before they are due.

Step Five: SAT/ACT

For high school juniors, now is the time to begin preparing for the SAT and ACT if you haven’t started already. Classes outside of school or tutors can help you tremendously for studying for these huge tests. These are the tests that colleges will look at on your transcript to see just how smart you really are. Working hard and studying for these can get you a very long way!

Step Six: Grades

Look closely at each of your last semester grades.  If not already, separate each grade by category (homework, quizzes/test, projects, final exam).  This is an organized way to show what areas in each of your classes that you need to improve on.

Step Seven: Academic Skills

In your first semester, foundational skills were built. This semester, your teachers expect you to develop and apply those skills.  If there are any holes or weak areas, they should be addressed now considering you are already half way through the school year.

Step Eight: Time Management and Organization

Clean out those binders! Take out materials that won’t be needed for the new semester (if in doubt, store them in a folder at home), fix broken divider tabs, and replace lost planners.  Organizational skills are very important and they are skills that you should keep with you for the rest of your life.  Time Management is also very important because being in school can become very stressful.  Keeping track of what you will be doing and when it is due for each class with help you become more relaxed and organized along the way.

Step Nine: Extracurricular Activities

It might be time to change sports or start a new extracurricular activity, but keep practice and game schedules in mind. Don’t schedule too many activities at once. Think about whether games, plays, or recitals will come at the same time as the next round of final exams.  Sports and clubs are great activities to become involved in and they look great on college applications.  They are a great way to spend time with your friends, learn teamwork skills, and become involved in your community.

Step Ten: Be open to new friends and experiences

School is very important and it’s even more important to become involved and receive good grades.  However, school is also meant to be enjoyable, even if it doesn’t feel like it.  Going to games for your school sports and attending dances and pep rallies are an excellent way to have a fun school year.

These ten steps can help you to have a successful and less stressful new semester.  All students have different plans and goals that they are setting for themselves and it is important to push yourself, but naturally at a realistic level.

¨I plan on studying harder and turning in my homework this semester.  I didn’t do these things last semester and I want to get better at them.  With my classes and subjects I need to improve on english and theology.  I am going to try to work on those a lot more. I will probably set the traditional goals of getting better grades and studying harder; sleeping more as well,¨ said freshman Kacey Ristow.

Ristow already has a great plan to start her semester off on the right foot.  Start thinking about what your plan and goals are and put them into action so you can make your new semester a success!