How to succeed in high schoolI am going into high school in August and am taking three honors classes. English H, Biology H, and History H. I am worried that maybe this is too much and I won't be...

How to succeed in high school

I am going into high school in August and am taking three honors classes. English H, Biology H, and History H. I am worried that maybe this is too much and I won't be able to keep up in all my classes, which is not an option for me. If you teach an Honors class please give me any advice on how to best succeed. How much homework do you assign on a regular basis? How are the classes run? How many chapters a night are we expected to read? (For English Honors) How many pages are we expected to outline? What are the tests like? Thank you for all your help.

Asked on by krozova

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hadley818's profile pic

hadley818 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

I teach honors classes now and I remember being in the honors classes when I was in high school. There were a few times when I made the mistake of thinking I could get by with not reading the actual text and reading the online summaries instead. Like Poster #7 said, this is a bad idea! Make sure you read everything, because teachers like to test on things that are not in the summaries. Honors classes should have more in-depth, critical thinking questions that can only be answered if you have a thorough understanding of the text.  The other posters also gave some great advice. For my honors classes, we read five novels and many short stories over the course of the trimester, so there is quite a bit of reading. Make sure you keep up so you don't have to do read a book in one night:)

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree that you are the conscientious one who will make the grade.  If you are an accomplished reader, which is probably the case, you will succeed.  Keep your ears and eyes open.  A motivated student has no handicap in the race if she keeps pace throughout. 

Listen, if some of your older teachers could make it through courses in which teachers gave a novel a month (that they really read--there were no summaries!) not to mention essays, essays, essays, you will make it in these contemporary times if you can keep your stress from overcoming you. Remain diligent! 

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Here's one thing I know for sure:  if you're asking these kinds of questions now, you're exactly the kind of student who will be successful during even this difficult year.  You've gotten lots of really valuable and practical advice, so I'm going to remind you why you're doing this.  What you do in high school is practice not only for college but for the rest of your life.  A strong work ethic is a life skill, and it's something that enhances whatever degree or training you get after high school.  You're creating a discipline and order for your life as a student, as an adult, as an employee, and as whatever roles you have later in your life.  I commend you for starting that commitment now, and I'd encourage you--when things get difficult, and they will--to remember your long-term goals as you finish each race, so to speak.  I can tell I'd love to have you in one of my classes!

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I know that you feel under pressure, and that is certainly understandable.  Not only is entering high school a big change, but you are going to be taking classes that will challenge you--that's a good thing!

I second the advice that you received above and would like to add one more suggestion.  Read--don't skim or use SparkNotes, etc.,--all of your assignments.  While sites that help clarify works (such as eNotes) are helpful, nothing replaces your reading the assignment yourself.  The danger in being pressed for time with reading assignments is that students are tempted to just get a summary from a friend or search online for a quick overview.  Those summaries will not be sufficient for most honors classes (at least not at my school), and what happens over time is that you rob yourself of the opportunity to practice reading and analyzing challenging texts.  I see this happen every year with my AP English students.  They have spent most of their years in honors English classes, and for most of that time they have read summaries of works rather than the works themselves.  When it comes time for them to take their SATs or AP exams, they struggle immensely because there is no website or booklet available during the exam to summarize the reading passages for them.  If you can establish good reading habits in the ninth grade, your life will much easier by the time you are a junior.

One of the best practices you can establish now is to ask your teachers for clarification if you need it.  Most teachers will stay after school, work with you at lunch, or come in early to help you with writing assignments or questions about a reading assignment--that's what we are there for; so please take advantage of that help.

In regards to reading assignments, the number of pages you will be assigned a night varies.  I teach an honors class that is made up of mainly sophomores.  When I assign reading to them, I always try to keep in mind that they have quite a few other challenging classes as well.  I usually assign about 20 pages of reading/night, but that depends on what we are doing in class and also upon the difficulty of the book (if it's challenging reading like Shakespeare, I assign less).  Sometimes the homework in my classes is writing or something, but I do try to not assign double homework (something that requires a student to read a long section while working on a project).  If you can keep up with your homework, that will help you a great deal.  If your teacher just assigns you a book and tells you to complete it by a certain date, try to break it into reasonable portions yourself so that you don't have to stay up one night trying to read The Scarlet Letter:).

In regards to whether to take 9th grade honors English, you will have to check with your school about whether you can take AP classes without the honors classes.  At my school, those 9th and 10 grade honors classes are prerequisites for AP English Lang. and Lit., but I have had some students whose parents have signed parent overrides to get them into AP classes without the honors classes.  Unfortunately, that doesn't normally work well for the student, because he or she has missed practicing skills and reading works that the honors students have practiced or read. In the past 4 years, I have taught very few students who did not take the honors English classes and still passed the AP exam.

While it seems daunting to you right now, please don't drop your honors classes.  As previous posters have noted, your previous teachers must have placed you in honors classes for a reason, and the fact that you are thinking about your workload already demonstrates that you are ambitious and diligent.  You can do it, and when you make it successfully through your ninth grade year, you'll be glad that you stuck with it.

besure77's profile pic

besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

If you ever feel that you are becoming overwhelmed, by all means ask for help. This is the best thing that you can do. Your teachers will be more than happy to help you. Also, get lots of sleep every night. Most teens do not get the right amount of sleep that they need every night. It sounds like you are very ambitious and I am sure with a positive attitude you will do great!

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I love that the first answer reminds you about healthy eating and sleeping habits.  It is true most high school students forgo these basics - and thereby weaken their immune systems - causing them to be lethargic and more susceptible to sickness.  Great advice.

The only other thing I would add is to not stress too much over the honors classes.  Across America the teacher sentiment about honors classes is the same: the behavior is better, but the classes aren't that much harder.  That said, do your best and keep your grades as high as possible.  Look toward taking AP classes your 11th and 12th grade years - which will be your best preparation for college.

If you still feel worried - in the first week of class, take time to personally talk to your teachers.  Let them know that you want to be successful and would take any advice they have.  This will make your teachers aware of your attitude right away, which will definitely be in your favor.  Also, it will help you get any inside tips straight from the source.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

It's good that you are thinking about these things ahead of time, and this suggests that you are already a good student.  Since you have been accepted into three honors classes, obviously other people think so too.

How much work you'll have and whether or not you can keep up with it all is going to vary a lot, depending on your teachers, your school and your own personal work and study habits.

I'd give you a few suggestions to help you succeed in high school:

1) Ask for help when you need it.  Don't get behind and then do so, ask immediately when you feel overwhelmed or do not understand something.  Teachers, myself included, actually like it when students are proactive like this.

2) Study some every night, so you can pace yourself.  Don't wait until the last day before its due to start projects or assignments.  Don't stay up all night, this won't help you - get plenty of sleep and take one day off per week just to do something fun and be a kid.

3)  Eat well.  Seriously.  Have a good, nutritious breakfast - not junk food or energy drinks.  Get enough sleep - should be close to seven or eight hours for someone your age.  And drink plenty of water.  Your brain will function much better that way.

Good luck!  I'm sure you'll do fine.

udonbutterfly's profile pic

udonbutterfly | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

 When I was in high school I took nothing but Honors and AP. When I was coming in from middle  school I had the same anxiety as you and I kept wondering is this too much for me? But then as I experience the classes I realized that of course the classes are not meant to make it seem as if too much it's more about growing into a capacity having more responsibilities. The teachers will teach you what needs to be done before they expect much from you and before you know it you're ready to take on the Essays and the projects. It really becomes easy and teachers can be great with transitioning the work load on you. Also I found that honor classes cared more about the quality of work than the quantity which resulted in less work than remedial classes.

Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

The best way to succeed in high school is to stay organized. You may not have used that school issued planner in middle school but I promise you will come to learn to love it in high school. Resist the urge to slack off and study every night. Join lots of extracurricular clubs that will enhance your education like Math Counts, Science Olympiad, etc. 

krozova's profile pic

krozova | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I love that the first answer reminds you about healthy eating and sleeping habits.  It is true most high school students forgo these basics - and thereby weaken their immune systems - causing them to be lethargic and more susceptible to sickness.  Great advice.

The only other thing I would add is to not stress too much over the honors classes.  Across America the teacher sentiment about honors classes is the same: the behavior is better, but the classes aren't that much harder.  That said, do your best and keep your grades as high as possible.  Look toward taking AP classes your 11th and 12th grade years - which will be your best preparation for college.

If you still feel worried - in the first week of class, take time to personally talk to your teachers.  Let them know that you want to be successful and would take any advice they have.  This will make your teachers aware of your attitude right away, which will definitely be in your favor.  Also, it will help you get any inside tips straight from the source.

First of all I would like to thank you for taking the time and effort to reply to my post. Your suggestions and support mean a lot to me. I was wondering if ninth grade honors are always required as a prerequisite in order to take a tenth grade honors class because this was one of the reasons that I chose to take honors in ninth grade so that I would be qualified to take AP classes in 11th and 12th. This is what my high school made me think during the freshmen orientation. Thank you once more and I look forward to hearing from you again.

krozova's profile pic

krozova | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Thank you for all your help. I truly appreciate it. You really cooled down my worries and I will defenitely remember and use, your suggestions. I am really looking forward to the first day of high school and with all of these wonderful tips I am sure that I will be able to do great. Thank you.

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