Advice Column 18-19: Week 1 (Part II)

Hello DV students!

Thank you for submitting to the Wildcat Tribune’s Rapid Response advice column! We’ve tried our best to answer your questions. Because of the amount of questions we received and the length of our responses, Week 1 had been divided into two posts. Many of you seemed to be dealing with high school stress and workload management this week, so we tried to provide varied coping strategies that you will hopefully be able to apply in your routines.

Want to ask some anonymous questions and get advice? Our form opens every Monday and closes on Friday at 11:59 pm. Responses are always posted on Sundays on this website. Week 2’s responses will be available on Sunday, September 30.

Week 2 form:

Q: How would you study for a Mulhauser HAP test? 

A: Unfortunately, no one in the Rapid Response team or the Tribune has had Mr. Mulhauser for HAP. However, I’ll try to provide you with some general study tips that might help you in your class.

I think it’s helpful to find out what type of learner you are while you look for an appropriate studying method. Do you like to work in groups or on your own? Do you like to hear things being taught to you, or would you rather read them on a page? And do you enjoy handling physical objects when problem-solving, or do you benefit more from using visual resources? These are important to consider when you try to study for a class. If you like to work with other people, form a small study group where you can discuss terms or quiz one another. You can use flashcards (physical or online) if you’re trying to memorize terms and definitions. You can also write out definitions or say them aloud, as it might help you commit the content you’re studying to memory. If you’re more of a visual learner, you might find studying or drawing diagrams to be helpful. Some students also enjoy using colors in their study guides/materials to associate words or concepts.

In my classes, I make my own study guides with colored pens. I’ve found that I can remember things after writing them down, and that using colors on my study guides makes it easier to find important information. Because you’re making them yourself, you can ensure the information you struggle with understanding has been formatted in a way that is easy for you to review. Creating your own study guides and keeping them in a binder can also be helpful later in the year when you’re preparing for final exams. If you make one for every test, you’ll have a summary of the semester’s content that can supplement your studying. I’d also advise you to start studying as early as you can. Don’t try to cram-study the night before a test. Which, I know is much easier said than done. It’s easy to push studying to the last minute in favor of other homework, but try your best to make time for 10-20 minute study sessions for yourself in the days leading up to a test. This will not only reduce any anticipatory stress, but it will also help you in the long-term when you’ll need to recall the information you’ve learned for finals.

Good luck on your future tests!



Q: Why is Honors Pre-calculus so hard. What can I do to make it easier on my grades and should I let younger friends know about the rigor of the course?

– Spicy Boi

A: Dear Spicy Boi,

I have no idea how to answer your first question; I myself wondered that over late nights on WebAssign and cramming for unit tests that seemed to be infinitely harder than the quizzes. However, while the first part of the year is a struggle to get through, the class does eventually get easier to manage. This isn’t because the content becomes more simple but because you get in the rhythm of the class. However, there are definitely a few ways you can improve your grades.

  1. Don’t skimp out or cheat on WebAssign: Make sure to complete all you assignments on time, and once you’re finished, use the key that is provided to see how your teacher solves the questions. Most of the questions in your Homework Accs tend to be based off the questions assigned for homework, so this definitely boosts your Quiz grade. Before tests, make sure to go through all of the WebAssign assignments for your unit. This way, you remember the concepts as well as their application.
  2. Use the Precalculus textbook: At the end of each question set in the book, there are a list of challenging word or application problems. While those might not be covered in class, make sure you do the five or six that are present in each section, because similar questions show up on your test.
  3. Reconsider the time you spend studying: Make sure that your main day for studying isn’t the night before, and try to ensure your study schedule spans at least 2 or 3 days. That way, you won’t be cramming the information and you’ll be more likely to remember the concepts on the test. When preparing, create a short hand-written study guide in which you review concepts, problems, and challenge questions.
  4. Practice: The most important skill to learn when taking a test is how to manage your time efficiently. Memorize any shortcuts that you can, and ensure that you’ve practiced each type of problem enough times that you can breeze past it on the test.
  5. Find a tutor: There are plenty of options available outside of school, and there is tutoring available in school through volunteer organizations like CSF or other classes. Having the material explained to you in a different manner or by another person could also be extremely helpful. However, before you resort to those, make sure to use access periods to ask your teacher about any questions you may have.

I’m going to be honest- HPC was the hardest math class I’ve taken, but it’s not impossible. While I cannot promise that following these steps can give you an A, they certainly make you more confident and efficient at approaching the class. As for telling your younger friends – why not? Even if they do know about the rigor of the course, whether or not they choose to take it or succeed in it is beyond your control. However, with the reputation HPC has at this school, chances are someone else will let them know if you don’t.

Good luck!



Q: Sometimes I feel like I come home from school just to do more and more hours of work which essentially takes up the whole day. Is there any way to lighten the workload but still maintain A’s? 

– HelpNeeded

A: Dear HelpNeeded,

As a senior, I’ll say that I’ve found that I’ve never really been able to truly “lighten my workload” in my years at DVHS, but I will say that there are ways to manage your time and work efficiently so that your homework takes up less of your day. Try to give yourself a set amount of time for each of your assignments to keep yourself from spending too much time on one and delaying the others. Set small, 5-10 minute breaks for yourself if you need them; while this may seem like it will take up more of your time, it can sometimes be helpful if you frequently find yourself getting distracted while you work. To keep yourself focused, you can move to new places (within your home, at a library, at a coffee shop, etc.) to work and/or put your phone away while you study. Sometimes, a change in environment can be refreshing for the mind and increase your productivity. If you ever have a day where you have less homework or a little extra time on your hands, you can take a break — do something you enjoy, or get a little extra sleep. You can also use this time to start preparing for any important tests or projects that will be due later in the week. This can reduce your workload for days later in the week.

Sometimes, it really comes down to your classes. If you truly feel overwhelmed and you know you’re going to have a really rough week, you can try to ask one of your teachers if you can have an extra day or two to work on an assignment to take off a bit of the pressure. Be honest about your circumstances, be polite when asking for an extension, and don’t attempt to get extra time for every assignment.  Don’t take advantage of their generosity! Keep in mind that not all teachers are willing to give you an extended deadline, and they won’t appreciate if you spring this on them at the last minute. Approach them well before the due date and try to work out a compromise.

Good luck this year! I hope this was helpful.



Q: I’m doing all the normal things that a high schooler does like weighted classes and some extracurriculars, with volunteering. But I don’t really think I’m happy with what I’m doing. You know how people always say that there is one thing that they can do at anytime of the day even if they are tired. I don’t know what that is for me and I feel like I’m just going along with the general flow. This is probably VERY hard to answer but how do I find what I like to do or what I am meant to do? 

– Going W. Flow

A: Thanks for coming to us with your question, Going W. Flow! 

You’re totally right; this is a hard question. But that doesn’t mean it’s unanswerable! Having said that, however, I’m afraid the answer isn’t simple by a long stretch.I’d like to start off by letting you know that this is a question I grapple with myself all the time! You are not alone in feeling this way. In fact, I guarantee you that this is a dilemma everybody faces at one point or another in their lifetime.

Generally, though, people tend to find their answers later on in life, and rarely in high school. The answer is, after all, formed by your experiences! So, if you have peers who seem to have their lives all planned out and their interests already defined then that’s great for them, but to be quite frank, that conviction is probably far from as infallible as they think. People change, and so do their interests and passions. Being unsure of yourself right now is perfectly natural and may even be conducive to finding the answer later on, so don’t worry if you don’t feel like you’ve got everything planned out!

Also, I’d like to add that while people often equate what you “like” to do with what you’re “meant” to do the rest of your life, those two things are often not the same thing. Having a passionate hobby is not quite the same as having a clear “meaning” in life. For that matter, your “meaning” in life can rarely be boiled down to a single “passion” or activity at all! There’s a lot of pressure on us students these days (especially during high school) to figure out a career path, decide on a major, and find out what we want to do before we have even really been allowed to experience the things that shape our answers to such questions. This pressure tries to compress the uncontainable thing that life is into a single noun or verb and makes it seem as if you need to have pre-planned your life from the get-go. This is an unrealistic expectation that can’t be met, however, so I advise you to try and just kick it to the curb as best you can. Life makes you; not the other way around.

Having said that, though, in no means am I telling you to just stop thinking about the future or cancel your goals! Those are healthy practices. Allowing yourself to stress over the minute details of a future that hasn’t happened yet, on the other hand, is self-destructive. In essence, what I’m trying to say is that going with the flow is good. The only thing is, you want to maintain some awareness and tension so you aren’t swept away. In general, though, letting the current carry you is actually a pertinent move.

Going back to your mention of activities, it’s really no surprise that extra-curricular activities and AP classes don’t feel like they hold the key to all the answers to life, because, well . . . they don’t! These activities are meant to be avenues through which you can express the interests you have and grow them, but extracurriculars and classes don’t mean anything on their own. Enjoyment and interest is something you must cultivate yourself from doing something genuinely meaningful for you, not from doing something a lot of other people seem to do. Of course finding an interest is the difficult part, but it’s okay to be unsure at first. Everybody goes at their own pace and finds their own unique interests. Just keep exploring the opportunities around you to find something worth doing, something you enjoy. You may even have something you like to do that doesn’t lie under traditional academic activities, too, and that’s perfectly fine. The world is bigger than you think, and human expression is limitless. I assure you that you will find something you like to do, if you don’t actually have something now that you simply haven’t recognized as what it is.

As for how to find what you’re meant to do . . . Personally, I don’t think there is a clear-cut way to! Rather, isn’t that what life is for? Going with the flow sounds about right for this one. After all, like I said before, people change! To give you an idea of how often, only about a fourth of college graduates even end up with a career that directly relates to their major! Having said that, having an inkling of what you want to do is definitely important and helpful. But don’t be afraid to challenge the popular notion that you need to have your life completely set in stone before you even get to experience it. We high school students have a lot to look forward to, a lot that will hit us sideways, a lot that will change us as we continue to grow. So, instead of trying to extract those answers from your surroundings now, try to allow your current experiences to build up, settle in and shape those answers naturally.




Q: How do I gently tell my parents that I’m not interested in the major they want me to pursue? They keep forcing me towards computer science, but I don’t want them living vicariously through me. 

– Stressed out Senior

A: Dear Stressed out Senior,

While I don’t know what your family dynamic is like, I would ultimately advise emphasizing to your parents how your life and career are your own, and that pursuing computer science will not make you feel fulfilled. Designate a time to talk to your parents when you’ll have adequate time to explain your feelings. Determine what you want to get across beforehand to better articulate your thoughts when you have the conversation. First tell them about your passion for the major your intend to pursue, before introducing to them that you have decided a career in computer science is not suited to you (for reasons related to personality, interest, abilities, etc.). Try not to direct blame at them, or highlight that they are the ones that have been pushing you towards computer science, as this could make them defensive and less receptive to your ideas. Instead, address the major as a whole and explain your reasons for disagreeing with the direction they have tried to establish for you. Usually, parents have your best interests in mind, but they might be defining what they think will make you happy in a way that differs from your own. They might be pushing you in this direction because they prioritize stability in your later life, and they believe computer science to be a financially auspicious pursuit. When you have a conversation about your parents about what major you intend to pursue, tell them that you respect that they have good intentions, and that you acknowledge that they are trying to guide you because they care about your success. Firmly (but courteously) assert your own opinion, because you should be the only person fully in charge of your own life.  Be patient, but persistent. This conversation may need to happen multiple times, and it may take them time to accept that you are becoming more independent as you transition to adulthood.

I hope this helps, and I hope your parents will respect your decision!