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How to Survive High School In 6 Simple Steps: A Comprehensive Shortcut to Success

By EliteLink Editor: Nicole Kim

High school is tough. From the mounds of homework, assessments, projects, and whatnot that we endure weekly to the pressures of standardized testing and college applications, it’s no secret that students get the brunt of the stress associated with the high school system. To deal with our oftentimes overwhelming responsibilities, we develop our own coping mechanisms which, unfortunately, are not always the most productive. On this note, I’m sure we’ve all been through the phase of mindless scrolling through social media when we really should be doing our work. Actually, correction: if you are like the majority of the population, this behavior is likely not just a phase but instead something that consumes most of our time and, in essence, eats away a considerable portion of our lives. What’s worse is that while we procrastinate, we do not fully feel the pleasure that we seek from Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, you name it. This is because these platforms are only an escape from our work and not a solution to the real problem of getting our work done. The thing is, the true source of our lack of productivity comes from not being able to see enough progress even when we work hard or at least for a long time. In other words, we lack the efficiency needed to motivate us to push on in our studies. In an attempt to offer potential methods to break this unhealthy cycle, I will introduce some of the methods that I found were useful yet sometimes unexpected ways to alleviate the burdens of school life. What may be surprising is that these insights ironically come from none other than YouTube, a platform that is commonly known to be a distractor rather than a facilitator of deep work. However, in this context, YouTube was able to provide me with invaluable life hacks that I likely couldn’t have discovered otherwise.

Note-Taking Should Prioritize Brevity Over Excess: Here’s Why

If you have ever fallen prey to the habit of feeling almost compelled to take notes on everything your teacher said word for word, or if you can’t identify the “most important” information in your textbook and consequently highlight or take notes on the entire thing, then you are definitely not alone. In fact, this behavior is surprisingly common in students of all ages; even I have resorted to this method for the bulk of middle school and even some of high school. However, I recently stumbled upon a uniquely effective note-taking system for exams that changed my relationship with information. Rather than trying to get down every single detail that likely would not even have appeared in the exam, a much more efficient and easy approach would be to summarize content into its fundamental ideas. By this, I mean extracting short phrases from the original body of information, then reformulating your takeaways in your own words to express them in the most concise and straightforward way possible while still ensuring that they encompass all of the main ideas of the content. Going through these condensed notes using techniques like spaced repetition and active recall would help to produce optimal results and allow the information to enter your brain with the most ease. Logically speaking, this system makes sense because the less content you need to memorize, the faster and easier you can memorize it.

How To Memorize FAST for Exams (my secrets for cramming) (YouTube Channel Name: Anas Nuur Ali)

Ceiling Over Sleeping: How To Stay Awake By Staring At The Ceiling

I’m sure that we can all agree with the popular belief that school and everything related to it can easily put us to sleep. While it may seem counter-intuitive, staring at the ceiling can actually help you stay awake in class or while studying. When engaging in this behavior, make sure only to direct your eyes upward and not your entire head, and try doing so for intervals of fifteen to thirty seconds each. I can guarantee that you will feel at least a little more refreshed and will be able to push on against your drowsiness for longer periods. So the next time you feel your head drooping from boredom and the fatigue starting to set in, try this hack! It is always helpful to stay attentive when studying or during lectures, even if it is just for a little while longer.

How to Stay Awake During Class (YouTube Channel Name: Gohar Khan)

Shapes, Scribbles, and Superpowers: Unleashing Memory Magic with Simple Drawings

When I was in my freshman year of high school, memorization was basically the bane of my existence, which drove me to search for ways to memorize faster. As I was scrolling through TED Talks, I found a rather interesting one about how drawing would help improve memory. An important concept that was introduced was that memorization is all about mental processing, and that visually processing information by creating unique images would help to stimulate memory and add a creative element to the content, which would make it distinctive to our brains and thus allow us to better comprehend and absorb the information we hope to memorize. If you are part of the vast demographic that isn’t necessarily gifted artistically, don’t worry! Your drawings don’t have to be complex at all. In fact, the ability to draw shapes is really all that you need!

First Letter Feats: From Parrot Mimicry to Memory Mastery

When I tasked myself with memorizing an essay style guide for an English assessment, I discovered that it took a lot of work for me to be able to exactly reproduce a sample essay that I had written beforehand without referencing the original. The same went for memorizing speeches; it took me a very long time to be able to read a speech from memory smoothly and confidently in a manner that closely resembled the words of the original. As I sought to find a solution that would allow me to memorize speeches, lines, and essays both quickly and seamlessly, I came across a YouTube video that introduced an unusual suggestion that was surprisingly effective. It claimed that by writing out the first letters of each word and attempting to read the original work from only those letters, we could dramatically increase our memorization speed for lengthy texts. The process went like this: first, you would read through the words a couple of times to get an idea of their contents, then you would write the first letters of each word, including punctuation, and try reading the text from the first letters only a couple of times or until you could read the whole thing from memory. And, all jokes aside, I am telling you that this method shocked me in how it allowed me to memorize lines quicker than I ever had before learning this trick. So I urge you to try it, even with this paragraph here, and hope you will be met with a similarly inspiring success.


Stopwatch Challenge: Building Focus, One Tick at a Time

If you’ve been in the online studying community for even just a short while, I’m sure that you have been exposed to a technique that is widely known as the Pomodoro Method, where you work for twenty-five minutes and take a five-minute break in between focus sessions. This method has been scientifically proven to maximize focus and prevent burnout while studying. However, if you find that this method is not for you, perhaps you should try the Flowtime Technique where, instead of setting timers, you start a stopwatch and start working for as long as you possibly can at the moment. You can even make it like a game, where you challenge your record times and try to reach peak focus faster and for longer. Another reason for the allure of this method is that the longer you work, the longer your break will be. A suggested system would be for less than twenty-five minutes of work to equate to a five-minute break, a twenty-five to fifty-minute break would translate into an eight-minute break, a fifty to ninety-minute work session would earn you a ten-minute break, and a focus session of longer than ninety minutes would give you fifteen minutes of break time. This may just give your productivity the boost you didn’t know it needed!

The Flowtime Technique (YouTube Channel Name: Gohar Khan)

Temptation Bundling: Combining Pleasure With Productivity

Finally, I will introduce a method that could be used to find motivation in your work life and that you may already be employing informally: Temptation Bundling. Basically, you take something you have to do and pair it with something that you want to do to make your responsibilities more bearable. This is different from multitasking in that, instead of doing two work-heavy tasks simultaneously, you would adjust your environment to make you feel more comfortable while getting your work done. For example, you could listen to non-distracting music while studying, watch a TV show while running on the treadmill, or sip your favorite drink as you do your homework. If you can’t help but get distracted by YouTube or social media, you could watch productivity videos or browse content related to the subjects you are studying to ease back into your work. This technique can be a game-changer if you struggle with motivating yourself to study or just find schoolwork stressful and not enjoyable overall.

A Clever Way to Motivate Yourself (YouTube Channel Name: Gohar Khan)

In this digital age, where information is at our fingertips, the influence of YouTube extends beyond entertainment and into the realm of personal development and academic success. The unconventional tips and innovative techniques I gleaned from YouTube videos not only improved my study and work habits but also equipped me with a comprehensive guidebook to navigate the pressures of high school life with confidence. As I continue my academic journey, I remain grateful for the endless possibilities and knowledge that YouTube has brought into my life, transforming my approach to learning and setting me on a path to success. After reading this blog, I hope that you find it helpful and consider applying these tips to your own life and benefit from them to the same or even a greater extent!

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