10 Back to School Tips From a 20-Something (With Plenty of Experience)

Back to School

The month of August is a crazy month for much of America. Almost everyone is trying to shove one more vacation to the beach in. And to complicate everything, it’s also back to school time.

Back to school can be a crazy time. The lines at Staples and Office Depot are a mile long (everyone wants notebooks for a dollar). And who wants to deal with that? So, you look for advice to do the shopping schlep better.

Unfortunately, all much of the advice is something like “buy more pencils”, “get a new backpack”, etc. It’s the same every. single. year.

This needs to change. You know how to buy school supplies. But, there’s rarely advice about how to tackle the school year. You do want to make it a successful school year, right?

How do you get actual advice your students can use?

Out of my 25 years on this earth, 16 of them have been spent “going back to school”. As veterans say, that’s a lot of experience! Here’s what I recommend to make the most of the next 180 days of school:

1. Get to know your teachers

Probably the most important on the list (and why it’s number one). Get to know your teachers. Start conversations about your life, their life – whatever. Go to them for help and build up rapport. Why put all this effort it in? It’s because you never know when you’re going to have to call upon them. It could be help with a problem outside of school, a job recommendation, etc. Stay well-connected!

2. Use technology to learn faster

If you’re still handwriting note cards for tests and using a pad of paper to keep your to-do list, it’s time to upgrade your technology. You can make your own quiz to help you remember concepts. Plus, use one of these to-do list apps to help keep your life organized. Technology is here to help you get more done. Take advantage of it.

3. Find the right friends

Your school is packed with other students. Some you’ve met and some you haven’t. Others are close friends, acquaintances, and enemies. Don’t try to be friends with everyone. It’ll make your social schedule too hard to handle. Make this the year to get a core group of friends – 5 or 10, that have your back.

4. Pack your lunch

Even though getting hot lunch daily is easy and delicious, it costs you (or your parents) a pretty good chunk of change. It’s time to brown bag it. Bringing your lunch to school has it’s benefits: it’s cheaper, you have more control over what you bring (read: healthy), and you can trade with other students for what they brought.

5. Make recess mandatory

You’ve got to have time to play. Whether that means hanging out with friends, building a fort in the woods, or playing kickball after school, recess (or outdoor activity) is a chance to recharge, get a breath of fresh air, and keep your body moving. Don’t have recess anymore? Go for a walk at lunch or hit the gym (for the older students).

6. You don’t need a new backpack

Parents get their kids a new backpack every year (and new clothes, shoes, etc). Gotta make that first-day-back fashion statement. Honestly? I don’t think you have to. Save your pennies. Don’t get all new stuff. You’re in school to learn, to become a better citizen, and find your personal path. Who cares if your zipper is broken?

7. Participate in class

It’s nerve-racking to raise your hand in class. You’re labeled as the nerd for answering the teacher’s questions. And you might even be wrong. But class participation (as it may be part of your grade) is crucial for back-to-school success. And an even better idea? Challenge the teacher. If you’ve got a different opinion, put it out there. Debates keep it interesting.

8. Take a class out of your comfort zone

If you’re able to select the classes you take, I urge you to take a new class. Something you would have never considered. It helps you think outside the box, learn something different, and meet new people. For me, it was architecture & drafting in high school and African pop-culture in college. Both classes ended up being one of my favorites – and I would have never taken them otherwise. What’s it going to be for you this year?

9. Resist Senioritis

I remember not caring about the end of 8th grade. I was going to high school next year. 8th grade didn’t matter anymore. The same with senior year of high school and college. But, senioritis hurt me academically. I needed to keep my grades up to get good placement in high school, a college to accept me, and – the most important – a job after college. Don’t slack off, if it’s your senior year. Finish strong and it’ll pay off. Do it for your future.

10. Have fun (obviously!)

This one’s obvious. But, seriously – smile a lot. Have fun. Do something new, take some risks, and enjoy this school year. If you’re in 8th grade, ask a girl out. In high school? try out for a sports team. Entering your senior year of college? Get off campus and explore the city with some friends.

Hopefully these tips were refreshing – regardless if you’re a parent, teacher, or student. Sure, you need to have enough binders and sheet protectors, but back to school is so much more. It’s a chance to start fresh, do thing you’ve never imagined, and find who you are.

What tips would you add? Let us know in the comments.

PS: Have you tried QuizBean – it’s a free online quiz maker.

Photo from Flikr, courtesy of reikhavoc


  • I reckon that your tips seem to eb so practical (straight to the point). Though I do not live in your country, but feel that all these juicy ideas will prove useful to our students, parents and teachers themselves . Congratulations and keep on contributing with out of the box views in this fascinating adventure:LEARNING!!

    • Michael Adams

      Thanks, Frida! Glad you enjoyed the article!

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