C[olumbia] ++ 4 Students

Navigating Columbia (or any) High School: An ideal situation – Having A Code

It’s almost as if one needs a special code to succeed in High School.  C++ is a type of computer code/language that’s an asset to know if you’re ‘into’ computers. But who is ‘into’ going to school? And getting through school is a full time job in and of itself. Really.  High School is mandatory.  It’s Monday through Friday, 8am to 3pm. You start attending school at about age 6 and you end high school at about age 17. And you can’t really call in sick – it’s too hard. You need three sets of approval to get away with that: 1). your parents, 2). your doctor’s 3). your dean’s office.  I value education highly, please don’t be mistaken.  Education should be a right and is at the same time a privilege, but the experience of high school, social and academic, is something different.

Select image for Q. & A.

Personally, I recall many occasions before graduation when I wondered what was the point of what I was doing, and if I was doing things right in regards to completing my high school education. I thought school was about working hard to get a good education, and I thought a good education meant doing well academically to get into a really good college. Thing was I was an average student with ‘potential,’ and I was the first in my family to go through the full educational system. It was trial and error for me basically. In hindsight I could not have done anything differently with regard to graduating ‘a more attractive college applicant’ but for three things: 1) working smart. 2) playing by the #1 rule. 3) finding a niche (a suitable place) for myself with regard to academics & extra-circular activities.  Consider 1, 2, & 3 my ‘code’ for succeeding in school. These three points are fundamentally important information that seems obvious, but often times are not to students.

My Code for Succeeding in School (1, 2, & 3)

1. Working Smart (A. Time Management, B.  Understanding your GPA)

work-ing smart

  1. Learning your course material.
  2. Becoming educated on how submitting/not submitting classwork impacts your academic performance.
  3. Using time effectively when reviewing and studying assignments.
  4. Understanding what a ‘GPA’ is.
  5. Knowing the distinction between your marking period GPA and your cumulative GPA.
  6. Developing a strategy to earn a solid GPA.

A. Time Management. Decide how much time to spend on each subject.  Simply do an assessment on your own study habits.  Are your habits excellent, or do they need to be modified? If they do read below.

By time management I don’t necessarily mean something regimental (strict).  Instead

, consider your performance in a class and decide if you should schedule more time (if you need to improve your performance) or if the time you are spending is sufficient.   Even If you are comfortable with a class subject, periodically complete a review of that subject.   This can be frequent – daily, every couple or days, weekly – or not.  Decide what works for you.  Still, try to review as often as you can during the week.  This can only improve your class performance because you are reviewing material you’re comfortable and will remain familiar with.   However, if you don’t feel comfortable with the class material/assignment spend structured time studying this particular class’ material.  By structured time I mean a time schedule like what’s below.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Example: Structured Study Schedule – Math (Adjust time based on what works for you)

  • Days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Time Duration: At 7pm to 8:30pm  [7:00 to 7:30] 20 min break [7:50 to 8:20] +10 minutes left over
  • Add an additional Review (30 minutes) to your study schedule for each scheduled quiz or exam you have coming up.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Select image for Morehouse summer program resource.

Play around with the example study schedule above.  Add more days and/or change to whatever days you prefer or time duration you prefer. Personally, I don’t recommend staring at a book/paper for 3-4 hours non-stop.  Some people do study like this and find this method effective.  Others can not study like this.  If this method works for you please do continue onward – that’s good.  Otherwise, if you are more likely space out after a short period of time try something new.

Personally, I’m one of those people who can not study in 3-4 hour straight through sessions.  Believe me when I tell you that I start spacing out even before I open up the book.  =c) Seriously though, I find it hard to study in 2-3 hour blocks of time, and often get distracted or sleepy during this type of study session.  The likelihood that I will remember much after two hours of continuous study is often slim unless its a group study session.  If you find yourself in this same predicament when studying by yourself consider this one solution.  Spend 30 – 45 minutes on one study session.  Take a break or a nap to get refreshed after that time has elapsed. (Laugh but i kid you not.  Your brain needs to rest too.  Studies show that when you study something new and immediately sleep afterward you have a higher retention rate of that material – University of Chicago Article.) Get back to studying after your break or nap, and repeat if necessary.

Select this link for an equation you can use to determine how much time you could dedicate to studying.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

B. (GPA) stands for Grade Point Average. It’s important to realize that cumulative GPA ( over all GPA) is a significant/important determinant of  acceptance into a college or university, as well as qualification for scholarships.  Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. I’m willing to stake a lot on this claim.

You can deliberately plan out your performance.  Your marking period grades don’t have to be up in the air.  Take the time to plan out what grades you need in each class each quarter to meet your academic goals.  It’ll save you avoidable stress.

Decide early on a target cum. GPA. Aim for a (B) cumulative grade point average, also known as a 3.0, and higher by the end of junior year.

How can you calculate your GPA? A google search reveals a host of ways to do this. There is no one formula to help you do this because every school is different.

No need spending sleepless nights worrying how you’re going to get that GPA you are aiming for. Ask your guidance counselor to show you how Columbia calculates its GPA.  It’s important to pay attention when they’re showing you how your current GPA was calculated.  Once you learn from your counselor how to calculate your GPA  you can project what future grades you need to meet your specific goals.  You can, for example, calculate based on your current scores what minimum/maximum grade you need to make in X class next quarter to get a 3.5 GPA (or what you’re aiming for) by the last quarter of Junior year (or whichever deadline you’ve set).

2. Playing by the [#1 Grading] Rule

Never get a Zero on any coursework. Submit every assignment – this includes homework.  By getting into the habit of submitting all homework a teacher collects, a student will help their GPA out immensely.  How?  By getting into the habit of submitting all homework collected a student establishes the habit of submitting every assignment collected and can potentially earn a high course grade.  Note that when an assignment is not submitted or a homework not collected by a teacher that a student receives an automatic zero assigned for that homework or assignment.  This automatically pulls one’s grade down regardless of every other “A” & “B” one might have in that class for that marking period.

An Assignment. Assignments usually carry a lot of weight on your grade.  An “0” on that chunk of a student’s grade (ex. assignment weighing 15%, 25%, 35%) will hurt one’s performance in that class during that marking period, and will in turn affect ones cumulative GPA.

Homework.  In some classes teachers calculate homework as part of your overall course grade.   However small each individual homework point is these points do add up to a homework grade.

On a final note. Late Assignments Submitting a late assignment is in a student’s best interest.  If an assignment is late, submit it rather than not.  Always clear a late assignment with a teacher.  Never assume any assignment submitted after the deadline will be accepted.

3. Finding a niche (a suitable place) for yourself (A. Academics, B. Extra-circular activities)

A. Academics.  Do your best to excel. Find a subject you like and learn as much about it as you can.  Ace those classes.  If you can move to a higher level and change classes  (in a tracking system) go for it.  Good side:  It can only expose you to more opportunities and provide you a chance to meet new people. Bad side: ??? =c)

Advanced Placement Classes. CHS has one of the largest AP course offerings in the state of NJ (and maybe even the country).  In other NJ schools you can register on your own, but at CHS it’s not so easy.  In order for you to place into an AP class two things are required: 1). A teacher recommendation & 2). A high score on the corresponding AP placement test. Ask your guidance counselor to find out when the yearly AP placement exams are offered so that you can sit for the exam.  You can begin taking AP classes as early as your Sophomore year, and, as it stands currently, you can opt out of a lunch period if necessary to fit classes into your schedule.  Believe me it’s worth it.  Take the exam even if you’re not sure what recommendation your teacher will give and let the other pieces fall into place.  And remember to involve your parents in the process.  If need be they can advocate on your behalf.  

Did you know AP classes are college level courses? At the end of each course you have the option of taking an exam that tests your knowledge of the course material you learned.  If you score a 4 or 5 on these exams colleges around the country will give you college credit for these classes!  Why is this important? Well, for example, if you get credit for 4 AP classes, you will enter college as a second semester freshman while your friends enter college as first semester freshmen! That’s one less semester for you in college = saving $$$$.   If you’re facing challenges taking AP courses at Columbia select this link (recommended by the City of Newark for its students). AP exams can be intensive at CHS.  If you want to take Advanced Placement Course Offerings at CHS ask everyone you know about when the exam will be offered, and what type of exam you will be taking so you can prepare in advance. And remember to involve your parents in the process so that they can advocate on your behalf with department heads and with guidance!

B. Extra-Circular Activities

Columbia’s Student Activity Chart

Student
Club
Student
Club
Student
Club
Achieve Tutoring
Heifer Int.
PM News

Student
Club
Student
Club
Student
Club
ACLU
Italian Cultural
Political Awareness
Student
Club
Student
Club
Student
Club
AM News
Key Club
REBEL
Student
Club
Student
Club
Student
Club
Animal Rights
Astronomy
Relay for Life
Student
Club
Student
Club
Student
Club
Chess Team
Listener’s Club
Biology Team
Student
Clubs
Student
Club
Student
Club
Cougar Nation
Math Team
Spectrum
Student
Club
Student
Club
Student
Club
FBLA
MLK Assoc.
Science League
Student
Club
Student
Club
Student
Club
FLES
Mock Trial
Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Awareness
Student
Club
Student
Club
Student
Club
Guildsript
Moot Court
Junior Class Council

Creative Commons License
PerfectlyPlanned Blog by W. S. Hughes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Resident Planning Geek says:

    The NYTimes has a great section on college admissions and aid.

    I’d like to bring attention to the article “Part 3, Answers to your back to school questions.” http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/dingledine-q-and-a-part-3/

    Question 3 (of 3) is “How much do your senior year grades matter for being admitted into college?”

    The answer is pretty informative. I’m sure some Seniors are wondering about this! Visit the link to read what the author of the article has to say. Visit the link:

    http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/dingledine-q-and-a-part-3/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s