How to Finish Your Last Semester Strong by Anthony ONeal

How’s your health? I hope you’re staying strong and getting plenty of rest and exercise.

With spring upon us, you’ve already survived the flu season. But there’s another serious virus going around that I want to help you avoid at all costs: senioritis!

That’s right, I’m talking about that temptation felt by every high school senior this time of year. The desire to just take your hands off the steering wheel and coast to graduation without paying any attention during your last semester.

Now, I know a lot of y’all are feeling that way right now—I felt that way myself when I was a senior. But I’m here to tell you there are some bad consequences that come from quitting before you’ve finished the job.

I’ve known students who had put in all the necessary work to pass every class for three and a half years and then end up failing. All because they got distracted by something that seemed more fun and took their eyes off the prize.

I don’t want that to happen to you—and whether you realize it or not, you don’t want to see it happen either. I want you to finish your last semester strong! You’ve worked way too hard for way too long to see it all go up in smoke near the finish line. Here are a few tips I’ve shared with seniors across America to help them stay focused and motivated at the end of high school.

Be Aggressive

I know your instinct right now is to let up a little bit, because it feels like you’ve climbed a mountain. Now you’re in the mood to relax and enjoy the end of the journey.

But that’s not the way to finish strong. In fact, it’s a good way to regress and fall all the way down that same mountain you thought you’d finished climbing. The truth is you have not graduated yet. And getting really close doesn’t count—not to colleges and not to employers. You need that diploma. So be aggressive about getting it.

If that sounds simple, it is. But remember, I’ve met more than my share of students who thought they had graduation in the bag—until they let up and missed out. Don’t assume it will all take care of itself. Keep an eye on your grades and be sure you’re on track to pass. If one or two classes seem to be jeopardizing your graduation prospects, don’t wait. Go and talk with your teachers now. If necessary, find out about working for extra credit or pursuing a different strategy to be better prepared for remaining assignments and exams.

Make Priorities

If you’ve made it into the second semester of your senior year, making priorities is something you’ve already been doing for a while now. Congratulations!

Now apply all you already know about priorities to the fundamental task of finishing strong. Here’s the way I approach priorities in my own life, a little idea I took from author and business leader Dr. Stephen Covey. He divides all of a day’s time into four quadrants, and all of your activities can be grouped in one of the quadrants:

  1. Important and urgent
  2. Important but not urgent
  3. Not important but urgent
  4. Not important and not urgent

Now as a high school senior trying to graduate, the activities that fall in the first group are usually your main focus from day to day. They’re things like completing all of your assignments on time and passing all of your classes. These are obviously your main priorities, so give these the majority of your time and attention from here on out.

The fourth quadrant items are not going to take up any of your energy this semester, because you’ve already identified that they don’t matter that much and there’s no immediate need to do them. Things like watching TV or spending too much time on social media (instead of working on schoolwork) are activities that could pose a real danger to your prospects of graduating. Leave these out of your daily schedule as much as possible.

Categories two and three can be a little more ambiguous. Let’s talk about group three first, the “not important but urgent” tasks. An example of this would be hearing your phone alert you of a text message while you’re busy studying. The notification beep makes the text seem urgent—but when you go to check it, it’s just a meme from a friend! That wasn’t important, but it came across as urgent. And you allowed it to distract you from studying. Watch out for these!

Category two, the “important but not urgent” tasks, can be even trickier. These are things that might not have an immediate influence on your goal of graduating but would definitely have bad consequences if you neglected them for too long. This includes things like exercise, setting long-term goals, and building up friendships and relationships. Items in this group are definitely worthy of your attention and care, and you should make room for them in your busy schedule. At the same time, graduation is currently your absolute top priority. So when necessary, be ready to make a temporary cutback on workout sessions or even time with friends to be absolutely sure you’re finishing your last semester strong.

What’s Next?

As you’re winding up your senior year, you should definitely be thinking about what’s next for you beyond graduation. And I’m not just talking about next fall for those of you who are heading to college. I’m thinking even sooner—about how you’re going to stay busy and productive this summer while getting ready for school or long-term employment!

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Anthony-Oneal-the-teen-mentorAbout the Author: Anthony ONEAL is one of Your Monthly Mentors. Since 2003, Anthony has helped thousands of students make good decisions with their money, relationships and education to live a well-balanced life. Now Anthony has joined Ramsey Solutions to spread this encouraging message to students nationwide as a Ramsey Personality. His youth conferences, concerts and events have drawn enormous crowds, and he’s spoken for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Bishop T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest Youth Ministry, television personality, Judge Glenda Hatchett and Rory Jones. Anthony has also appeared on Fox and Friends, CNN and TBN. Read more and check out Anthony’s other articles…

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