A Guide to Stanford OHS


Participate and pay attention in class. Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted, but paying attention in class time is extremely vital to understanding the material and not getting super stressed around midterms/finals.

Take notes in classes. (and definitely take notes on all your readings and lectures). Some people don’t take notes because they think that the class will be recorded, so they will always be able to find the info they need, however going through recordings of classes is much harder than going through your notes.

Your ideas do not always have to be fully formed. There is value in trying even if you aren’t set on an idea yet or don’t know how to solve the problem. Talking ideas out and trying out steps as you go can be valuable for you and the class. Your teacher will also really appreciate it. And if you mess up – who cares! We’re all here to learn.

Stay Consistent. Developing a habit and schedule for studying and school work will help you pace yourself and not rush to understand class material the night an assignment is due.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Go to teachers for help when you’re stuck (don’t be shy about emailing them!)

Go to office hours and talk with your teachers. This advice can’t be overstated. It is extremely useful if you are struggling with a concept in class. Teachers are more than willing to help! Even if not for academics or because you are confused, but just to get to know your teachers and for recommendation letters down the road, going to office hours can be very helpful.

Go to peer-tutors and teachers. If you didn’t really learn something four weeks ago and now you have an exam on the material, go to the teacher! Don’t just go to peer-tutors for assignment help, you can also just talk to them about any material you are confused about.

Visit the Student Academic Support and Services page. Here you can find much more detailed tips for specific classes written by instructors who have taught the class and peer tutors or students who have taken the class.

Study Habits

Write to-do lists so that you know at the start of each day what you want to accomplish. There’s also nothing more satisfying than crossing items off your to do list after you’ve finished them. Divide up tasks by what needs to be done today, done tomorrow, or done this week.

Have a planner or some place else where you can write down when assignments are due, don’t rely on memory.

Plan ahead. Be aware of when things are going to get really busy and take advantage of when they are not to maybe get ahead or plan for extensions. When you ask for extensions, teachers really appreciate it if you ask days in advance for the extension. Many have a 24 hour prior policy for extensions, so plan around that.

Use the Canvas agenda feature. This best thing to ever happen to Canvas – an auto generated agenda feature that sorts out your assignments. Use this to stay organized! Still, don’t solely rely on this as teachers sometimes don’t add all assignments or readings to the agenda.

Keep track of when you will have exams or large projects so that you can get started on them two weeks in advance, it may seem like a lot of time but time can pass quickly and it will be gone before you realize it.

Ask for help if you don’t know how to study for a class or reach out to your teacher and/or students who previously took the class.

Invest in a good alarm clock to avoid sleeping through classes.

Let your computer read to you. Use option-esc if you are on a mac, and an auditory learner, and your computer can read out the page for you.

Study with others! Take advantage of study group and study calls! Seek out classmates to study and work with.

Have set times for working and relaxing. Work within that period and then put the assignment away/submit it after that time is over. Context switching back and forth can be really unproductive. Just setting a time and separating tasks out so that you can focus on your work when you need to and then really relax when you do.


Know your limits. Push yourself, but don’t push yourself too far know when to take a break.

Don’t be afraid of taking a break. Your mind needs a break from working hard. Going out to the movies with friends, reading a book, taking a nap, or watching Netflix or Youtube can help you re-set and relax.

Spend time not only studying, but also learning how you study. It might take you more time to figure out how you study and there will likely be a trial and error period until you figure out what works for you but it will be much more effective in the end.

Sleep is important and you need to actively prioritize it. Getting sleep rather than pulling an all nighter will always help you perform better.

Do non-school things. Take time out to work on things you enjoy outside of school work, helps you stay engaged and motivated

Work with someone else and make working fun. If you are both working on papers, set an hour timer and whoever writes the least has to do something (the other person can post something on your social media… etc.) Or if that is too extreme both share your screens with the other person and force the other person to not get distracted — make it fun!

You are not alone. You many feel like you’re the only one struggling with class, managing workload, stress etc, but you are definitely not. Most everyone at OHS goes through these highs and lows. The best thing to do is connect with friends who understand your stress and work through these situations together or seek help from counseling.

College Apps

Don’t Procrastinate. Start early (preferably over the summer before your senior year)     

Start looking at colleges early – Google search colleges that are good in your field of interest, use college exploration services, speak with your college counselor.

Brainstorm early and write things down so you can discuss your essays with your college counselor and anyone else who can help refine your work. Look at the Common App prompts. Once you narrow down the colleges you’re going to apply to, find and write down all their supplement prompts.

Give yourself early deadlines. Schedule pre-assign dates (ideally weeks in advance) for yourself when each college’s supplements/personal statement/activities will be done with time to review.

Reach out to college counseling. They are experts in this process of applying to college and will be there to answer any questions you have regarding applications and help you along the way with picking colleges, writing essays, preparing interviews, etc.

Have others read your essays. This is such an important aspect that many people miss. You might think that your essay is absolutely amazing but admission officers are complete strangers with very little time to look over your essay. Get a second, third, fourth opinion. College counselors and Writing Center tutors are great people to seek help for this.

Connect with OHS alum or spring seniors. OHS Alumni and seniors are almost always willing to help and give advice when it comes to college applications. Perhaps even connect with a former OHS student that got into your top choice school.

Be realistic. Know your strengths and your weaknesses, be truthful to yourself that schools with less than 20% acceptance rates are never a sure win. Make sure that the safeties you are applying to are true safeties.

Don’t worry. Work hard on your college apps, but remember chances are that you will get into some college. Who you are when you are stressed is not your best you and this will come across in your essays and interviews.

College is not the end, it’s just the beginning. You don’t have to get into the best school ever to be successful. Where you go to college does not define your ability or who you are. There are so many wonderful opportunities after college, including graduate school!

Standardized Testing

Don’t Procrastinate. Start early and spread out your testing so you don’t have to do SAT/ACT during APs or SAT2s.     

Take tests junior year or earlier. This will save you a lot of stress later on when you have to worry about college applications in the fall of senior year.

Get study books or tutoring services if you need them. Test prep books are always a #1 resource. You can usually find the best ones with a quick search on Amazon. Meet with teachers or student tutors as you study as they can help you since they know the material or have already gone through the test taking process.


Skype. It’s really important to get it and connect with fellow OHS students.

Reach out to people who are in your class. Class skype groups are really useful for meeting people. Many of the groups allow casual off-topic conversations and joining in these is a great way to get connected and meet others.

Use class as an excuse to talk to people. It’s probably the best way to start off a conversation as class is a mutual thing you share. Of course, also start leading discussions away from school as not everyone wants to constantly talk about homework or classes.

Do things outside of OHS! Sharing about your interests outside the classroom makes it a much easier time when talking to others. You’ll find many people love to talk about what they are passionate about – such as their sport, game, etc.

Join clubs you are interested in. This is a great opportunity to meet new people who already have an established similarity in interests as you.

Don’t be afraid to talk to people. The OHS community is incredibly friendly. You’ll often find that there are many people at OHS who would be happy to meet more people. If you ever feel like you have a common interest with someone, just message them about it and start a conversation.

Go to Summer@Stanford to connect with OHS students in person. S@S is indisputably touted as by far the best way to socialize and make friends at OHS.

Attend Meetups. The are frequently underrated, especially by those who live outside of California. Don’t be shy about going, or even creating meetups near you. These are a great way to meet people who live nearby.

Go to MIT Splash/Pixel Festival/Graduation Weekend. These are the biggest (and official-est) meetups with hundreds of OHS students for you to meet.