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What Makes a Good Student?

Sophomore Marielle Frooman juggles extracurriculars, academics and social life. Photo: Meghna Singha

It’s a brand new school year, a blank slate with space to write the story of the next year of your life. For many students, that means a chance to grow and become a better student. But what does that really mean – to be a good student?

There are many different opinions about what makes a student successful, but the one thing everyone can agree on is that it’s pretty tough to balance academics, extracurriculars and a social life, and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. All are important, so it’s helpful to cultivate the right mindset and the ability to prioritize.

Whether it be theatre or a sport, extracurriculars create a bond between people that the 8-3 school day could never accomplish. They teach teamwork and leadership, but most importantly, they teach you when to take a seat on the bench. You will try something that you totally, utterly suck at, but the important thing is you tried.

To Associate Director of MS/US Admissions Mac McCallum, the most valuable quality in a student is the “craving to stay past 3.” Have the courage and curiosity to put forth an effort to get involved and sample enough activities that you can find a passion to pursue.

When it gets to be too much (and it will), prioritize what you find joy in. Look for what lights up your face, and follow that path to see where it leads. “Create an intersection between activities that interest you,” said Associate Director of College Counseling Pam Ambler. “It’s rarely about what you do, but why you do it.”

To many adults in the Pace community, sincerity and integrity make a student stand out. In the words of English teacher Don DuPree, a “good student” has “intellectual curiosity” and the desire to learn rather than memorize. Have the mindset to structure your day with intentionality.

Senior Klara Andra-Thomas advises planning ahead. Create habits early on that will make future stress a little bit easier. Class of 2020 Dean Grady Stevens suggests setting timelines and maybe not checking that recent Snapchat. 

You hear it all the time: “It’s not the grade that matters.” “You are more than just a number.” But let’s face it: grades matter to Pace Academy students. Don’t deny it. You probably compare yourself to your peers and constantly question if your recent grade will define your future. In a way, the grade can be important. It shows what you don’t know and need to work on.

Go into tests with an open mind, telling yourself that no matter the result, you still learned something. “Don’t use an outcome-oriented logic to find value in your life,” said Mr. Stevens. “Find value by defining what you care about and then having an answer to where you are in your depth of character.”

What being a good student all boils down to is being authentic to yourself and your values. “It’s silly to only find value in school,” said Mr. Stevens. Don’t get bogged down over temporary problems and overused misconceptions.

Mrs. Ambler advises to “focus on balance.” Start with what you care about and the rest will fall into place. Prioritize being a good person and leading a wholesome life, and being a good student will seem to matter less.

 


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