When we first entered state office, the first thing our coach said was: “three things come before DECA: faith, family, and school. Keep this in mind as you continue through your DECA and high school journey.”
With that in mind, here are seven tips to help you balance DECA and school:
- Be wise about choosing your events and courses
Be sure to challenge yourself in school, but don’t drown yourself in work. For instance, many people taking several AP classes recognized that they would not be able to write a 30-page business plan, so instead they chose a Professional Selling Event for a written event with no writing.
Also, choose CTE classes that relate to DECA! DECA is a co-curricular organization, so it encourages members to apply the knowledge they have soaked up at school to their DECA events. Be wise about your time: you only have 24 hours, and you need to sleep (yes, you do). Don’t pile a load of AP and Honors courses just because others are. If you love DECA, have fun and spend time on your events, but don’t sacrifice school or your sanity for it.
- Finish (or complete most of) your homework during school hours
Many schools allow for a prep period instead of a class. With this time, students often sit in the library and try to complete as much homework as possible during the school day. If my homework is done, or mostly done, then you will have time at home to do what else you need or want: work on DECA events, watch TV, etc.
- Plan out your schedule
Sometimes, writing out what’s to come in the month (or the year) really helps! There are many ways to plan things out and different ways work for different people. For example, some people like to use online post-it notes to help track work, while others use Google calendar or a highly decorated planner. After making a schedule, make sure you carry through (this may be challenging)!
- Prepare ahead of time
Your event won’t be half as good as those who prepare well ahead of you. Completing and learning 5-10 test questions a day will empower you much more than 500 questions the day before competition. Thirty minutes a day – or even a week – will take you far in event preparation. Slow and steady wins the race!
- Study with your partner
Try out Team Decision Making Events or written events with a partner who shares similar classes as you. Study together to monitor each other – keep each other focused and on task. Switch on and off between DECA events and homework. This will also help you both to get to know each other better, which is critical for team events and presentations.
- Talk to your teachers
If school is getting stressful, don’t hesitate to talk to your teachers. Adults can be intimidating sometimes, but keep in mind that they were also once teenagers. Tell them about what DECA is, why it’s important to you, and why you’re trying to your best to balance school and DECA, and ask if it’s possible to complete a modified assignment (NOT an easier one – a modified one). Most teachers are very kind about giving extensions. If your teacher does give you an extension, be sure to thank them after and let them know how much it means to you.
- Take time to relax and breathe
Sometimes you just have to take a break from school and DECA! Go to church, watch a movie with your family, shop ‘til you drop with your friends, take a run around the block, or hide in your room and binge watch your favorite show.
Here’s to a balanced life!