Student Life

Ten Brilliant Back-to-School Hacks for Students

The back-to-school season brings high school and college students new experiences, events, and challenges. Look at these ten, creative student hacks that’ll make your school smooth, AND make you wonder “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

Student Contributor, Piper Megellas

August 31, 2021

Ten Brilliant Back-to-School Hacks for Students
The possibilities are endless; don’t hesitate to think outside of the box - your grades will thank you.
Seeing your friends again, getting back to your sports or clubs, and learning more about your favorite subjects - back to school, high school or college can be an exciting time. Unfortunately, it also may come with waking up at the crack of dawn, struggling to study effectively, and stressing out over deadlines. These are the kinds of challenges that make some high school students wish summer break could last forever. Fortunately, you don’t have to feel this way. Consider using the following hacks to simplify the school year and set yourself up for success:
  1. Use your Senses to your Advantage

    Do more than just color-code your subjects with this hack. Work WITH your brain by using all of your senses to make information stick.
    You could chew the same flavor of gum, wear the same fragrance, or listen to the same genre of music every time you study a certain subject. Repeating these actions during a test will help you remember the information that you’ve learned. Using these tips as well as sensory-based memory techniques can help you increase your active-recall skills. After all, the brain and body are inherently connected.
  2. Turn On Autosave in Microsoft Word

    No more losing your work when you forget to charge your laptop (Oops!). Just be sure that you enable autosave in Microsoft Word. Toggle the autosave button under your preferences as shown in this video and never re-write an essay.
  3. Invest in a Reusable Notebook

    Carrying a heavy backpack all day can result in shoulder and back pain. Lighten the load by using a reusable notebook instead of carrying a separate notebook for each subject. I recommend the Rocketbook, which comes in different models. You can use the RocketBook app or QR reader to digitally send your notes to more than 10 cloud applications, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Slack, and more. Later you can erase your notes by using a wet rag!
  4. Schedule your Studying

    It can be easy to let time get away from you. Before you know it, “I’ll study when I have time” will turn into never studying at all. Avoid this by finding specific times throughout your day and dedicating them to studying. Better yet, decide what topics you will study during those time blocks ahead of schedule. Whether it’s a few hours or just fifteen minutes, planning ahead can boost your productivity. You could consider using an app to plan your study sessions or a physical planner, if it’s more your style.
  5. Stop Your Laptop from Overheating

    Make sure your laptop stays cool by repurposing an old egg carton, or drink holder. Placing your laptop on top of one will help increase airflow and cool your laptop down if it starts to overheat.
  6. Use Incentives to Motivate Yourself

    When the going gets rough you get going - even if that includes the assistance of candy, new clothes or a video game. Using the things you enjoy as motivation to study can be an effective technique! You could set an amount of time you have to study for, GPA you need to achieve, or a grade you need to get on a test to reward yourself with something you enjoy. The possibilities are endless, so don’t hesitate to think outside of the box - your grades will thank you.
  7. Consider Using a Sunrise Alarm Clock

    Virtually nobody likes waking up before 7 A.M. - but back to school season means a lot of early mornings. You can make waking up a little bit easier by using a sunrise alarm clock to gradually pull you out of slumber. They are created to mimic sunlight that would wake you up naturally and can make the first hour of your day feel a lot less jarring. Let’s be real - nobody is going to miss that blaring alarm clock.
  8. Use a Citation Generator

    Make writing essays quicker and simpler by using a citation generator. There are several websites to choose from that will automatically generate citations for you in either APA or MLA format. A simple copy and paste will create your citation page for you. Make sure to stay one step ahead and create your citations using a generator while you’re doing your research. No more trying to create your page after you’ve written your essay.
  9. Check Out Productivity Websites

    Keep yourself on track by choosing some fun productivity sites to help you study. Whether you want a specialized study timer like this Pomodoro timer, an ambiance-based experience like I Miss My Cafe, or a website where you can study in fictional locations or with celebrities, using a study site could help you stay on track and make study time a little more enjoyable.
  10. Enjoy your High School Years

    Okay, maybe this one isn’t a hack - but it’s just as important as any of the others. You only have four years to enjoy high school, so make sure to take time to socialize, do the things you like, and sleep plenty. Spending too much time focused on academics will only lead to burnout. Check out the clubs and extracurriculars offered at your school, especially if you’re new. Do your best to get involved outside of your classes and find ways to connect with the rest of the student body. These activities aren’t just important for your college applications - they’re important for your mental health as well.

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