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Willamette Connections Academy counselor offers teens tips on best ways to navigate high school.

Recent news reports about Oregon's high school graduation requirements may have students wondering what they can do to be successful. While we wait to see what the future holds for graduation standards, students can still work hard to earn credits, get good grades and become involved in activities.COURTESY PHOTO: WILLAMETTE CONNECTIONS ACADEMY - Cindy Babikoff

Try some of these tips to help finish the school year strong and ready for the future.


Good study habits are the foundation for success. Be prepared for class and finish assignments on time, and if a test is coming up, start reviewing material a week early instead of cramming the night before. Taking good notes during class not only helps retain the information, but also help prepare for those exams.

It is also good practice to meet with your counselor to see if you're on track for graduation and post-high school goals.


Having study materials organized in a distraction-free, dedicated space for doing schoolwork will help you focus.

In addition to setting up a learning space, creating a daily routine that includes dedicated study time as well as opportunities to decompress with friends or doing other activities you enjoy is essential to maintaining a healthy balance between work and fun.

Try using a calendar or a daily planner to keep on top of your schedule and assignments.


High school is a good time for exploring new areas of growth. Getting involved in school clubs, athletics, hobbies or community programs not only will look great on your college application, it may help steer your career plans if you want to start working after graduation.

Extracurriculars also offer opportunities to do what you enjoy and present social opportunities to meet people outside your usual circle of friends. Working with a group of people outside of school will help build essential life skills, like teamwork, goal setting, leadership, analytical thinking and more.


With all the extracurricular activities, homework and more, remember to take care of yourself. You won't be on your "A" game if your health is suffering.

Sleep is a critical factor for healthy teens (around nine hours is recommended each night). Lack of sleep leads to poor concentration and impacts grades, so make sure to turn off screens and get a good night's rest.

Healthy learners also need a balanced diet and lots of water to keep their brains hydrated and their minds focused. Try to avoid junk food and eat meals loaded with vitamins and nutrients that will boost energy.

Exercise is also essential. If you're not involved with a sport, go outside every day, even for a few minutes. Try playing with pets, riding a bike, shooting some hoops or taking a walk in the park

These measures to improve physical health will boost your mental health as well. Keeping active and eating well will go a long way in helpingstay energized and prepared for finishing the school year strong.


Willamette Connections Academy, like many high schools across Oregon, has special programs to ensure freshmen get off to a good start and seniors finish strong. Enrolling in classes like these are a great first step to helping prepare for life after graduation.

Keep in mind that teachers want to assist. If you have questions about an assignment or other issues, communicate those to your teacher. They can help you ace that assignment and prepare for that test with confidence.

High school requires teamwork to get through all four years, so make sure you have people you trust on your team, ranging from family, friends, teachers and coaches. Reach out to team members when you're feeling overwhelmed.

When in doubt, contact your high school counselors. We can listen and find the resources you need whether it be social, emotional, academic or something else. Counselors not only navigate current problems but also look ahead to post-high school years.

Each high school student is different, but hopefully a few of these tips are helpful.

After a while, you can probably make your own list for success, full of good habits to carry with you beyond high school.

Cindy Babikoff is a high school counselor at Willamette Connections Academy, a full-time, tuition-free online public school serving K-12 students statewide. Learn more at or call 800-382-6010.

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