Junior year is a time when many things that you were looking forward to in high school start taking place.
For most students, it’s the year that you finally have a driver’s license and are able to drive with your friends. You’re now at an age where you are probably given more freedom from your parents.
You’re also finally an upperclassman and serve as an example to the younger students.
Although you have these exciting things happening, there’s also the other not-so-exciting things you need to start worrying about, such as SAT/ACT, college preparation, employment and more difficult classes.
For most universities, admission officers look at your freshman to junior years in terms of what classes you took, the grades that you received in those classes, and the activities that you did. Since junior year is your last year to prove something to these officers, it should be your most difficult and challenging year in high school.
“Push through, keep all your focus for junior year because colleges look at that year probably the most, so push through this last year and just use all of your effort. Senior year is usually when students tend to relax a little bit more, so don’t slack off your junior year,” senior Nicki Bouche said.
If you plan on going to a four-year university, the SAT and/or ACT are inevitable. The SAT test is something that is discussed in school as early as seventh grade, so it has developed a sort of stigma and fear for students.
The thought of studying for this test creates panic and, on top of the classes that you are already taking and your extracurricular activities, the SAT can seem like a huge struggle for your junior year.
“Take your SAT/ACT early on and once you take them figure out which one you like best, or a personal preference, and then study, study, study for it. Don’t try and take it at the end of the year because you will have AP tests and finals and it will be too much going on, so I would definitely say start early in your junior year,” senior Maci Mata said.
Researching what test the university you want to go to accepts or if they require more than one test is something that you should be informed of prior to your senior year. The key for being prepared when it comes to college applications is planning ahead.
“It is definitely stressful because I didn’t take [the SAT] until June of my junior year and I probably still have to take more subject tests if I want to go into engineering or if I want to go to a really good school, and those usually happen in October. Also, if I want to retake my SATs in November, my senior year is going to be really stressful. So I’d say definitely take it by April because then you’ll know your score and then you can start planning for what steps you need to take next,” senior Jacinta Garcia said.
Since this is your third year in high school, you probably have already found your niche in high school. You know what activities you enjoy and the kind of classes you work best in.
It’s important to follow through with the things you were previously doing and excel at them you junior year. For example, if you were in a club, think about running for a leadership position.
“Take your freshman and sophomore year to find what you really want to do in school like cross country, track, football, theater, choir, or anything that you like. And by your junior year you should definitely start to do things outside of school in that area,” senior Danielle Hirano said.
Since students are typically turning 16 or 17 around Junior year, it means that you are now able to apply for a part-time job. Whether it’s your financial situation or because you want to start saving money or taking on more responsibility, you might consider applying for a job your junior year.
“If your parents are willing to pay for your stuff and you just want a job because you want money to spend on unnecessary things, I would not recommend getting a job unless your financial situation depends on it because what you’re doing in school and applying for scholarships is going to get you more money than a job will. If you invest more time on applying for scholarships, in the end it will pay off more,” Hirano said.
However, there are benefits to having a job, such as learning about job applications, learning about customer service and the work environment. Also, balancing your time between school, extra-curricular activities and a job teaches responsibility and time management.
Still, applying for a job is something you should discuss with your parents and/or counselor to see if it’s best for your personal situation.
Time management and self-motivation is something that you will need to excel at during your junior year. Because you are getting older, teachers aren’t always on your case about homework and studying. It’s on you to either procrastinate and not do well on the tests or keep up on homework and the material covered in class.
“Junior year is a really self-motivated year, so it’s very easy to slack off or get behind. Make sure to keep up on school work even though you’re not always required to study the material,” Mata said.
“[If] you’re taking AP classes or other difficult classes, you should be frequently studying so that at the end of year you’re not trying to cram and remember a lot of information you probably should have been studying all along,” she continued.
It’s incredibly easy to get demotivated your junior year because you might get influenced by your senior friends who are graduating and have an easier work load. However, it’s important for juniors to keep in mind that even though this might be the most challenging year, that it is also the most rewarding school year in the long run.