Life Lessons with Jesse Darwin

Dear Jesse,

I’m a sophomore who is stressed and struggling academically. I’ve heard upperclassmen say that sophomore year is a tough year, and it is. I’m having the most difficulty with chemistry. It’s an interesting class, but it’s a challenge. What advice do you have for me to do well in this course?

Dear Stressed and Struggling Sophomore,

Chemistry serves as an important yet challenging subject to conquer sophomore year. With these challenges, you are going to need some help from those who have already taken it or from someone who is fairly good at the subject. There are three fundamental steps to becoming an effective chemistry student:

Pay Attention

Pay attention in class and avoid distractions – distractions like talking during lectures or taking advantage of the moments in which Mr. Heilman’s eye is off of you to pull out your phone. These moments can be highly detrimental to your learning experience and serve as a reason to earn a worse grade than you intended; however, you will definitely know the difference in your grade when you pay that little extra attention.

Take Notes

Take notes – detailed notes. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile and get not just what’s on the board but also added details spoken out loud and key concepts found in your textbook. These will come in handy at any time throughout the rest of the semester because you will discover that new concepts in chemistry always use information previously learned.

Ask for Help

Never be afraid to go to Mr. Heilman, or students who grasp the information clearly, for help and clarification. Most students feel that if they ask questions they’ll be ridiculed and seen as stupid. You’ll probably find that other students will thank you for asking questions because they probably have the same question. We’re all here to learn, give our best efforts, and invest our time in an important period of our lives.


Asking questions, taking notes, and paying attention will enable you to escalate to better grades and a better understanding than you ever thought you could attain in this challenging subject.