ADVERTISEMENT

It’s that time of year again. The aroma of freshly sharpened pencils and brand new jeans is prominent. However, despite all the “new” going on in the first few weeks of September, don’t some things feel like they have remained the same from year to year? You make the same plans to hang out with friends Friday after school; you always procrastinate doing homework until the last minute. Why not change it a bit this year and take time to better yourself and others? You’d be surprised how simple little changes can alter your happiness in school and at home. Here are seven tips to improve the 2013-14 school year.

1. Switch up your style. Think about your hair. Perhaps consider bangs, layers or donating your hair to an organization (Locks of Love, Wigs for Kids, etc.). Simply wearing your hair differently every day keeps you from getting bored with it. As for clothing, grab colors you wouldn’t normally choose. Shop at stores you’ve never visited.

2. Join a club/sport. This is a common tip, but it’s an easy thing to accomplish. Schools offer a surplus of clubs and sports. There’s something for everyone. Maybe learn a new instrument and get involved in the school music programs. Join something with friends, and if you don’t find anything that piques your interest, talk to a teacher and create a club of your own.

3. Set academic goals. Consider what you want your grade-point average to be. What grade do you want to receive on your upcoming quiz? Ask yourself where you want to be academically and set goals to get there.

Patrick Heyden, principal at Kenmore East High School, knows the consequences of not setting goals.

“If a student does not set academic goals, then their academic career can seem random or without purpose,” Heyden said.

Kenmore East Assistant Principal Christopher Ginestre sees students flourish when they set academic goals.

“Our most successful students are successful because they understand what they want to achieve and understand the steps they need to take and the effort that it involves to get there,” Ginestre said.

4. Set more general goals. This is similar to tip No. 3, only taken beyond school. Setting goals will keep you organized and responsible. Try saving money instead of spending it on purchases that aren’t necessary, such as overpriced packs of gum. Save your money for something you really want.

5. Attempt to put down the electronics. (This one is difficult for teenagers, no doubt.) Try to last a few hours (or a few days if you’re feeling brave) without using your phone or other electronic device. Choose books or magazines as an alternative to television, or spend time outdoors in your backyard/neighborhood. Instead of texting friends, meet with them in person.

6. Exercise. As mentioned in the last tip, going outside is a great option, as it provides exercise for your body. Go for a relaxing jog. Walk with friends or walk the dog. This might not even feel like exercise, but it is. As for mental training, crossword puzzles or Sudoku give your brain a workout and keep it alert for school. Lumosity (www.lumosity.com) is an online website that gives your brain short, easy games that help improve focus, memory and more. In a recent email, Dr. Joe Hardy, vice president of research and development at Lumosity, mentioned how the program helps teens.

“Preliminary research findings from Lumosity’s Education Access Program (LEAP) have found that students who trained with Lumosity improved more on a battery of cognitive assessments than students who only engaged in education-as-usual. In addition, the more students’ trained with Lumosity, the more they improved.”

7. Find a “you” day. Take a day off where you can relax and pamper yourself. Why? Let’s face it, you deserve it. Plus, it will reduce your stress level immensely. Curl up with a good book, get comfy on the couch to watch a movie, or indulge yourself with your favorite foods. There are infinite ways to treat yourself.

This school year doesn’t need to be a repeat of every other year. If you put yourself out there and expand your comfort zone even the slightest bit, the results might just please you.

Allison Rapp is a freshman at Kenmore West High School.