This past week it really hit me that I am going into senior year. It feels so surreal to think that I have already completed freshman, sophomore, and junior year and will be starting my last year of high school in about six weeks. The common app is up and I am officially entering the terrifying college process. On the bright side, however, I made it through my junior year alive and thought I would share some tips for the class of 2018. Junior year has bad stigma because yes it is challenging and stressful, however there are so many exciting things that come in this year and I guarantee if you manage your workload efficiently that you will enjoy it! It's a big year and a big learning experience- both in and out of the classroom- so good luck and make the most of it!
Run for leadership positions // By junior year, chances are you have found a club or two that you are truly passionate about. I highly recommend taking the step and running for a leadership position during the year. Having a bigger role in a club, or being a sports captain is such a great way to get to know people better that have similar interest as you, and it never hurt to have an extra thing to add to your college application (we're all thinking it). Even if you don't win, this is such a great experience and will help you with public speaking.
Form a relationship with your guidance/college counselor // It is crucial that you get to know your guidance counselor well throughout junior year as they play a very large role in helping you with your college process. If you have not been doing it already, start stopping by to say hi and chat a little bit. You don't need to have a major life issue or school problem to go talk to them, they want to know you to help make your high school experience positive, and you want them to know you just as much to help you when it comes time to apply to college. Additionally, they are such great resources when it comes to making a list of college you are interested in, and if you have any pressing questions/concerns about school.
Take the SAT & the ACT // Though you may think that they are practically the same, the SAT and the ACT are pretty different in actuality. It is important to take both to figure out what which one you preform stronger on. Standardized tests have never been my strong suit, so I started tutoring in January and took the ACT at the beginning of February followed by the SAT in March. After getting both scores back I figured out that I like the SAT much better and have since taken it again. If you're like me and know going into the tests that you will likely take them a few times, I highly recommend starting as early as possible. Looking back, I really wish that I took the SAT in December because then I could have taken them 3 or 4 times before junior year ended. I think that I am going to take them a third time in October to hopefully improve my super score, which is honestly the last thing you want to do during senior fall, especially if you are planning on going ED somewhere in November.
Don't stay up too late // One of the biggest things that I learned about myself this year is that I am not a night owl. During junior year, nine out of ten times I would go to bed before 11:00 and was so much more rejuvenated in the morning. Also, I realized that I did not retain a significant amount of information late at night, and staying up late "studying" just was not beneficial. The work load is a lot junior year, but if you manage your time well you can avoid unnecessary stressful late nights.
Figure out teacher recommendations in the early spring // At my school, we are required to get two teacher recommendations for college before the end of junior year. I recommend finding out how many letters you will need and coming up with a few teachers that you know you would be comfortable asking for the letter in case one can't do it. Right after spring break there was a mad rush of people asking for letters and teachers began to put a cap on the amount they would write, which became really stressful for some people. Colleges like to have the teacher recommendations from your junior year teachers, so start building relationships with them at a the beginning of the year, this will make the letter more personal and appealing to schools during the application process. Remember to ask for the recommendation in person, your teachers are doing you a huge favor and you need to be respectful and appreciative of their time!
Take electives that can boost your GPA // One of the main reasons that junior year is so stressful is that your GPA at the end of the year is what you will be applying to college with if you decide to go early decision or early action. It is so important to maintain a strong GPA throughout the year as it not only affects your college search, but also your acceptance into things such as the national honor society. At my school we don't count art classes and most electives towards your GPA, however if you take half year senior courses as an elective it will help you. I took economics my first semester and it really helped my GPA, so if your school works like this as well I recommend opting for electives that will factor into your GPA.
Don't stress too much about prom // This one sounds kind of silly in the grand scheme of things, but trust me come spring it will be very relevant. Prom is just another high school activity, so don't stress too much about getting a date or finding the perfect dress. Have fun and take lots of pictures with your friends!
Stay after // This is not so much specific to junior year but high school in general. If you are confused by a lesson, or just want some help reviewing for a test, stay after school with your teachers. It is their job to help you and by staying after you demonstrate your dedication to the class and your grades. Staying after may even help you build a relationship with the teacher and get a strong recommendation later in the year :)
Find a good form of stress relief // I'm not going to lie, there will 100% be days, or even weeks that are simply awful. The workload can get difficult, especially in the spring with AP exams and long term projects and you need an outlet. This past year I got really into spinning and went 3+ times a week. 5:30 am classes forced me to get to bed early and get to school refreshed and alert, and night classes were the perfect distraction for homework. Whether it be running, spinning, walking, or going to the gym, find a productive workout routine that helps clear your mind, and keep you in shape throughout the year.
Treat yo self // For all the Parks & Rec fans out there I hope you get my reference :) When you complete a research paper, or preform well on a test you were stressed for it is nice to reward yourself sometimes. I'm not saying you should go out and spend your life savings on some crazy designer item, but meet up with your friends for dinner on a friday night or grab some ice cream after school. It's the little things that will get you through them many bumps of junior year!
Good luck to the class of 2018 this year, you will do great! Also, if you have any tip for senior year let me know as I am always looking for tips as well!
Preppy by the Sea