How I balance school & WEF
If you didn’t know, I go to an online school. I switched to an online school my junior year, however, because of Covid, I’ve been online since the second half of my freshman year. Although it’s not for everyone, online school has opened doors for me as a student, equestrian, and person. I can travel down to WEF nearly every week, I can take a range of courses (college, AP, etc.), and I can not only intern for a company but also run Breeches and Sweats. I will forever be grateful for all the online school has done for me. Today, I will be sharing with you some of my top tips for balancing online school and WEF, but also have some of my closest friends share with you how they balance their school (one fully in-person and one hybrid) with WEF.
Before sharing some of my tips, here is my typical schedule when traveling to WEF:
Monday: Mondays can be a toss-up. We usually get home very late Sunday, so Monday usually will be a day to recharge. I typically spend the morning cleaning up, scheduling, and relaxing. By the afternoon, I try to get a couple of assignments done for school, so I stay on top of my schoolwork for the week. Usually, I will have 5-6 assignments per class that I need to get done for the week.
Tuesday and Wednesday: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my most productive days. I typically work on school work from 8/9 am until around 5 pm. I like to get as ahead on schoolwork as possible, so these days are packed full of assignments that need to get done. On Tuesday, I will usually meet with my math tutor to review some of the chapters I don’t understand in my AP Calculus class. Thursday: Thursdays are my half days. I usually work in the morning and then leave in the afternoon for Wellington. Since it is the end of my week, I try to only leave a couple of assignments to do, especially because I’m trying to pack and prepare myself to leave.
Friday-Sunday: Friday through Sunday I take off of school. Quite honestly, I find that I get too busy at the horse show that I don’t have time to do school. But, at this point, I am pretty far ahead in most of my classes (most of them I am a month ahead in), so I don’t need to worry about taking that extra day off. Plus, it’s nice to spend time with the horses and decompress.
Obviously, my schedule isn’t the same every week, as I have different appointments that pop-up or even different energy levels. However, this is pretty much what my week looks like.
Now, let’s transition into some of my 4 top tips for balancing school and WEF (or any winter circuit)
First and foremost, get as ahead of school as you can! Whether or not you attend an online school, there are usually opportunities to get ahead of the game.
For example, my sister, Natalie, attends a fully in-person school. She is on the same schedule as me leaving Thursday night to go to Wellington, so she misses school on Friday. However, every week, she gets all of the assignments and notes she needs for Friday’s class so that by Monday, she is up to date on everything she missed and isn’t behind. This is key if you attend an in-person school so you’re not scrambling to get your assignments and tests done by the following Thursday.
For me, however, I can control what assignments I do and when I do them. You all know my love for planners, however, I have recently transitioned to using my iPad as my planner. I used a template on Canva (shown on screen) to create my own planner, and then write in assignments every week. As stated before, I like to do 5-6 assignments per week per course. This helps me so that come Thursday afternoon, I can completely forget about school.
As stated before, I adore planners. For me, they help me from getting overwhelmed with my school work. However, I also use my planners for Breeches and Sweats, my internship, etc. This way, every task I need to do for the week is written down, and I am seeing it every day. However, school is not the only thing you should have planned. Make sure that you are on top of your schedule for the week: when you’re leaving for the airport, when you’re showing, etc. so that you have all your ducks in a row for the week. Additionally, make sure you’re leaving time to get everything done. Something that I struggle with is overloading myself with too much work. Make sure you know your limits and can get everything on your to-do list checked off. Don’t put random and unrealistic things on your to-do list just to have more to check off.
It is shockingly so important to make sure that you have found your “best way to study.” I’ve talked about this so many times in previous blog posts, but I simply can’t stress it enough! If you find the best way to study, it will be so much easier and faster for you to study and retain information.
For me, I love one-pagers, but recently I’ve changed it up a little bit and created something that I call a “brain mash.” This is a technique where I take one sheet of paper and write out everything I know about a topic and then copy the key parts off of my notes. For my AP Calc class, I take down all the important definitions, equations, and theorems. However, for my APUSH and APES classes, I try to show the connections between the chapters and how one definition or event leads to another.
Other methods that people find useful include flashcards, videos, Quizlet, audio, rewriting notes, whiteboards (which I also love), etc.
I’ll admit, I can find it really hard to jump right into a school day knowing the amount of work that I have to do. I’ll try to distract myself or procrastinate to push off my assignments. But, I’ve mastered the art of “setting the mood” for my study day. First, I make sure I have an ice water, and I am fed. When I get to my room, I turn on my salt lamp, get my diffuser going, and turn on my monitor. I also make sure all of my study materials are within arms reach. Before studying, I ensure my room is clean, and I have no distractions. I don’t want to give myself any reason not to study or do school. Finally, I put on my AirPods and get ad-free study music going. I love using YouTube for my study music because I find they have better study music than Apple or Spotify. I will then pop in some gum and get rolling!
Here is a perspective from one of my friends who goes to a fully in-person school!
“It can be a little challenging at times but I find the best thing to do is plan ahead. I miss Fridays so having a plan about how I am going to get notes and how I’m going to catch up on the material that I miss has been important. If I have tests scheduled for Friday, I usually try to take them early to avoid falling behind. During the week I usually try to get ahead with my work, so my homework load is minimal over the weekend. That way I don’t have to do a ton on the weekend when it’s hard to find study spaces and the service isn’t good at the show.
As far as the college process goes, I really tried to do the majority of my applications in the fall since I wasn’t showing in the fall.
Also meeting with teachers and keeping lines of communication open has been soooo crucial. I find that some of them are understanding and want to make accommodations to help me.”
And here is a perspective from another friend doing a hybrid school
"I go into the Education place (in Wellington) around 3-4 days a week and I spend however much time I need there each day to keep up with my work at home. The place is super flexible with my riding hours (I can leave to go ride and come back afterwards). I communicate with each of my teachers to keep up with my work at home!"