For the majority of my academic career failure was not something to which I was accustomed. I had never really struggled in any particular subject and I was able to succeed with relatively little effort. This changed my freshman year of high school. I had always taken classes for the academically “gifted” and thought myself to be quite capable; however, I found myself on the verge of failing multiple classes. I assumed this was something every high school student experienced until I received my class rank halfway through the year and I realized how far I was from the academic standing I had known. This wakeup call is what drove me to make a change in how I approached my education. I started by analyzing my schedule. I had been trying to balance multiple honors and AP classes, band, work, Boy Scouts, and socializing. Between attempting to juggle these activities and get enough sleep, I realized I was in way over my head. I needed to reorganize my priorities. The problem was that there were just so many things I wanted to do, but I was not dedicating enough time to the things that needed the most work. With this in mind I established a plan to not do anything else until everything school related was completed. However, once I put my plan into action, it was not long until I realized that I just could not completely give up my social life.
So, I suggested to my friends that instead of just hanging out, we could use the time to study as a group instead. We discovered that each of us had different strengths and that the material being studied could be understood more completely as we explained it to each other. I also learned that I needed to break down academic tasks into more manageable pieces. I did not have to attack the whole problem all at once. I set daily checkpoints on long term assignments and class reading requirements. By reaching these intermediate goals, the challenges that I previously thought insurmountable were actually quite achievable. This mindset helped me regain my confidence and live more positively. This in turn helped me to focus, improve my grades, and gain a greater level of understanding. What I gained from this experience was also applicable to the rest of my life. I learned to set priorities, develop my work ethic, drive towards academic and personal goals, and value the importance of working together on a team.