Eighth Grade Advice

Are you ready for eighth grade? As someone going into ninth grade, stressed about the pressure of high school, I know going into a new grade can be a scary experience.

Every year, right before school starts up again, I think about all that I’m going to do to have a good year: I’m going to get all A’s. I’m going to have great relationships with my teachers. I’m going to accomplish a lot. Oftentimes, I focus more on my hopes and less on the actions I can take to make those “dreams” a reality.

Though eighth grade may not seem like an important year in terms of college admission, it is the perfect time to set good habits and make an already difficult high school experience a little bit easier. So go grab a snack – I’ll wait – and enjoy an eighth grade cheat sheet.

Procrastination.

If you do not procrastinate your work in seventh grade, I am sending you a virtual high five because you are committed on another level. As a seventh grader, I spent many class periods before quizzes studying and many nights before projects were due opening the google doc for the first time.

My procrastination didn’t hurt me in seventh grade, but when eighth grade came around, it became my greatest enemy. I couldn’t for the life of me start my homework during a free or finish a lab due in two weeks the day it was assigned. It took a lot of trial and error, but I found a tactic that worked for me.

I started making daily schedules for myself detailing what times I would start which assignments. I personally love using a planner, my favorite being Class Tracker. If you prefer to use an online planner, though, Google Calendars is great as well as Notion. In addition to this, I set timers on my phone for each assignment so I would get things done without mixing in distractions. My methods are intense, but this crazy system helped me improve my time management skills and was definitely worth it.

Positive Relationships with Teachers

Building positive relationships with your teachers is essential to having a good year in a class. Specifically for students who may be quieter in class, meeting with your teachers consistently is the best way to keep them up to date on what areas you have a harder time with, and what they can help you improve on.

Also, the teachers at Harvard-Westlake (HW) are amazing to talk to about anything. Teachers are such an important resource even after the class ends, and I highly recommend you at least email your teachers once and awhile to catch them up on a topic you may be struggling with or ask to go over a worksheet you are having a hard time completing.

Grades

Before my seventh and eighth grade year, everyone I talked to in the upper grades said not to worry about grades these two years and just build good habits. Sometimes it’s hard to step away from the mindset of perfect grades and a 4.0 GPA, but it matters a lot more in these early years before assignments actually count towards your future to figure out how to work in the best way possible. Learning to space out work and not enter a cycle of burnout will positively impact your future years at HW and beyond, so I urge you to take the time in your last year before high school to check your work and study habits and make sure you are in a healthy place mentally before high school.

Balancing School and Social Life

The workload in eighth grade is a step up from seventh, and sometimes it is hard to decide what to put first between your social and school life. Do I spend the afternoon working on a lab that’s due tomorrow or do I go to the mall with all of my friends and cram in the lab before I go to sleep?

The balance was hard to achieve for me personally, because hanging out with my friends is very important to me, but being a good student that is on top of my work is also something I value greatly. For everyone, the choice is different, and it also depends on the situation.

The greatest tips I can recommend for finding a balance is scheduling your time between work and socializing and getting work done ahead of time. Teachers release the schedules for each unit right before they begin. I recommend writing those dates in a planner so that you don’t plan times to hang out on nights before those exams. Writing down when each class is having quizzes and tests will give you a good idea of what weeks you’ll have more or less free time to see people.

My next tip will help you for the rest of your life. It seems so simple, but mastering it will make your life so much easier: Get your work done ahead of time even if it isn’t due the next day. There are some nights where I come home and only have thirty minutes of work that is due the next day. I’d get the work done and then proceed to watch netflix for the next two hours before dinner.

While this strategy is fun, if you have evenings where you are not doing anything, look ahead in the schedule to see if you can be doing work. If you have a science lab due in two weeks, get it done early. It may seem pointless because it isn’t due for a long time, but working on long term projects or day to day work on nights where you aren’t doing anything is the best way to ensure you don’t have long term projects that you haven’t done on days that you want to see people.

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