When should you learn how to swim: before or after you get dropped into the middle of a lake?
On the one hand, if you were dropped into the middle of a lake you’d be very motivated to learn how to swim. But on the other hand, it’d be too late because you’d be drowning.
This is, of course, a metaphor for learning skills like organization, planning ahead, and effective studying.
Most students wait until they need these skills before they’re interested in learning them – they wait until they’re drowning in the middle of the lake. This is understandable. Prior to needing these skills, they had no motivation to learn them.
The trouble is that, in the middle of the school year, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, when you can’t figure out why your test scores are so low, you’re not in a good space emotionally to learn big new skills. You don’t feel like you have the mental bandwidth to take on new habits. You don’t feel like you have time to do anything extra on top of your current workload.
It is better to organize your physical and digital worlds before you succumb to the chaos of the school year. It is better to learn time-management strategies before you feel like you have no time to spare. It is better to practice neuroscience-based study techniques before you need to put them to use in AP Biology.
And it is wiser, of course, to learn how to swim before you’re drowning.
P.S. Summer is the perfect time to work on these skills, and we have a whole team of academic coaches who would love to help! Email firstname.lastname@example.org today to schedule.
Chris Loper has been working as a tutor and academic coach since 2014, racking up over 10,000 hours of experience supporting students.
Along with Greg Smith, Chris is the cocreator of Parenting for Academic Success (and Parental Sanity) – a five-part course offered every summer.
Chris’s most recent endeavor combines his academic and habit-formation expertise to help students thrive in college. Visit SmartCollegeHabits.com to learn more.
In 2021, he published a humorous memoir titled Wood Floats and Other Brilliant Observations, a book that blends crazy stories with practical life lessons, available on Amazon and through most local bookstores.
He lives in Issaquah, WA where he is the owner of South Cove Tutoring.