Before I clamber up onto my very high horse and tell you all how you should be living your life, let me first give you my brief educational history. As a Harry Potter fan, I literally thought that I was Hermione Granger going into first year, so I studied like hell all that year. But then boy trouble and friend trouble and body trouble got in the way in second year (totally normal!). I didn’t really do work until my junior cert pres where I studied like crazy.
I ultimately did very well in my Junior Cert, however, it was at the cost of my mental health. By fifth year, I decided that I was going to stay in bed for the rest of my life and watch Greys Anatomy i.e. no study or motivation. Then once lockdown happened, a good friend of mine had the guts to tell me (very lovingly) to cop on and that going to a good university was something that I actually did want to do and the only thing stopping me was (as usual) my self-esteem. Now I’m in 6th year and I’m really trying to pull up my grades to get into one of my dream colleges both in Ireland and abroad.
As you can see, school has been a bumpy ride for me. Full of drama and guilt about not studying, then overstudying, and then getting burnt out! But guess what kids? In three weeks’ time, technically I’ll be a fully-fledged ADULT! So the past few weeks I’ve been figuring out how to do this whole “school” thing in a way that doesn’t make me want to pull out my hair and crawl into bed and cry. I am by no means an expert. I’m not a genius and I’m not aiming for ridiculously high points, so from one average Joe to another, here’s what I’ve learned.
Get friends who will motivate you: At least once a week, I take a notion and decide I want to drop out and become some sort of professional friendship bracelet maker. 6th year is tough! So make pacts with your friends that ye are in it together and motivate each other! Remind each other of the amazing future waiting for you if ya just squeeeeeeze out that English essay.
Sleep! Please! For the love of God do NOT pull an all-nighter studying. I’m not even going to explain this one, you should know by now.
Make a timetable and a study plan: Look, I get it. It’s not exactly the “coolest” way of doing things. As a creative, free spirit type, it feels like I’m signing over my soul as I write my to-do list every morning but I promise you that it’s so effective. And when you feel overwhelmed, at least you know that you have a plan.
Exercise: Do yoga to the new Taylor Swift album. Have a dance party with your dog. Run as fast as you can around the green by your house. I don’t care. But just move your body, once every two days if you can.
Have a treat: Yes, healthy food is important but I’d recommend a little something nice in your lunchbox or waiting for you when you get home. Sometimes I bring a flask of coffee, sometimes a good crisp blah, sometimes I get home and have a Dairymilk chocolate bar and a cup of tea and read a bit of Marian Keyes (best thing ever!). Just make sure you have something nice food-related to look forward to.
Revise, revise, revise: We forget so much of what we initially study. I put aside one hour of my day to just go over any random chapter from any random subject.
Finally, remember that your books are such a small part of education: Listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, and read newspaper articles! Especially for subjects like English, Irish, history, French, and religion. There are some amazing news sites as Gaeilge. Or what about the Micheal Collins movie? Immerse yourself in education. Maybe you’ll even find that you’re enjoying your subjects more.
On a final note. You are only 17 or 18 once. You are falling in love, getting your heartbroken, figuring out your spirituality, your personality, your morals. These are the things that make life what it is, not school. Remember what’s important: you are loved. Being kind will get you a lot further than being smart ever will. (But hey! Being both doesn’t hurt!)
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