Everyone always complains about the prospect of Junior Year. After mostly cruising through 9th and 10th grade, people are usually taking their first AP classes, getting higher positions in their extracurricular activities, and worrying about the SATs and ACTs. But it doesn’t end there. There are responsibilities that come as a part of finally being upperclassman. There are better parties, better things to participate in, and the junior class always has to stand its ground against the haughty seniors. With all of that it is hard to imagine how one could juggle everything. I mean, doesn’t it truly seem impossible?
Trust me, it’s not impossible. I took three AP classes (one being AP Physics B), took PSAT/SAT prep classes, worked twice a week, and participated in numerous clubs. It was hard but totally do-able. There were many nights that I stayed up to study and other nights I stayed up to hang out. There were hard assignments and assignments that I kind of blew off. There were good teachers and bad teachers. However, the thought of a great senior year really kept me going.
So basically, to survive Junior Year (like I did), there are some things you need to do:
1. TAKE THE PSATS!! Even take a prep class if needed. Many people disregard this test because they write it off as just a practice SAT that will give the student an indicator of what they need to improve for the SATs. However, depending on how well one performs, National Merit status can be attained. This year the cut off was a 201/240 and I got a 203. Being a National Merit Scholar opens up a lot of avenues for scholarships and can make the difference between acceptance into the school of your dreams and an acceptance at only your safety/target schools. Of course, one doesn’t need to take a class like I did, but this summer is a good time to take a few practice PSATs to improve one’s score.
2. FIND TWO TEACHERS WHO LIKE YOU!! Teacher recommendations are the backbone of one’s college application. Make sure at least two of your teachers like you. We all know that everyone hates a suck-up but being smart, courteous, and hardworking will make the teacher like you all the same. Then at the beginning of senior year, your teacher will be able to recall your determined attitude throughout the previous year.
3. DO YOUR WORK!! Junior year is the most important year of high school. If your grades start slacking this year, every school will notice. However, schools do understand that when one progresses into AP classes, that one’s grades may drop a little bit. Nevertheless, make sure the drop, if any, is truly only a little bit. Junior year GPAs really have a significant value, especially since many schools add more points to the averages attained in harder classes. Do your personal best always. (I know that’s really cliché, but there’s no better saying)
4. TAKE THE SATs (or the ACTs)!! These are probably the most hated tests any high school student will ever take. Trust me, I’ve been through it. My score was definitely something most people would aspire to get; yet, it is not exactly good enough for the schools that I’m looking at. But I’ve sucked it on, and most past it. Everyone knows these tests can not define one as a student and if there was anyway they could be abolished, I am sure they would be. Don’t be nervous and definitely take a prep class, if possible. There are millions of books out there. Buy a few, do exercises in all of them, and eventually you’ll get it. The Collegeboard really does have no life. I mean what normal person could make up an SAT? So do your best, don’t get frustrated, and if your score does not reflect your ability, make sure your grades and application essays pick up the slack.
5. HAVE FUN!! This is probably the most important of all the things I have listed. Stressing is horrible. It gives you acne and makes you ugly. The last thing you need during Junior Year is to worry about your looks. I mean by midterm time, most of us are looking like zombies anyway, but you do what you go to do. Right? Definitely go out with your friends, hang out, and enjoy being 16/17. It is great to be this age and the worst thing that one can do is let school take over. Of course, one needs to study and work hard, but unless the paper due Monday is worth 50% or more of your grade, going out for a few hours on Saturday night, really will not make any difference.
Junior year is really as hard and annoying and stressful as people make it out to be. But finding the right balance of fun and work will really get one far. I know that these tips can really help one make their Junior Year experience much better. So good luck, and have a great year!