19 Sep The Game Plan: What Every Parent and Student Should Do in the First Month of School
RING RING RING! School is officially back in session. That means school zone lights are back to flashing… and students are back to dashing down the halls to avoid the tardy bell.
Success starts with a strong foundation. At 4.0 GPA, LLC, we’ve found that students can set themselves up for greatness early by getting their parents involved and employing the following strategies in the first month of classes.
- Parents should obtain a copy of their child’s syllabi or class schedules, especially if they indicate due dates for major assignments and test dates.
- Log all of your child’s test and major assignment dates in your mobile phone calendar.
- Encourage your child to do the same, and to set a “reminder date” a week ahead of due dates with a note to “start studying.”
- Mobile apps like iCal and Google Calendar are especially handy for this.
Getting your child to make a habit out of this early on will teach them the art of time management. You’ll want to be especially care to not schedule any major family trips near the same time as test dates.
- Parents should be proactive in finding solutions for their child’s struggles ahead of time. Did your child fail math last year, for example, or make a low grade in English? If so, arrange a meeting with the teacher who teaches the subject your child has a hard time with, on the first week of school, and make the teacher aware early that your child may need help. Furthermore, if you have the resources to do so, consider getting your child enrolled in tutorials for tough subjects. 4.0 GPA, LLC, are firm believers that problem solving early on, is crucial.
- Parents should reach out to each of their child’s teacher, either by calling or emailing them, and introduce themselves. In these conversations, ask each teacher what your child should do in order to be successful in their class.
- Students should meet with their guidance counselor their first month back and inquire about the clubs and organizations available on campus. 4.0 GPA, LLC., has found a few organizations that especially stand out on a student’s resume or college application:
A. Future Business Leaders of America (http://www.fbla-pbl.org/fbla/competitive-events) – FBLA conducts competitive, business-related events that allow students to find their niche. Organizations allow students to explore and figure out what they like vs. what they aren’t interested in. Your child might well be the next C++ guru!
Back when I was a student at Alief Kerr High School, I joined FBLA and was given the opportunity not only to make friends, but to travel to places like El Paso. We had an awesome advisor, Doris Curry, who kept me involved; and I was also able to earn a letterman jacket that way (without having to play sports!). If your child joins FBLA early in the school year and is an active participant, they might be interested in going for a leadership position in the organization. Leadership positions look good on a resume; furthermore, if a student’s grades are good over the course of their time with the organization, they might earn a FBLA honor cord for graduation.
B. Student Council – Student Council enables students to participate in government-modeled activities both on campus and off. Student council not only allows students to interact with their fellow classmates, but they also provide many volunteer opportunities. I distinctly remember joining Student Council in high school because our advisor, Mrs. Moseley, recommended it to me. The other benefit of joining Student Council? Students can build a strong enough relationship with their faculty advisor, to where they might be a good go-to for letters of recommendation.
C. Speech & Debate Team – I personally recommend joining the Speech & Debate Team. I started out in high school as an extremely shy person, and I wasn’t very good at public speaking. My participation in Speech & Debate – and the help I got from my awesome Debate Coaches Han Chee and Derek Davis – helped me overcome my fears about public speaking. Look how far I’ve come: These days, schools invite me for speaking engagements and commencement addresses.
Of course, these are far from the only clubs at school. Parents should encourage their child to find and join at least one that aligns with the interests they are most passionate about.
- Students should ask their guidance counselor about tips for making the honor roll. This is good advice for students in any grade, whether they are in first grade or a high school senior.
- Parents of high school students might also want to reach out to their child’s academic counselor to find out what the requirements are to graduate with honors. Graduating with honors will help your child stand out when they begin applying for scholarships, internships and, most importantly, to go to college.
- Encourage your child to make five major goals for the school year. Place a copy of these goals in places they can see it every day – in their school binder, for example, and in their bedroom and restroom.
4.0 GPA, LLC, believes it is very important to teach your child about setting goals from an early age. Furthermore, this activity could motivate your child and give them a purpose when it comes to going to school.
Consider giving your child incentives for achieving their goals, so they learn that their hard work can be rewarded. For example, you might tell your child you’ll take them to a Houston Rockets game (so they can see James Harden!) if they have less than 3 tardies in a given semester. Other, more cost-effective rewards might include allowing your child to stay up an extra 30 minutes past their bedtime for making the honor roll.
- Parents should sign up for the following two things:
- If you’re eligible, sign your child up for free lunch. Students in the free lunch program often end up being eligible for waivers for their ACT and SAT exams, and might be able to get some of their college application fees waived.
- Obtain a password and username to view your child’s grades and attendance from your phone. This will prevent you from having any surprises when progress reports and final report cards come up. Save your username and passwords in your phone. (This must be a particular program that parents can download. It does seem kind of invasive, but I get it. Specify the program, because I’m not so sure just having a “password and username” will give parents instant access to grades and report cards, unless it’s all online now)
And lastly, our MAJOR KEY ALERT:
- Parents should ask their child’s guidance counselor for a copy of their unofficial transcript at the start of the school year. This applies mainly to parents with students in the 10th through 12th grades.
Make a note of what your child’s GPA is, as well as their class ranking and what “percentile” their ranking puts them in (for example, students who graduate in the “top 10 percent” of their high school class are eligible for automatic admission into many Texas universities). We recommend asking your child what colleges they are interested early on. That way, you can track if they are on pace to get accepted to the school they most want to attend.
At 4.0 GPA, LLC, we pride ourselves on giving students proper college and career readiness tips. We encourage you to share this information with your friends and family. Further, if there are other topics or questions that you’d like 4.0 GPA to discuss in future blogs, feel free to email us at email@example.com.
Lastly, GOOD LUCK to you and your child this upcoming school year! So long as you keep your goals in front of you and stay prepared and focused, success will be yours for the taking.