12/17/2012 09:12 am ET Updated Feb 16, 2013

Finding a Favorite Subject at School

I think with most things, sometimes we need a bit of a shove -- a push in the right direction from our parents to try something we may not be used to, like training for an athletic event or studying. It is often just what we need when we have to finally buckle down and get on top of it!

In the sports world, finals are referred to more in the form of physical training, but for school, it's final exams.

This past fall, I entered my senior year of high school at K12. To think it is my final year of online classes before graduating high school is a big achievement, but it also brings to mind an "OH NO" moment in that 'this is it.' At K12, we get to take electives in areas of interest and I only get one more semester to take classes in the areas that most excite me.

This sort of "OH NO" moment is also something I think we start to feel when finals begin to creep up on us! About a year ago, I had the opportunity to write a book, "99 Things Teens Wish The Knew Before Turning 16," and my publisher has allowed me to pull a few tips to share with you on study habits.

I can tell you firsthand that cramming the night before doesn't help. There is no reason to be cramming all at once. If you stick to a few quick habits, you can take your time and go at your own pace, resulting in substantial rewards and confidence for yourself. Believe me, I've been there.

• Make lists and prioritize
• Find the right environment to get your work done, where you can be productive
• Don't be afraid to ask for help from classmates, parents or even a tutor
• There are a lot of study groups you can join that are really helpful

I probably travel more than the average kid my age, so the most important thing for me in being successful as a student-athlete is scheduling and staying organized. I use my iPhone or iPad to do a lot of scheduling for meetings with my race team or for sponsorship and press obligations. For stuff like my schoolwork, I'm pretty old-fashioned. I stick to a pen and paper. It's easier to write down and structure things exactly how I want them.

I met a girl by the name of Adora Svitak, who was 12 years old while we were both speaking at a conference at Microsoft a few years ago. She was the youngest person to speak at one of those TED conferences and has written several books. She even teaches! She says that being successful starts with being organized. I've tried to always keep that in the back of my mind as I move forward.

That sort of focus on organization is something that really pays off. It is also never too late to get organized. Like some of you, I tend to freak out and feel overwhelmed if I have too much going on in my schedule. I wonder where to even start. So I recommend you take a step back, get organized, put your priorities in order and get to work.

I'm curious: How are you getting ready for finals this year?