By Sumiko Martinez

The start of another school year is always exciting – seeing friends again, breaking in those new shoes and back- to- school clothes, and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils (okay, maybe that was a little too far)  – but there’s also a lot of new and exciting things to think about!

Here are a few tips on how to have a successful school year:

Use your time wisely.

  • Stay organized – whether you use a phone app, Google calendar, or a planner, strong organizational skills will pay off every time! Between homework, extracurricular activities, and scholarships that you’re applying for, there’s a lot to remember. Start by writing down important deadlines, and then plan backwards to figure out what you need to work on first.
  • Don’t forget to dedicate some time for recovery! You’ll perform at your best if you try really hard, but then take a break to recharge and recover before giving it your best effort again. Overworking yourself is not smart, and it has damaging long-term effects. An easy way to start adding this principle into your daily routine is by using the Pomodoro Technique – work at a task (like studying for a test) for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break to walk around, doodle, listen to music, or whatever helps you re-focus. Check out this article for ideas on getting started with Pomodoros.

Prepare for studying.

  • After a summer away from school it’s a smart to brush up on good studying habits. For example, learn about the different techniques for taking notes, and which one works best for you. You might also use different note-taking techniques for different classes or purposes.
  • It’s also a good idea to review things you might have forgotten over the summer! There are plenty of free online resources you can use to jolt your memory out of summer mode. Check out Khan Academy for one such tool.

Build paying for college into your regular routine.

  • Whether it’s saving money from a summer (or year-round) job, or applying for scholarships on a regular basis, make college prep a part of your regular schedule. It’ll be time to pay for college before you know it, and the more you can do now, the easier things will be for the transition between high school and college.

Good luck, and have a great school year!

Sumiko Martinez is a Community Outreach Officer with the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA). Learn more about Sumiko at, and connect with her on Twitter @SumikoMartinez or Instagram@sumiko.martinez.