Get Started on Good Habits Now

The jump from the expectations in 8th grade to the expectations and workload in 9th grade is a significant transition in a student’s life, especially if they’re attending a college prep institution. Suddenly, proactive life skills like time management, goal-setting, effective study habits and remaining organized are not just important, but required in order to succeed. Research has shown that executive function skills are a greater predictor of success than IQ.

According to IvyWise, “It goes without saying that these skills are essential for success in high school and college, and the earlier a student can develop them, the better prepared they will be. In our experience, a significant portion of 9th graders are still developing their study skills once they enter high school, and that can often hamper their performance in the classroom. If colleges are looking at all four years of grades and activities, and students are struggling to develop their study skills in 9th grade, they’ll have an even bigger hole to dig out of as the school year progresses.”

In a recent survey of education professionals, School Planner confirmed that “lack of organization” is the top barrier to student success.

Developing new habits and skills doesn’t have to be difficult – it just takes time, consistency, adaptability and dedication. And it will pay off with a more meaningful learning experience and better academic performance.

Maintaining Focus in an Age of Distractions

To improve organization, time management, and study habits, students should implement the following strategies while still in middle school:

Create a Schedule:

  • Develop a weekly or monthly schedule that includes classes, study sessions, extracurricular activities, and personal time.
  • Stick to a routine as much as possible, including consistent wake-up and bedtime. Your sleep schedule matters too!

Use a Planner:

  • Invest in a planner or use digital tools to keep track of assignments, deadlines, and important dates.
  • Break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps.
  • You can plan days, weeks – even months.

Prioritize Tasks:

  • Identify and prioritize tasks based on deadlines and importance.
  • Emphasize brevity: Avoid overwhelming to-do lists by focusing on a manageable number of tasks.
  • Focus on high-priority items first and avoid procrastination – This is a tough one for everyone, but worth it in the long run.

Set Realistic Goals:

  • Establish both short-term and long-term goals for academic and personal development.
  • Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable tasks.
  • Consistently check your progress in achieving your goals but using real evidence – for example, for academic goals use grades on current assignments and teacher feedback.

Create a Productive Study Environment:

  • Find a quiet and comfortable space for studying with minimal distractions – and that includes devices and notifications.
  • Ensure good lighting and have all necessary materials readily available.
  • Limit multitasking and focus on one thing at a time to improve efficiency and understanding.

Stay Organized:

  • Keep notebooks, folders, and study materials well-organized.
  • Regularly clean and declutter your study space.

Take Breaks and Practice Self-Care:

  • Allow yourself short breaks during study sessions to avoid burnout.
  • Use a timer to help maintain focus – be ready to being working immediately when the timer goes off.
  • Ensure you get enough sleep, exercise and maintain a healthy diet.

A Time to Grow

Young adulthood is a time of personal and academic growth, with the opportunity to master time management, organizational and study skills that will provide a lifetime of dividends – in high school, college and beyond. Be understanding and patient. After all, developing one’s own routine takes time. Support your student as they take on these new responsibilities and watch their confidence, performance and potential soar.

Learn More About Us

At St. Thomas High School, a Roman Catholic college preparatory school for young men in grades 9-12 in Houston, Texas, we are focused on educating and enriching outstanding young minds during the most formative years of their lives. Through high-tech classrooms and state-of-the-art athletic facilities to the constant celebration of its rich and storied tradition, the diverse and welcoming St. Thomas community prides itself on providing the most fulfilling and well-rounded high school experience to inquisitive, ambitious and extraordinary young men. We foster a brotherhood for life.