Ten Ways to Get More Out of School


Tired of the same old routine day after day? Need a jump-start for your enthusiasm? Try these tips.

1. Find out how much an education can be worth to you. “I’m not going to college or trade school after high school. I just want to get a job and start earning money.” Have you ever heard anyone say that? Does it make sense moneywise to get additional training after high school? Let’s find out:

Lifetime Earnings (USA)

High School Dropout

$515,589

High School Graduate

$889,156

2 Years of College

$1,294,454

4 Years of College

$1,890,360

(Business Week Magazine, Sept. 19, 1988)

Of course, there are no guarantees. It is possible for a college graduate to earn very little, while some people with little or no school become wealthy. But, on the average, it pays to get some kind of training after high school, either in college or at a trade school. The additional learning will also enrich your life in ways that can’t be measured in a bank balance.

2. Don’t be afraid of math or science. Math and science are only scary when you don’t get it. Once you understand the ideas, it’s easy. Usually in math problems, there’s a principle or trick involved. Understand the principle or find the trick, and it’s easy to do. Here’s an example. Let’s say you were asked to add the numbers from 1 to 10. Of course, you could do it by saying 1 + 2 = 3 then 3 + 3 = 6 and so on.

Write all the numbers down from 1 to 10. Add a zero to the far left side. Now draw a line connecting the 0 to 10, draw another line connecting the 1 and the 9, draw another line connecting the 2 and the 8, and so on until it looks like this:

Lifetime earnings chart

You have five lines drawn and each of the two numbers connected by a line adds up to ten. Five tens add up to 50. We have the five left over in the middle. So the total is five tens plus a five for a total of 55.

That’s the way math is. Learn the trick and you’re done.

3. Take some difficult classes. The secret about a difficult class is that it often ends up like belonging to a small club. The teacher may love the subject material so much that he or she will do everything possible to help you like it too. And if you’ll come to class and work a little every day on the course, the teacher will help you get through it.

4. If you enjoy a class, tell the teacher. Teachers are strange people—they love to teach. They don’t get paid nearly what they deserve. They work long hours; they volunteer for extracurricular activities; they spend their evenings grading papers or working on new ideas for classes.

Here’s how you do it. When you’re leaving class, you say, “That was really good what you said about (fill in the blank). I never thought about that before. It was interesting.”

That’s it. That’s all it takes.

Why bother? Because grown-ups hardly ever get compliments. Some adults go their entire lives never having anyone tell them they’re doing okay. They need it. And you need it too.

5. Organize a study group. What makes you think you have to do homework alone? After you’re through with your schooling and get a job, rarely will people pay you to work alone. People in companies work together solving problems.

Look around one of your classes and pick out a couple of people you’d feel comfortable working with. Go up to them and say, “I’m thinking of starting a study group for this class. I thought we could get together to do homework and study for tests. You think you might be interested in something like that?”

Studies have shown that students who work together get better grades, enjoy school more, learn to communicate, and feel better about themselves. So why not give it a try?

6. Get involved in extracurricular activities. If your school is going to put on a play, why not get involved in it? During all those hours of rehearsal, you’ll get to be good friends with others in the cast and crew. And then there’s opening night, and everyone’s nervous, but somehow you get through it. And the second night things go even better. On the last night there’s a cast party, and you get to eat pizza and tease each other and hug everyone who’s worked on the production. It’s a nice break from class.

What about sports? Maybe you’re a natural athlete and you’d go out for a team sport anyway. But even if you’re not, why not try out for one of the high school teams? Think about a sport that not many people go out for. Also, since you’re only in this for fun, you might as well pick a sport that has both boys and girls in it.

It will be more fun if you’re not too concerned about making the team. You’ll meet some new people, you’ll get to wear the school sweats, and you’ll find out how talented some people are at sports.

7. Don’t get hung up on grades. The world isn’t going to end if you get a grade less than you were hoping for. Do your best, try to learn the material, enjoy picking up new information, do the homework assigned, read the pages you’re asked to, ask questions in class, study for the tests, learn smart ways to take exams, but then, after all that, relax.

8. Ask three questions a day. The seed for the theory of relativity was planted when Albert Einstein was 16 years old. He asked himself the questions, “What would happen if a person tried to imprison a ray of light?” We don’t know how many before him had asked a similar question. We only know about the one individual who wrestled with the problem long enough to find an answer.

It was not Einstein’s brilliance in mathematics that insured his success. It was his courage to question what others had taken for granted.

When you were a child, you were curious about everything. In the process of growing up, try not to lose that sense of wonder. If we’re not careful, we’ll shrug away our own questions by thinking, “Why do I need to know that anyway?”

9. Take time for seminary. Spending part of a school day in a seminary class will make the rest of your school day seem more worthwhile. When you go to seminary, answer at least one question a day. That’s just so the teacher will know you’re alive.

It’s great to learn school subjects, but it’s also good to put in time every day learning the scriptures.

10. Pray about school. Heavenly Father is interested in you and your activities in school. He loves you and he wants you to be happy. Tell him what’s going on and ask him for help. If you’re having a test and you’re worried you might forget something you’ve studied, ask him to help you. (Don’t ask him to read the book for you though.)

What makes life worth living? Having new experiences, discovering and developing your talents, making new friends, learning something you never knew before, finding out how much Heavenly Father loves you, and realizing that you can bless the lives of others. School is a great place to learn many of these things.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Spencer Budd