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The Best Punishment: Why I Need to Raise My GPA to Drive

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Fifteen years. Fifteen years I've been waiting for this. I've been waiting for so long to take driving lessons. I've been waiting for so long to have the freedom to drive where I needed to go, to be able to drive to practice, to drive to and from school and my friends' houses.

When I turned 15 two weeks ago, I was psyched to start driving. Though the state of California doesn't allow teens to take a permit test until they are exactly 15 and a half, anyone can start to prepare right after her 15th birthday. I was all ready to get the booklets, instructions, and everything I needed to prepare for the simple, 40-question test I would take in six months.

That is, until my parents threw me a curveball a few days ago.

During a somewhat heated discussion about my dropping grades, my parents were trying to think of some way to punish me temporarily until my grades rose. And they found the perfect punishment (or "motivation") for a 15-year-old girl: I'm not allowed to start learning and taking lessons for my permit until I raise my GPA by .5 by the end of the semester.

Mind you, I don't have awful grades -- however, they aren't the same as the straight A's I had received in recent years. That's what worries my parents.

They hit the spot that would most affect any teenage girl. To be able to drive at 16 is essentially the same as being able to breathe air.

Of course, I'm not denying that my parents have a really smart idea there. It's certainly motivation. I don't want to be that senior who was too lazy to start driving lessons sooner -- except I'm not that senior. I want to drive so desperately, but I need to meet my parent's standards for my grades.

Their ruling is one of the most logical punishments possible. I would even say that other parents could learn from this, because it really urges me to work harder to achieve that freedom I've been longing for. Tying my GPA to driving lessons is what may ultimately help me to have good grades at the end of the semester.

So how do I raise my grades (in some areas, by a whole letter grade) over the course of three months, before finals at the end of January?

Step one: Talk to the teachers. I scheduled appointments with many of my teachers to discuss how I could raise my grade in the class, because every teacher has different methods of teaching and resources for their students.

Step two: Tutoring. Whether it's private tutoring or after school in the chemistry lab, I'm currently getting tutored in almost every subject I'm taking. Before school, I have Spanish twice a week, and after school I have math, chemistry or peer tutoring every day. Often at tutoring, the teachers may give concerned students an insight into what they can expect on upcoming tests, homework and other pieces of the course.

Step three: The right environment. Instead of studying in my room, which is full of distractions, now I do all of my homework downstairs in a study room that my dad renovated for my brother and me. I'm only allowed to use my laptop for homework, until I finish for the night. Using new study habits picked up in tutoring, I create flashcards and study guides for my classes ahead of time in the study room.

I've learned a lot over the past few weeks about how to raise my grades. It started because of wanting to earn my driving permit, but now it's also for personal benefits. I need less stress, and I can achieve that through better grades.