By Lauren Wasserman ’19
“Junior year is going to be the toughest year of your life,” said everyone ever once they found out I was an incoming junior. “Wow,” I would think to myself, rather dejectedly. “This year is going to be so much fun…” But hey, look at me now. I made it! I survived the wrath of junior year. Although junior year can be quite stressful, I come to you with some helpful tips and tricks.
I know it sounds cliche to say you must find your balance between responsibilities and yourself, but at this time of your life, it is more than necessary. Junior year comes with a lot: drivers ed, SATs, ACTs, Advanced Placement classes, subsequent AP tests, SAT subject tests… need I say more? It is all too easy to get caught up in the stress and lose sight of yourself.
At the beginning of junior year my life consisted of SAT prep at the “Princeton Review” every Saturday and Sunday; then swim practice, homework and studying every weekday. Fantastic. However, I reached my breaking point around December. I’m honestly surprised I lasted that long.
Since December, I have found a more effective way of navigating all of these responsibilities. With regards to the SATs it is important to do well, but doing well doesn’t mean receiving a perfect score; it means putting in effort in to obtain your personal best (take it from someone who took four SATs). In terms of homework and studying, I know you want to do well. Realistically though, staring at your AP textbook for four hours straight does not pave the way to perfect grades. Been there, done that.
During junior year, my studying habits changed. This is the year that you can’t not read the passage and get away with it; you must think. Challenge yourself! At the beginning of the year, I was doing miserably on my AP Language multiple choice tests. I went into extra help, practiced multiple choice tests and after really applying myself, I saw improvement. This did not necesitate weeks of review; it required an hour a night of concentrated study.
But junior year consists of so many fun events, too: prom, counties, being an upperclassman. With the right time balance, you can appreciate these fun events, and be more than just another stressed out student.
Survival of junior year tip two: early planning. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is to your wellbeing. Does this mean taking your SAT in October? No… I unfortunately did that. This means figuring out what you need to accomplish, and getting it done quickly.
College visits should be planned early. I unfortunately started late with this process, and am still rushing to finish. Realistically, I now won’t be able to see all of them. Learn from my mistakes and plan these events ahead of time.
Another task to plan early is drivers ed. Start as soon as possible if you choose to take part in it. Once again, learn from my mistakes. I got my drivers permit in September but did not start drivers ed until March. Driving classes were accompanied by March SATs, which added a lot of unnecessary stress to my plate. If you just get it over with, you will have less responsibilities weighing you down.
What is something I did plan early though? My SAT preparation. I signed up for a general review course and started in September. This was something I was happy I did; not only did my SAT scores improve, but it was something I just got done and over with. I do not recommend investing all your time in SAT preparation, but deciding what is best for you –– whether it be studying by yourself, online resources tutoring or other options –– getting this done early is a big advantage at the end of the day. Planning early is perhaps one of the best tips I can offer to help relieve junior year stress.
Junior year is important, but so are you. Remember what your goals are, what makes you happy and how you want to be. Don’t get caught up in the stress. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else says. Don’t compare yourself to others. Do what makes you thrive. Do what you can handle. Do what makes you a person, not just a student. So next time someone warns you junior year is, in what seems to be put in a euphemistic way, “going to suck,” tell them you are ready, because it can be whatever you make it.