5 Tips For When You’re Struggling in Class

Classes don’t always go as planned. Sometimes you fall behind in your reading or get stuck on a tough math concept. If you’re struggling with any of your classes, here are some tips to help you turn your grade around!

1. Ask for help

Meet with your teacher and let them know you are struggling in class. Since they give the exams, they likely have some helpful insight you can use on test day. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t know what to ask, here are some ideas. 

  • How can I prepare for future tests? 
  • Do you offer extra help outside of class? 
  • Do you have any recommendations for tutoring? 

Show your professor your class notes. They can tell you if you’re focusing on the relevant information or if you’re stuck in the details.

Get help from your classmates. Start a study group or ask if they can spend a couple of minutes explaining a specific concept to you. If your class has a teacher’s assistant, ask them for help. Check around. Most schools offer extra support when you’re struggling in a class.

2. Evaluate your priorities

If school isn’t a priority, consider moving it higher on the list of priorities. We understand life happens and schedules get busy, but you shouldn’t ditch your schoolwork. Remind yourself of your future goals and why prioritizing school now will help you reach them.

3. Learn from your failures

Review the mistakes you made on your last exam. Read the comments on your graded essays. Identifying where you made mistakes will help you understand the material better the next time you take a test. Reviewing what you did wrong feel disheartening, but look at it as a learning experience! Instead of dwelling on the mistakes, use them as a way to improve.

4. Put in the extra effort

Not all teachers offer extra credit, but if they do, take advantage of it! Not only will the points combat a bad grade on a major test or assignment, but your teacher will see that you are serious about succeeding in their class.

5. Don’t give up

Abandoning hope will keep you from succeeding. Continue working hard, and don’t give up! Even if you don’t get the grade you wanted, you will know you did your very best. If a professor sees your extra effort, they might even give you the boost you need to pass the class.

While it’s completely normal to struggle in your classes, help is available. If you’re having a hard time in more than one class, you may need to drop an extracurricular activity or evaluate your priorities. Try not to stress. Eventually, you’ll find a balance that is right for you!

Should You Consider a GAP Year?

You’ve likely heard your friends talking about taking a year off before getting back to the grind in college. But what is it? How do you do it? What’s the likelihood of making moves after?

Whatever you choose, you’ll find that taking some time off after high school can be beneficial to your mental health and make a positive impact as you discover yourself, your interests, and your passions.

What is a gap year?


A gap year is a chunk of time after high school that is dedicated to experiential learning. High school is tough, and the academic and social pressures can cause severe burnout. This is typically when high-school graduates find time to travel, find paid work, become an intern and make connections outside of the classroom – you know; “adulting”. Gap years have been described as a reset to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness. This can really help you gain confidence in your abilities to become independent which can greatly benefit someone when choosing a career and correlating major pathways in college.

Potential Cons:

Something to consider: taking a gap year isn’t for everyone. Think about the last time you took a vacation somewhere: when you returned, your motivation to do homework or clean your room was probably low. If this is your truth, consider some of the disadvantages of taking a gap year. Some students can feel a sense of lost momentum, fear of falling behind, and struggle knowing that the transition back to school may become more difficult. When we say that a gap year is heavy on planning, trust us (especially if you’re considering travel). One thing’s for sure, if you’re considering it,  you should go into your gap year with a clear plan of what you’re aiming for. If you don’t keep focused and aim toward a goal, you’re likely to miss out on the positive advantages a gap year can offer.

Should you take a gap year?

A decision of this caliber totally shouldn’t be taken lightly. In fact, the only person who truly knows the answer to this question isn’t your parents or teachers; it’s you. Consider this your first “adult” decision. It’s important to consider the pros and cons when making a choice and know how valid you are when weighing out your options! This year has the potential to be the most amazing adventure of your life by shaping your perspective on what success means to you.

As always, go with your gut and remember that no matter which direction you take, we’re here to cheer you on and prepare you for your next steps! 

Ways to Avoid Summer Brain Drain

Summer is meant to recharge and unwind, obviously. But we have to keep it real, you run the risk of catching what we call the “Summer Brain Drain” by not exercising your mind while you’re out of school. Keep reading to see how many items you’ve accomplished this summer.

Dive into a good book

You probably already know, reading is one of the best ways for you to keep your brain sharp. During the school year, reading is part of your daily to-do list, but in summer – it’s easy to forget – we get it. Just be mindful to schedule some time before bed or first thing in the morning to read (even if it’s just 10 minutes at a time).

Go to summer camp

Summer camps are an awesome way to stay interactive with your peers, make new friends, learn some new skills, and keep you from being bored! Consider volunteering or becoming a camp counselor as a resume booster!

Stay moving!

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Make it fun and find some friends to hike or kayak with. Note to self: walking is good for the soul.

Schedule a weekly game night

Board games designed to help you sharpen your problem solving skills, discover patterns, and reach goals. They also help to prevent you from feeling foggy when coming back to school in the fall.

Take a break from technology

Reset and spend time making connections with family and friends without a screen in front of your face. You can set limits on your phone for screen time and monitor it in your settings. 

Practice journaling

Literally about anything. What made you happy that day, a cool thing you learned, a letter to your future self. Have something good? Share it with us on IG! @encourage_app

Visit museums

So much to learn. And an ideal instagram-worthy moment.

Go on tours

Ever wonder how orange juice is made? There’s a tour for that. Whether it’s an orange juice factory or a glassblowing studio, take advantage! They’re typically very affordable and can offer a perspective on how things are made!

States and national parks

Hiking, chilling, photography – whatever! You can hit up your local parks to experience a mind-soothing outdoor sesh.  Don’t forget comfy shoes, water and a buddy!

Go camping

Ah, nature. Learn to start a fire or pitch a tent and connect with family and friends. Don’t forget your bug spray!

Plant a garden

By planting a garden, you have the chance to learn about nutrition and general green thumb lifehacks. Your future plant-parent self will thank you.

Make a bucket list 

Create a photo journal of your activities with a polaroid cameras and make a scrapbook of all your adventures!

5 Reasons You Should Download the Encourage App

So many things to do and SO little time. Trying to balance planning for the future and living in the present? We found a way to optimize an interactive, low-stress tool to make sure you’re covered for life after high school. We’re more than your average college planning app.  

Keep reading to learn more about why you should be sprinting to your app store after reading. 

We celebrate each step of your journey with milestones

The journey takes a lot of planning and a lot of steps, and this can seem really overwhelming. We’re ready to bake a cake and celebrate each step you achieve when planning for college; do you like chocolate or vanilla?

Match with colleges directly

You’ll create a profile and list preferences about cost, lifestyle, majors, and more to customize your college matches. Find the school that makes sense for you while you’re chasing your dreams. You’ll have the option to save schools that pique your interest and get to know them more.

Match with scholarships

No joke, college is expensive. Answer simple questions about your preferences, priorities about affordability, and other interests, and we’ll match you to your best-fit scholarship opportunities.

It’s basically a to-do list laid out for you! The guesswork is over.

Half of the battle is simply wondering what you need to do to make it work. Thankfully, we’ve designed your to do list for you depending on preferences and goals. Sounds like a win to us.

We’ve got the experience to make a difference

Long story short, we’ve got over 100 combined years of research experience to build a unique app experience that high school students love to use when planning for college. For the past 50 years, we have been evolving the way we do things by listening to the student experience and implementing changes as needed. In a nutshell, you can trust us to guide you in the right direction when painting a picture of your future!

Intrigued? We can’t blame you. Download the app below and take flight! We’ll be on standby with your cake.

5 Tips to Rock Your First Internship

Congratulations! You’ve scored a great internship and are laying the foundation for your future as a professional. Internships are a great way to gain hands-on experience and increase your chances of finding a full-time job. Here are some tips to help shake the first day jitters and rock your internship:  

1. Be Prepared 

Do your research before you get there. Read up on the company’s purpose, history, and culture. You should also explore the industry and industry buzzwords. If you want to, you could also ask your supervisor for any reading or pre-work you should do before your first day! 

2. Show Your Commitment 

Show up to work on-time and be sure to get all your work done by the deadlines. Be sure to ask questions if you have them and express your enthusiasm and motivation for learning. It’s imperative to communicate your interest in your work. You should also ask your supervisor for feedback on the projects you work on. Doing this will give you areas to focus and improve upon so that you can make the most of your internship. 

3. Network 

Remember, an internship also offers you the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from people of different age groups and backgrounds. So be sure to introduce yourself and try to meet everyone in the office (or at least your department). Not only will this give insight into the way your company works, but you might also pick up a few extra projects along the way. Who knows, you may even find yourself a mentor too! 

4. Seize Opportunity 

Ask your supervisor about tasks you can work on when you don’t have anything specific to do. Take on the mindset that you want to contribute as much as you can before you leave your internship. By asking for more responsibilities, you may land a project that you can highlight on your resume and promote in future job interviews. By seizing each day, you will be able to keep yourself busy and set goals for yourself. 

5. Give It Your Best 

Doing the best you can is the most important rule when completing work-related tasks. By jumping into each task with everything you have, you are more likely to do a good job.  

By the end, be sure to thank your employer for the wonderful opportunity! Hopefully, with these tips, you will leave your internship with a valuable experience that taught you about the workplace and allowed you to forge relationships with professionals. Be sure to keep in touch even after the experience is over! 

Match Your Career Goals to Your College Major

As a college student, it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after you graduate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the options before you, we get it. You’ve got so many choices, and no idea where to start.

Work Backwards

You’re not alone. In fact, we recommend figuring out which career you want, and then shaping your education based on those dreams. That way, when you’re ready to go out into the world and start looking for a job or internship, you can focus on refining the skills that will help get you there—not just finding something that sounds good on paper.

If you want to be an astrophysicist but didn’t take physics in high school, don’t let that stop you from pursuing your dream! Just take the classes that will help give you the skills you need.

Consider Time and Money

Let’s be real, education isn’t cheap! If you’re hoping to save some money while earning a potential degree, consider saving some cash by kicking off at a community college and transferring later. If you’re interested in attending graduate or medical school, we love that for you! Just consider the cost and be sure to really research some options for financial aid.

Visit Your School’s Career Center

Meet with advisors who will help identify skills and interests that are related to specific fields of study; discuss ways in which those skills can be translated into job opportunities; learn how different majors prepare students for certain careers; determine what educational or professional requirements exist before entering a particular field of study; explore options available within each major; and explore options outside of each major that may lead toward career goals.

Find your fit and focus!

If the first step of choosing a career doesn’t work for you, then focus on the fit of your major. Take note of how you feel during different classes. Do you see yourself doing this type of work in the future? Trust your intuition; do you have an overall sense of ease or belonging when it comes to your major? Reflect, and adjust accordingly!

Matching your major to your future career is all about setting yourself up to achieve your dreams and aspirations. No matter where you are in this process, keep these steps in the back of your mind. Though we encourage you to contemplate these big questions about your future, don’t let it stress you out. You will figure it out, we promise!

Building Your College List

When you’re applying to college, building a list of programs that interest you is essential. Knowing where to begin can be the hardest part, to be honest. With so many opinions flying around you, “Go here”, “Do this”, “They haven’t won a championship game in 12 years”, it can be so overwhelming to even know what it is you want in a college experience.

HERE’S YOUR REMINDER, FRIEND: This is YOUR education and YOUR choice on what’s going to be the right move for you. There are plenty of options out there for everyone, and not every campus is the same. Take some notes on some important guides to keep your mind in the right place as you build your dream college list.

Nail down your numbers

You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you know exactly where you stand. You won’t be surprised by what’s possible—or what isn’t—and it will help you make sure that the things that are most important. You know that test score and GPA is going to be a factor, so be realistic in your hunt when looking at requirements at different campuses.

Weigh those priorities!

What’s important to you? Is it a social scene? Location by city? Interested in the top STEM program in the Northwestern US? SO many things to consider when picking the next step in your life! Write a list from 1-10 on what factors play a part in choosing the right school. You’ll be surprised at what takes the top of the list!

Know yourself and your situation

Self-exploration and self-reflection are critical to knowing your unique personal situation. Start by owning your personal ambitions and build a roadmap for how to get there. What interests you? Which subject inspires you? What problem in the world do you want to help solve? If you don’t know what profession interests you, that is okay! There are college programs set up to help you explore that. Clarifying your career goals and interests will help you select schools that can support you the way you need.

Identify your support circle

Friend, you can’t possibly do this alone! Whether you know it or not, you have people who are cheering you on and ready to see you win. These same people can offer motivation, wisdom, and advice. You can turn to family, friends, coaches, teachers, counselors, and peers for guidance! Never forget though: This is your journey. A strong support system can serve as a board as you continue to unpack your priorities, make decisions, and plan for life after high school.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will anyone else?

So here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to take some time to reflect on where we are right now, what our priorities are and how much support we have in our lives—and then we’re going to decide together where we want to go from there. Cheering you on from Encourage – you got this!

7 Ways to Crush Your Goals

If you’re working to become #GOALS, you know how challenging it can be to stay the course and continue grinding. It’s easy to go through the everyday motions and feel like you’re not making progress.

But you know what’s great about setting goals? You can do anything you set your mind to.

We’ve been there too. Plenty of times. And to be honest, the only way to get through it is by crafting a sensical, realistic plan to achieve your goals. When it comes to embarking on your journey, it’s ESSENTIAL to understand what’s important to you and how to achieve what it takes to get there. If you’re stuck on how to set goals, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 7 helpful tips to keep you motivated to crush them.

1. Make your goal specific

Setting vague goals like “I want a new job” or “I want to find a better job” may seem like a good idea at the time, but they’re not going to help anyone get anywhere. Instead, try setting specific goals with steps in between them: “Apply for 3 jobs in my field this week,” or even better, “Start researching companies I might want to work for.”

2. Measure your progress

Know where you stand! Sometimes getting lost in the details of a project can be overwhelming—especially if they’re not great details! But if you don’t measure where you are against where you want to be, how will anyone know when they need to step in and help? You wouldn’t bake an entire cake without measuring first (right?)

3. Make your goals attainable and be realistic

The point of setting goals is not to make yourself feel bad about what you can’t do—the point is to stretch yourself and grow into someone who can do it! So if you’re setting a goal that seems totally out of reach, re-evaluate. Is it worth setting at all? If so, how can you make it more realistic?

4. Stay relevant – is this for YOU?

Goals should always come from within—so if there’s something you want to do that doesn’t feel like an authentic expression of who YOU are right now, maybe let it go for now and revisit later when you’re more ready for it. But don’t be afraid to dream big! You never know where life will take you!

5. Set an appropriate timeline

When setting your goals, defining a solid time frame will only benefit your progress without leaving you feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to get it all done at once! You can break things down into smaller chunks and tackle them one at a time.

6. Find someone who’s been there, done that

Draw inspiration from the people who have already accomplished the goals you’re seeking. Ask for tips and tricks and ask questions about what they wish they could have done differently. This can be a huge motivator when things get tough – AND REMEMBER: if they could do it, so can you!

7. Stay positive!

It’s easy to fall into a negative mindset when things aren’t going your way, but we all know that the power of positive thinking can be so incredibly powerful. Don’t forget about the beauty of manifesting your outcomes and being intentional with your goals! Consider writing down your achievements, thoughts, and intentions so you can put them into action. Keep going!

By establishing some simple, effective rules in your goal-setting journey, there’s no doubt you’ll find yourself accomplishing all of the amazing things you’re dreaming of right now. Remember, you used to wish for the life you’re living right now… and look at you… doing it (and well, we might add).

Let’s do this!