How to Salvage Your Semester

Are you not where you’d like to be in your semester? Did you recently realize your grades need a rescue?

Rescue missions teach us that good plans enable us to overcome great odds. If you’re looking at your current grades wondering how you’ll reach your goal, have no fear. By following these super-legit, totally-what-all-the-heroes-use Four Fantastical Phases for Rescue Operations, you’ll be able to save your semester in no time.

Phase 1: Reconnaissance

Real life rescuer Harriet Tubman successfully brought 70 friends and family members to safety from slavery. Her extraordinary bravery was matched by her intellect.

Tubman understood the Underground Railroad, which required reading subtle clues in the environment to identify safety hidden in plain sight. Her rescue missions demonstrate that having a solid understanding of your terrain is the first step toward saving your semester.

Take time to reflect on your semester. What study strategies paid off with grades you were proud of? What steps did not serve you in reaching your goals? What do you hope to accomplish during the remaining months? Assess how you’ve previously been reaching your goals and identify resources that may help.

  • Check in with your teacher for a list of any missing assignments and determine your options on how to make them up.
  • Identify upcoming tests or projects to determine areas in the class you want to grow in. If you have been struggling with unit tests and know that there are four more remaining in the course, maybe your priority should be adopting better test-taking strategies.
  • Create a list of the study tools you use. Create another list of the study tools you have access to but haven’t used yet.

Phase 2: Feasibility Test

The second phase is performing a feasibility test. Can you actually get done what you’d like to do? The S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting strategy emphasizes that goals need to be specific enough to be measurable. Goals must also be achievable and work best when they are relevant and time-bound. A feasibility test checks the achievability of your goals.

If you want a specific grade, is it mathematically possible? Use a grade calculator to calculate your possible final grade range.

First, you need to know how your teacher is categorizing assignments and what percent each category factors into your final grade (or its “weight”).

If you have a solid understanding of what your current grade is, you can calculate what grades you will need to earn to reach your desired final grade. You will also be able to fill in what grades you expect to get for the remaining assignments to determine what the final grade may be.

A specific grade is not the only thing to work towards. Do you love English class and want to develop your writing skills? Do you want to study engineering, so mastering new concepts in math class is most important? 

Goals are also about how you do your work. Do you want to study more often? Feasibility would look at how many free hours you have to dedicate to studying more.

After completing phase two, you’re ready to map your route.

Phase 3: Mapping the Route

When 18 people were stranded on a floating ice sheet in Lake Erie in February 2022, the Coast Guard relied on satellite imaging as well as other radars to map the rescue operation. Phase three is all about making your plan. Now that you know where you are, and what you can accomplish, identify the tools that will help you meet your mission.

Meeting with a tutor can be a great step in your rescue operation. NHS tutoring is available at the library during the 2022-2023 school year to provide homework help. Come with a specific assignment and receive 30 minutes of free tutoring from National Honor Society students from P-CEP on certain days and times.

For a virtual option, HelpNow by Brainfuse is a service that you can access using your Canton Public Library card. Between 2:00-11:00 PM, you can chat online with tutors.

Another study strategy to master is consulting extra study aids. Khan Academy offers online topic-specific modules in subjects like math, science, economics, computer, arts, life skills and test prep. HelpNow also has a “Skill Surfer” section which has videos and lessons on specific topics in writing, mathematics, science, social studies and AP Exam Prep. Videos by CrashCourse on YouTube can be a great place to refresh your understanding of a specific idea.  

Phase 4: Move in and Move On  

Once you’ve mapped your route and taken the steps to meet your goals, the final phase of your rescue mission is to move on. Celebrate that you have just taken on a challenge and fought valiantly to meet it. Rescuing is stressful, and you will need to decompress after your high-stakes mission. Find the time to salute yourself and relax.

  • Get moving. As lawyer-extraordinaire Elle Woods says, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Exercising and moving your body in the ways you like will help you reset after high stress.
  • Get outside. Enjoy a walk around your neighborhood or meet a friend at the park for some outdoor time.
  • Sleep well. Get your full eight to 10 hours of sleep. For an extra challenge, leave the phone and laptop outside the bedroom, and you’ll discover the deepest slumber of your life, much like a hibernating bear.

Congrats—you just rescued your semester like a superstar!