Ladies and gentlemen, I have something to tell you. High school, academically speaking, is not that hard. If you can't muster up the low GPA or standardized test scores to move on to college sports, then you need to reassess your priorities. Even though many teenage athletes hear countless times that you can't play sports forever, most receive it in one ear, and carelessly push it out the other.
If you take one thing from this article, please let it be this: It is to your advantage to do well in sports as well as in academics. If only to get into a college that would offer decent job prospects after graduating, it's worth it to study as much as you practice. In this article, I will explain some techniques to help get your academics in check so you can play sports without worry of being put into probation or worse, completely shut down from sports.
Where I'm Coming From
I will be starting my senior year of high school in the next month or so. So far, I have managed to keep a respectable GPA that puts me in the top quarter of my class while generally taking the hardest curriculum possible.
I managed to do this while playing both baseball and track in different years. I held my own in sports, earning a varsity letter in track (to find out more about my track season, read my transformation articles).
I have well above average standardized test scores, and will probably be accepted into a good college in the early spring of next year. I say this not to brag, but to show you that it is possible to do both good on the field and in the classroom.
I have witnessed several gifted athletes being forced to enroll at a Junior/Community College because they had jaw-dropping bad grades. It would be understandable if these kids were not that bright, but most were incredibly lazy and didn't crack a textbook once during high school.
This doesn't need to happen.
Because I know you are tantalized by the offer of learning study tricks, we'll jump right in (notice the sarcasm). The truth is, it all starts with the type of environment you are in.
It has been shown all across the U.S. that high schools and prep schools gearing students toward college with an environment of success and hard work often have higher rates of students
graduating and going on to college.
If you are currently having grade troubles (not just a C in one class, but let's say a GPA below 2.0) you may need to switch to a different school. Before doing something that drastic, check out some of the smaller issues within your school.
If you hang around people that have little or no motivation to do well in school, then you need to drop them. If they don't want to do well, soon you won't either.
This ties in with the friend issue. Are you taking simple classes that don't challenge you enough that you become lazy, and let your grades slide? Drop those too. Enroll in classes where you will know your stuff, but still be challenged.
The School As A Whole
What is the general environment of your school? What percentage of each graduating class goes on to some type of higher learning? What percentage graduates, period? If it is low, try to transfer to a better school in your area, or consider going to a good prep school. Of course, if your family has financial worries, this might not be an option.
Trust me, if you are put in an environment where everybody is motivated to get into college and excel, you will too, as social pressure compels you to. In this case, social pressure is good.
It's good to be busy. Take some time to evaluate what you do every day, and on the weekend. For the usual athlete, your schedule probably involves going to school until the early afternoon, then practice, and then you probably go home. Sound hard? That is the way it should be. People are more efficient when they are busy. Here is an example.
During the second semester of my junior year, I was extremely busy. I would leave for school around 7 a.m. and it would end around 3 p.m. Then I had track practice from 3:15 to 5. After that, I worked from 5 to 9 p.m. I would get home around 9:30.
In case you have trouble figuring the math out, I was out of the house from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., of which I then had to finish whatever homework I had not completed at school or during any free moments at work. Take into account I was taking three Advanced Placement classes, as well as other rigorous classes.
I should have done sub-optimally during that time period according to conventional wisdom. This was not the case, as I ended up with straight A's and qualified for college credit on three Advanced Placement exams.
When you are super-busy, you are forced to maximize the time spent on certain things. In the case of school work, you may work harder on assignments, or study more efficiently.
This is directly opposite to people who don't do anything after school. They generally take longer to finish their assignments, don't study that efficiently, and sometimes do worse in school.
What classes should you take? In my opinion, to do well in any career, including sports, you should have strong writing and math skills. Being able to write allows you to articulate yourself in a much clearer way.
Being able to understand basic and higher levels of math can help make sure you aren't being screwed over by a bank or your agent, or even a college providing your tuition.
Also, make sure to play up your interests. I know that there are some out there who are adamantly opposed to liking any subject or school itself, but I know they are lying.
Everybody is interested in something. If you are an athlete who is interested in the human body and how it works, take anatomy or biology. If you are interested in how much money you might make someday or in the near future, take personal finance or economics.
There is something for everyone, and even if you don't have the necessary skills for certain classes, your curiosity and desire to learn will more than make up for it.
This is the key part. The most important thing is understanding the information. If you can't glean the meaning from the textbook, here are some strategies:
Write It In Your Own Words
Take a particularly hard passage, and try explaining it in your own words. Try to be as concise and clear as possible.
Buy A Supplemental Book
Say you are having trouble in American History. You could buy a book on a certain time period that might explain things better than your textbook. This works well for almost any subject.
Have Someone Else Explain It To You
Simply put, a different perspective can help you grasp the meaning.
If you are still having trouble, head on over to the local bookstore, and look in the study aid section. Most stores carry study guides for every subject under the sun, at the high school and college level.
These books break down subjects and try to explain them in a friendly format, compared to the dull textbook format.
Also, use the Internet to find websites that offer information or help on certain subjects.
You are bound to find students who have the same questions as you, and can provide help and the answers you are looking for.
One book that really helped me perfect my study habits into an efficient way was What Smart Students Know by Adam Robinson (founder of the Princeton Review). This will teach you a new and better way to study.
There are plenty of other books out there on this same subject, so feel free to look at other books that comment on how to study. More than one source helps you shape how you study.
This wouldn't be a bodybuilding.com article without a tie-in to supplements! Fortunately for people in these current times, supplement companies have started to develop products that can benefit the student, regardless of age or condition.
The broad definition of supplements that aid in thinking and focusing is called nootropics. Products like ErgoPharm's Psychotropin and Neurostim can help your brain in terms of cognition and focus.
Look into these supplements if you have trouble willing yourself into paying attention to your textbooks.
Not sold individually by Bodybuilding.com, research some of these other compounds:
There you go, several tips to help boost your GPA in hopes of staying off academic trouble.