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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources
Survive High School with These 8 Life Hacks - Philomena Kelly

Survive High School with These 8 Life Hacks

4 minutes

Summary

Philomena Kelly shares an 8-tip guide from her experience as a Seton high schooler. Studies are already challenging enough, so know when to pace yourself.

From the "Top 20 All Time Most Popular Articles."

Editors Note:Originally published June 3, 2014.

High school? Hard. Homeschool? Difficult. Put them together? One of the most challenging—yet gratifying—rides of your life.

Whether you’re a freshman just starting your first year, or a senior trying to finish up your last, you probably already know that it’s going to put you to the ultimate test, and if you didn’t, well surprise! It will.

I hate to say it, but being a homeschooled high schooler is incredibly difficult, but the end result makes up for any sort of torture you think Seton’s intense curriculum has to offer.

Now, I’m in my third (going on fourth) year of high school, and I would like to share with you—yes you, the homeschool teenager who has no idea what to expect—the tricks to succeed that I wish I knew about when I was starting out.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Fall Behind.

High school isn’t a competition of who can finish first. I’m not talking about a few years behind, but if you’re having trouble with something, spend extra time on it.

Sure, you might finish your school year a little late into the summer, but because of it, you’ll be better prepared for everything, and get good grades. Quality over quantity, always.

2. Learn. How. To. Study.

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I cannot stress this enough. Even if you “already know” the material, if you learn good study habits now, you’ll be able to ace tests with information that you didn’t already know—trust me, it will happen.

Whether in high school or in college, you will have things you don’t know and you will have to study.

3. Write Constantly.

Make it a priority to write something at least once every day, no matter what it is. Original story? Great! Write down the concept. English assignment? Even better! Write it out. Even if you just write down your thoughts, that’s one step closer to being able to write a slammin SAT essay and college admittance letters.

Start a journal. Write about space alien pirates. Reflect on deep thoughts about nature. It doesn’t matter if it’s written terribly or has no punctuation or grammar (unless it’s that English essay, then you might want to include those).

Writing every day will help you become a better writer and help words flow more naturally, and it becomes a habit. So when you’re faced with your first research report, you’ll be able to write out a quick draft faster than you can say “straight—A student.”

4. Motivate Yourself.

Because homeschooling has no deadlines, you might think “Hey, I have no deadline, so I’ll save it for tomorrow,” and then go to book club or football or deep sea diving – whatever the kids are doing nowadays. You need to be able to tell yourself that you are going to get things done, and then actually do them.

Mom and Dad aren’t going to be holding your hand anymore. Set goals, such as accomplishing X, Y, and Z assignments in three weeks. If you succeed, treat yourself! Eat something you love; buy yourself that new book you’ve been looking at. Anything that is special and you don’t do on a regular basis can be a reward.

You can even use the reward system for small things, like finishing everything you planned for the day and rewarding yourself with gummy bears or chocolate milk. Whatever floats your metaphorical boat.

5. Use the Pomodoro Technique.

A technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s can be helpful with everything from studying to regular daily work. You work in twenty-five minute increments, and after each take a five minute break. Stretch your legs, walk around the house a bit, do some sit-ups. Get your blood moving in some way, then go back to work.

For every four work sessions, take a twenty minute break. Maybe go for a symbolic boat ride on your metaphorical boat. The times, of course, can be adjusted to your specific studying/break needs.

Shorten the breaks or lengthen the study intervals – it’s up to you.

6. Stay Organized.

This is perhaps one of the most important steps in this article. An organized workspace leads to an organized mind. Make a specific work space for yourself which you work at each day. Try as hard as you can for it not to be on your bed, and if it is out of necessity, make the bed before you use it.

Throw off all the pillows to prevent temptation to take a snooze. Try using a large plank of wood as a hard surface to work on. Keep your space clean at all times. Have a specific shelf and notebook(s) for just school stuff. Get a pencil holder.

You could even decorate your desk with stickers, streamers, and maybe even paint it. This makes it more welcoming for you to work at instead of a bland and empty space. Each weekend, take just a bit of time out and make a schedule for the following week.

It may seem pointless, but it is incredibly helpful and incredibly important.


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7. It’s High School. Do Not Stress About College.

There is a plan written in heaven for you, I promise. Don’t stress about picking your career while you’re still in high school. If you need to, take a year off between high school and college to sort out what you want out of life.

Maybe college isn’t even the best place for you—you never know where God will be leading you.

8. Remember to Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help.

Never be afraid to ask for help from your parents, older siblings, Seton counselors, your priest, and even God. Just ask, the worst that could happen is that they can’t help, except for for God, Who will always find a way to get you what you need.

I hope that this guide will give you the help and guidance which I needed when I was starting high school. Nothing in this guide has to be followed to a T; make whatever changes to it that you want.

God Bless.

Note to the moms and dads reading this:

You’re going to need to let your kid do many assignments on their own, or they won’t be able to do things without you there. It’s better to teach the ducklings how to fly when they’re in the nest, than to kick them out into college and expect them to fly on their own. Go do something that you enjoy. Take a few hours off—watch a movie, go for a walk, go deep sea diving. Take out that metaphorical boat.

About Philomena Kelly

Philomena-Kelly
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My name is Philomena Kelly, and I've been homeschooled for the past eleven years and have been living on this little planet of Earth for the past sixteen years. I'm the second youngest in a family of six kids (all homeschooled too, yikes). I spend most of my time thinking about writing and maybe not enough time actually doing it, drawing, and trying to figure out little ways to make life easier for the rest of us.

Header Image CC Jonathan Kos-Read

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  • Kate

    Spot on article; so true! These tips will be immensely helpful in college and the workforce as well. As much as I’d have hated to admit while going through Seton myself, these skills are so (so so so so!) worth learning before entering college and the working world. It’s painful at the time, but goodness is it helpful later. Great article!

  • Michelle A

    I soooo needed to read this!! Thank you for all the ideas! I wrote all of them down! My oldest son starts 9th grade this year. I have been freaking out about it…even losing sleep!! Your article has helped me realize I need to get organized and stay on top of things. I really loved what you said in number seven! My son really doesn’t know what he wants to do yet. Thank you again for sharing your experience! You are a very talented writer too!!!! Have a nice summer and good luck with your final year in school!

  • Tracy R

    Thank you so much for the ideas. I will pass this on to my high schooler. One thing my daughter has learned is that even when she encounters the hard stuff, its for a reason and you only benefit from it later on.

  • Nikolai

    Good article. :) Your little bio made my day. haha

  • Love the humor, style, and advice. Just an all-around fantastic article!

  • Kate Knighton

    Love this! I’m going into eleventh grade and I think that this article is going to help me so much. Keep writing! :)

  • Tracy

    Great article! I was unfamiliar with the Pomodoro Technique – I think it will come in handy with my soon-to-be eighth grader!

  • aida

    Thank you, Philomena! Your article has made me understand my son’s perspective better. It also reaffirmed how I planned to cope with his high school years. God bless you and all you do+

  • Concerned girl

    ‘There is a plan written in heaven for you’ is not biblically accurate and therfore misleading.

    • But it is in the spirit of Scripture, the Catechism and God’s eternal destiny for each of us. Her words speak to a larger concept. :)

    • Therese Jacobs

      “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139
      I can’t speak for the author, but I think that having all our days written in God’s book and the like may be was to what she was referring.

    • Mary

      “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

      God clearly has a plan for us. He knew us, and had plans for our lives, even before we were formed in the womb.

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  • Gabriella

    I agree with the first paragraph about homeschooling high school is hard! Ugh. But this are great tips not just for high schools but for all grades. I enjoyed the humor too! My mom read the article aloud to me(10th) and my two sisters (12th and 8th) and brother (6th) we all are going to remember the awesome tips!

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