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Guest post: From a Student’s Point of View

Today’s post is not mine.

Well, this is kind of a guest post for another blog. I’ve written about tactics and stuff about how to get a better mark, but this is a bit different, a bit more personal.

Well… um, hi. My name’s Josh. I’m an 18yr old Aussie, working on a blog called Mathematical Mischief.

But my little piece isn’t about that at all, today. Today, I’m writing about high school.

That’s always fun, saying those words… it’s been a full year and a half since I’ve had class at a school. I’m at university now, which is really different. For a variety of reasons, I mean, there’s all sorts of amazing people in unis, and in schools, and the learning is crazy different.

Now, when I was in high school, I can say safely that I had an awful lot of bad habits. Which is not cool. It’s an awful feeling, when you know you can do something, but you’ve completely stuffed it up, because you’ve done the complete opposite thing you should’ve done.

So, today, I’m writing about the five things I wish I’d done better in school. I’ve ranked them from what was more important for me, but these’ll be different for every person. I am hoping that these will be useful for someone, and that you’ll take something out of my mistakes.

Let’s start, shall we?

5. Get enough sleep!

I can say this honestly, I’m terrible at getting any sleep the night before most tests. Sometimes, I’ll be really chilled and like ‘Yeah, I can do this.’, but most days, I’m like this:


Sleeping at the desk - (Photo credit: giuseppesavo)

Now, sleeping at your desk is a terrible idea. I’m 6’5″, so it’s both painful and cramped, when I wake up with my wallet squashed into my face. I’m grateful I’ve learnt my lesson from this.

Solution? – Well, you can do a few things. You can set yourself a study cut-off time, and stop studying. Alternatively, you can go to bed before you crash. Trust me, it saves your back a whole lot of pain in the future.

4. Organise your junk!

I have learnt, numerous times now, that throwing out homework, while it’s still relevant, is the dumbest idea you could possibly think of. What’s the point of throwing out work, when you can revise with it?

So, now I have a system. I divide my work up into two piles – Useful, and Out Of The Box. All my crazy hard questions go into the Out Of The Box pile, and the rest goes into the Useful pile.

It might get crazy, and you might like to chop out any stuff that you’re confident will be remembered, but filing my stuff has been so much of a benefit to me, that it’s not funny. I can use the questions as references, when I receive assignments, or tests, and I can apply that knowledge to my future work.

3. Relationships are distracting!

Right, I can summarise this in one sentence.

In the space of six weeks, while I was dating my girlfriend, I saw her half the time, did my homework none of the time, and my school marks fell through the floor.

Do yourself a favour – Realise that not all relationships last forever. If you want to get into university, or vocational training, you need to be able to apply yourself fully at school. Otherwise, you do lose valuable marks, and a competitive edge on other students.

Now, I’m not saying ditch your partner. But do yourself a favour, and without seeming harsh: step back and take a look at the big picture for a bit. Your relationship might fall apart, but your schooling is so much more important.

If your partner really cares, they’ll understand this.

2. Big money does not mean big score (or intact morals).

First of all – bribing, extortion, theft, and cheating are all terrible things to do. Unfortunately, there are people desperate enough to resort to cheating, or to get someone else to do their homework for them.

The sad world we live in, mean the rich get what they want, and the poor have to work hard to get the most meagre of things. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.

The plus side? You can achieve your goals, with persistence and hard work. You don’t need an inheritance to get a good job, you just need to work hard, and show you mean business. Unfortunately, I feel victim to that stigma (I thought money meant success, and I was wrong).

If you don’t have much money, there are often tutoring services available for free (or lots of examples) online. Khan Academy is interesting to check out, and there’s also Math Help Forum and my own blog, just to name a few.

The benefit to this is that while they may not be 100%, you will save 100% of the cash you were going to spend, or didn’t have.

1. Ask for help!

I can say, when I was in high school, I was an ok student. Terrible, with my attitude, however. My poor teacher comes into the classroom one day, goes ballistic at the class, because none of them did their homework. He still went over the course material, though, and asked if students wanted help with the work.

You can never have enough assistance in school. If you’re stuck, make sure you ask for help. Sometimes, there are a lot of difficulties from the core idea of a teacher-student relationship, so it’s good to seek help and advice from a wide range of people.

Ideas like this include using search engines to find explanations of similar questions, emailing teachers constantly for advice, seeking help outside the box.

Teachers aren’t here to judge you, they’re here to make sure you succeed. Make sure you take advantage of that, suck up your pride, and ask the questions that need to be asked. Teachers love questions, and they’re there to help.

So, they’re the five things I’d wish I’d learnt in high school. I’m fortunate to have only ever really seen others affected by 3 (because I have some rich friends (sucks)), but everything else applied to me pretty well.

I hope that I’ve helped someone take something from this – and I hope to see you again another time. 🙂

All the best,


Mathematical Mischief