August's end is always the same. It is almost the polar opposite to July. In July you’ve done it, you survived another school year, you've earned a summer holiday. They gave you everything they had, tonnes of homework, class tests every week and coursework that seems to go on forever. Like a Hydra, you take care of one and two grow back, yet come July you’ve made it. 

Cut to the last week of August. Summer was amazing but you can feel the influence of school over your life again.

Maybe you went on holiday, maybe you didn’t.

Maybe you got a job or maybe you were out with friends as often as you could. Somehow even when you know you don’t want to go back, you want to go back.

Maybe you miss the routine or the banter between friends.

Whoever you are, school finds a way of working itself back into your life at the end of summer: Always.

The first day always seems to be the same as well doesn’t it? “New year, new me” you tell yourself as your alarm goes off earlier than it has in months. “I’m going to wake up this early and be fully prepared everyday” you lie as you walk downstairs and out the door knowing full well there is no way you will ever maintain the routine past today.

'This year is the big year son, get the head down son, work hard son,' said every mammy ever.

Every year is the big year. We arrive in school expecting everything to be different because you’re a new and improved version of ourselves, yet you’re greeted with an eerie familiarity, everything seems to click in its familiar place.

It is soon as if the summer months hadn't actually happened. Nothing has changed. You get the usual assembly from some teacher telling you to get the head down, it will all be worth it. Do we really listen?

Everyone tells you that this is your opportunity to succeed but much like your five year old sibling calling strategy in Call of Duty, they tell you what to do, not how to do it.

Now I’m going to tell you what to do, but because I’m a nice guy I’ll tell you how to do it also.

You're welcome.

  1. Change your thinking about everything

Everyone is scared of school. Yes even those kids who get 16 A*s. it is true, even if you think there is no way for them to scared, some days everyone is.

In our minds we often hyperbolise our situations to seem worse than they actually are. We compare ourselves to our peers. Any situation you find yourself in, can become “literally the worst thing that has ever existed ever.” It is time to challenge yourself. It is time to stop and think. Time to concentrate and accentuate your positive attributes.

I’ll give you an example.


Say you got a B in a test and everyone else got an A*. Now you’re sitting there comparing yourself to everyone else thinking your B is pitiful and you’ll never go anywhere in life because you’re a failure. When in actual fact it is one class test. Perhaps you know yourself you could have done better. If so concentrate on the positive changes you will make rather than the mistakes you made.

Or perhaps it is RE and who cares about RE, its RE.

My point is, negative thinking patterns are damaging, if you consistently detect them get yourself out of them, then you’re golden.

  1. Organise yourself and see the difference.

Try this for one week and you will notice a difference.

It’s unbelievably easy to be stupidly unorganised in school. At the end of the day the books are fired into the locker, take whatever you might have for homework home. When you get in the door the uniform magically ends up on the floor somehow even when you intended hanging it up. You sit on your phone for the rest of the night, ignoring school.

 I challenge you to put genuine effort into one week of organising yourself and observe the results. Get up early everyday and have a proper breakfast. Organise your books before you get to school. Be in school for 5 to 9 instead of 5 past. Do what you can to make your day more organised. Perhaps the difference will be miniscule. Perhaps the detention you got last week for being late to classes has now turned into a good comment regarding punctuality. It won’t be hard to see the difference in yourself and your work.

Try it.

  1. Go outside

Outside is good for you. I’ll say no more. I shouldn’t have to. Regular exercise of any form, be it a casual walk or pumping iron at the gym, releases endorphins. Endorphins are good. They lead to a more positive outlook in life.

This is scientific fact. 

  1. Do things, things which are good.

It doesn’t take a PhD student working on their medical journal thesis in the New England to tell you that exercise make you feel good about yourself. However it doesn’t need to be exercise to do the job. Simply do something you dedicate time to which isn’t school. Volunteer, join a sports club, collect stamps with colour schemes matching Mick Jaggers wardrobe, the activity itself matters not to me but to you.

Do something you love, for you.

  1. Avoid procrastinating and apply yourself to your work

The saying does not go if you’re going to be a bear, be a cub.

If you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly.

There is no point in doing something if you’re going to half ass it. Aim to excel in everything you do. I’m not saying failing is bad, if anything failing teaches. So long as we analyse why and pinpoint weaknesses in order to improve performance in future. What you get out of any task if directly proportional to the effort you put in. Procrastination is pointless. It is essential that you remember that every time you do.

It won’t take long to realise how much free time you actually have when your revision and coursework are under control. To get anything under control we must first organise and avoid procrastination. As much fun as dabbing is, it doesn’t help finish a report on chapter 3! It’s not that high quality work takes a long time; it’s that high quality work takes short breaks and self belief.

 These are five tips that you probably won’t follow but hey you made it this far. Thanks. I’m not a school professional by any means and the information I have provided you with certainly won’t allow you to survive school by any means. However I hope it does make a difference for you as it has for me.

Written by Caleb Griffin