Straight-A Seniors Share Their Secrets to Success


Cooper Aitken

Students work hard on various school assignments during some free time in their class period. Like many learn throughout high school, achieving and keeping good grades requires a considerable amount of time, commitment, and dedication.

Anna Ho, Staff Writer

The most unrealistic thing in the “High School Musical” movies wasn’t the student body’s spontaneous bursts into song: it was the fact that Troy Bolton got into UC Berkeley without even touching a textbook.

Every student has had teachers, college blogs, and concerned parents drill into them the importance of the grades they receive in high school, and the weight they hold for their future in collegiate education. But when someone is drowning in a world of AP classes, hours of after-school extracurriculars, wanting a social life, and just dealing with the fact that they are 15, hearing this “advice” over and over feels counterproductive.

Luckily, all of us have been through this same experience, and many have been able to navigate their way to the top amongst all this chaos. The Express has asked some of San Juan Hills’ most experienced, top-achieving seniors for their advice on how to not only stay academically afloat in high school, but ahead.

Like anything learned in class, the ability to study is a skill. Like any other skill, it takes practice to become a master at it, and each successful senior had to come up with the strategies that worked best for them.

“Find out what type of learner you are and try to adapt your study schedule to what would be best for you,” said Kaitlin Martin. “For me, it was a lot about trial and error–originally around freshman year, I would write really long notes, which I didn’t find helpful because personally, I’m more of a visual learner. Being able to draw out concepts and do charts and different things really helps me to be able to understand what I’m learning.”

“Try different strategies. It takes a long time. Taking notes is not for everyone, but flashcards could be, or connecting pictures to certain words,” said Mina Mahmoodzadeh.

Thinking of what your goal is for the class helps because you actually are willing to put the time in when you’ve already committed to what you want to achieve.”

— Fletch Rydell

Of course, there is more to obtaining a skill than just having the tools necessary to develop it. If there’s one strategy seniors can’t stress enough, it’s repetition.

“You have to care about your academics continuously. It’s a lot harder to get an A in a class if you don’t care about it until the last week of school,” said Fletch Rydell.

“Keep studying for the time that you’re at school, don’t just cram everything for one day. Make it continuous. That will also make you take significantly less time studying,” said Will Thrall.

Devoting yourself to a class is not an easy feat, however, especially when students are faced with classes unrelated to their interests.

“Thinking of what your goal is for the class helps because you actually are willing to put the time in when you’ve already committed to what you want to achieve,” said Rydell. “For APUSH, I was not very good at that, since it was online. Sometimes I would just skip doing all of the reading and kind of just hope I did okay anyway. I then realized that I needed to focus on the fact that I wanted to do well on the AP test. Once I kind of focused on that it made it easier to commit time to it.”

While personal drive and habits are certainly a large factor in academic success, students often fail to realize that they are not alone in wanting to see themselves succeed.

“One of the things that helped me the most was probably talking to my teacher, writing conferences and stuff. The teachers really are there–they want you to succeed,” said Thrall.

“Reach out. If you’re not good at studying now, always just reach out to either your friends, peers, people who are older than you, teachers. There will be people to help you and get over that obstacle,” said Mahmoodzadeh.

There are countless resources at SJHHS for students to utilize on their path toward academic success. With AP tests right around the corner, there is no better time to begin turning toward them.

“Good luck,” said Martin.