You’ve got something better than a backpack.

A new backpack is not going to decide your academic success.

Duh. Right? You already know this but I feel the need to say it. A new backpack will not improve your social life. It will not improve your grades. It will hold stuff for you. That’s it.

Back to school can be a time when you ensure your academic and social success. This can be the year you get better grades than ever. You can make more friends than you ever dreamed of. And once you learn a few things, it’s not all that hard. I’ll get to that later though.

The Marketers Don’t Want You To Know This

Marketers don’t want you to know the truth.

They’ll inundate you with videos of students acting like gucci models walking down the halls while all the other fashion conscious cyborgs watch with big smiles and envy. WOW! You can feel like that! It sounds a bit silly when I say it like that, right?

This is just classic marketing. They’re trying to sell you a fantasy. We all know it’s a fantasy but somewhere in our guts it sticks around and makes us think, “if I could get 5% of that then I’d be ecstatic.” It drags our focus into this false reality.

Sure… there are ways fashion can help for back to school but it gets complicated. You’d need the shirts. You’d need the pants. But then you’d need the belt and the accessories. And then you’d feel silly if you forget to get a few new pairs of shoes to match them. Then you’d need the backpack. You’d need this or that and then more and more. This doesn’t end.

The only way to satisfy your urge for more stuff is to stop trying to satiate it.

The dream is real (even if the advertisements exaggerate it a little.) You can be the kind of person that other students envy. But before we get to that…

Notice the big thing that all these back to school fantasy ads forget to focus on?

You know… the thing you’re supposed to be going to school for. 😀

Don’t Lose Sight Of Learning

This is what the people selling you stuff want you to think about.

School is supposed to help you learn.

It’s not flashy.

You probably won’t get to the walk down the halls while all the other students stare in envy of your fine academic performance. Fortunately, the academic feeling is even better than that.

Have you ever left a test knowing that you aced it?

Your whole body can feel it. Your chin will lift up. You’ll stand up a little straighter. Your friends will ask, “what did you get?” You’ll feel fantastic telling them all about it. You might bring up the subject yourself. Tell it to your crush and she might ask if you’ll be a tutor.

Then the next test, you might just feel the same confidence going in.

You can’t buy anything that will give you that feeling. Be as fashionable as you like but don’t expect it to be the reason you feel fantastic. When you feel fantastic, it’s going to be a result of the actions you take in school.

You can do this!

I know this because you’re the kind of student that’s willing to research this kind of stuff. You’re in the awesome first-class of study and school success. Be proud.

Confidence doesn’t come from a store.

How To Make Back To School Awesome

1. Act Confident

Don’t worry. Everyone is nervous on the first day of school.

Confidence isn’t something you have. It’s something you do.

Confident people stand up straight. They keep their head up and smile. They talk with other people. The don’t get caught up thinking about what other people are thinking about them. (Other people are usually too busy worrying about themselves to think about you anyway.)

Be confident.

All you need to do is act it out. They are the same thing.

2. Focus On Your Strengths

You shouldn’t become a new person when the new school year starts. Don’t try because it’s just not you.

This is particularly true for introverts. Introverts are always being encouraged to act extraverted. They’re taught that introversion is some kind of a weakness. People blindly connect introversion with shyness, weirdness, and poor social skills. That’s not introversion though. Introversion is a well-studied personality trait that just enjoys interaction less. That’s okay.

If you’re an introvert, don’t try to flip your personality upside-down. I say this because I fell into that trap every year through high school. I tried to be someone that I wasn’t. It just wore me out and distracted me. It wasn’t until I embraced my introversion that I finally developed a social life I enjoyed.

Focus on changing what you do but don’t be afraid to accept certain things as who you are. You only have so much energy to worry about stuff. It’s better to pick the important actionable stuff and make those things work.

3. Read Every Syllabus Carefully

The new school year might even end up fun. 😛

This is one of the most powerful strategies for improving your grades.

Most teachers list the value of different parts of your grade. They might list that your final grade consists of:

20% Homework
30% Tests
30% Essays
10% Class Participation
10% Binder Organization

This information is the formula to academic success. If you spend a few minutes playing with these percentages and the syllabus you can usually estimate how much every single assignment you get is worth towards your final grade.

Then you can pay attention to how long each part takes you.

For example, if there are only 2 major essays during the whole semester then each of those essays are worth 15 points on your final grade. You could score perfect on everything else but if you skipped one of those essays you’d only get an 85%. In that case, you’d want to make sure you spend a ton of time perfecting those 2 essays because they’re super valuable.

Sometimes you’ll find homework to be massively undervalued. Homework might only be worth 10% of your grade but you could get an hour of it every night. In that case, you can treat every individual assignment less seriously. Skipping a couple wouldn’t even hurt your final grade.

Dig into this stuff and look for your ideal path through the class. 

So… what have we learned?

You can have good grades and a great social life develop with your new school year. You’d be amazed what you can do with a little bit of confidence.

Many marketers don’t want you to think about the very things you’d need to succeed. They want to sell you fantasy. This fantasy might even distract you from thinking about the really important things.

You’re capable of this. Your head is in the game.
Image Sources: Tim Gouw, Wikipedia, quinntheislander

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