DARIEN, Conn. – While many adults use the new year to make resolutions to change their lifestyle, students can also benefit from a new approach as they begin the school year’s second semester. Gwynne Campbell, executive director of the Sylvan Learning Center in Darien, says it’s important to get off to a good start for the school year’s homestretch.
“If it was a strong fall, you want to continue,’’ Campbell said. “If not, it may be necessary to re-evaluate and set some new goals. It’s always a process of evaluation and have a student ask themselves ‘How can I do better?’ It’s not always working harder. It’s working smarter.”
High school juniors, especially, face an important time in the second half of the year to enhance their college prospects. “The whole year is critical,’’ Campbell said. “They need to ramp up in the second semester. Colleges look for growth and progress.”
High school seniors also need to “overcome the senior slump,’’ she said, and maintain the work ethic and consistent grade-point-average, even if they’ve been accepted to college. Freshmen should be adapting better to the high school workload and sophomores should be evaluating which classes they will need to improve their college prospects. For a complete set of tips from Sylvan, read the attached PDF.
Campbell said communication is key throughout the education process, but especially if students struggled in the first semester.
“The most logical question to ask is if the student is getting as much help as they can outside of the classroom,’’ she said. “Schools have early morning support for 30 or 40 minutes. Students should talk to the teacher and see why they’re struggling. If they are doing those and still need more, they may need outside help.
"Students need to be realistic about their strengths and weaknesses,’’ Campbell continued. “Not all students are equally as strong in all subjects. Students will gain more confidence and success when they focus on their areas of strength, but still try to shore up those areas of weakness by seeking appropriate help."
Even if the first semester went well, students should be prepared for a challenging second semester, too. “The key is not to get cocky or over confident,’’ she said. “Just because they did well doesn’t mean they don’t have to work as hard. The content does change. Most kids can get through the first half of Algebra 2 or geometry, and they get to a section in the second half that is entirely different. Sometimes kids just need help with certain topics.”
Particularly in high school, students need to be proactive about approaching teachers and getting the help that they need. Parents should also maintain a dialogue with teachers of struggling students.
“Teachers have a lot of kids,’’ Campbell said. “As good as the teachers and counselors are, it’s OK to remind them that something is critical to the learning style for their kids. Some need more visual input. Some are more auditory, and others are more tactile. Teachers need to be reminded sometimes.”