Student Stories: A Crash Course on Getting Through High School

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Katy Payne she/her

Editor’s Note: OSPI aims to elevate the authentic experiences of the students in Washington’s K–12 public schools. This story was written by a Washington state high school student participating in OSPI’s Student Stories Program. The author’s opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints do not necessarily reflect those of OSPI, and publication of this story does not constitute OSPI’s approval or endorsement of its contents. With questions, please contact OSPI’s Communications team at

Assignments, graduation requirements, burnout, and high expectations can make high school challenging. But I’ve found it helpful to focus on some key things that I like to abbreviate as SCCONS (pronounced like “scones”):

  • Scheduling
  • Consistency
  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Note-taking
  • Studying


Let’s start with the first S, which is Scheduling. Developing a personal schedule will be the best present you could give yourself. Putting my time into slots and colors and adding my own things makes me feel like my own boss. It’s possible to dominate my day-to-day life with a schedule!


Next on the list is the first C. Of course it’s easy and fun to make a schedule for the first week before you start to get bored and drop it. Sometimes that can happen with assignments, and that’s okay. But I know that if I want a good grade at the end of the semester, that takes consistency. To get there, I stick with the scheduling every day, and strictly maintain it as much as I can. It’s easier said than done, but the results don’t lie!


Communication is a great way that helped me get the grades I want. Making time to talk with my teachers and setting a personal plan with them helps me realize the things I might have missed on the study guide or something the teacher might have mentioned that I hadn’t caught. It also helps to communicate with my teacher instead of staying silent about a grade I don’t like. Nobody has the power to change my grades except me, which means I have to take responsibility.

This all goes with frequently checking assignments. There might be a random assignment I didn’t know existed due at 11:59, and it’s 11:30.


This is my least favorite one because anything involving putting things in order makes me want to dig myself into a hole. Unfortunately, color coding and labeling are what I need to do if I don’t want to look for my Chemistry assignment at midnight because it wasn’t in my notebook for whatever reason. Identifying what page I should open to and the assignment on the page is the standard. Be it highlighting, sticky notes, color coding, etc., staying organized and knowing where everything is means I can kiss goodbye to those late-night backpack travels and have peace of mind!


Note-taking and studying are relatively similar but different enough to be put into different categories and here’s why. It’s necessary to know what to take notes on. Whenever I hear the words “this could be on the test,” I write it down. Any formulas or definitions or theorems or terms, always write them down. This way I get a breather and enter my tests confident in myself.


Last but most certainly not least, studying. Deciding to have a dedicated study day for reviewing my notes or even doing an assignment weeks earlier elevates my schedule and gives me so much free time to do the things I normally did when procrastinating (minus the academic anxiety of feeling like I’m constantly behind on something).

SSCONS is like a puzzle, and each piece completes each other. So having a few is okay but having them all creates more chances of success in my academic career.

About the Author

Amira Saadi (she/her) is a sophomore in high school in the Edmonds School District, and participates in DECA and the Technology Student Association. Born and raised in Washington state, she is a passionate and energetic artist who appreciates observing and creating. She is also interested in debate and philosophy, and enjoys sketching and writing short novels in her free time.