Ah, the infamous junior year of high school. Upperclassman. AP classes. All the standardized testing. Living the dream, really.
But in all seriousness, junior year is a big deal. It’s your last chance to show colleges what you’ve got. Now, you can look at that in a couple different lights: as stress, or as a challenge you will overcome and succeed. I choose to look at it as the latter. However, I’m not going to kid myself by saying that there won’t be stress involved, there certainly has been and will be.
I’ll begin by letting you all know what I have in store for me this year: I’m a member of 10 clubs, two of which I am an officer of. I’ll be doing a whole post on clubs and managing extracurricular activities in the future as I get into a good schedule with them. I’m taking 4 AP classes and two honors classes (APs include AP English Language and Composition, AP Physics, AP Art History, and AP U.S. History; honors classes include Honors German 5/6 and Honors Pre-Calculus/Trigonometry). I am doing college prep through the Student Expedition Program, and I am of course running my own business in addition to school-related things.
As you can see, I’ve got quite a bit on my plate for this year. However, I’m going into the year with excitement for each thing I’m doing. I’ve noticed that as I transition into junior year, there’s a big disparity between junior and freshman/sophomore year. Teachers don’t waste any time in getting started, so you need to be prepared to jump right in. A lot of the learning is up to the student now, rather than all in-class. Many of my classes are now mostly lecture-based, rather than interactive learning. Three of my six classes are mostly lecture-based: AP Physics 1, AP U.S. History, and AP Art History. Planning has more than ever become critical – teachers don’t remind you of assignments/tests/quizzes as much as they used to.
I’ve noticed one major shift in my attitude toward academics this year: I’m viewing my classes as topics to study, rather than classes to take. I’m examining the function of each class, and thinking of each as more of an independent study that I want to learn. This has, in turn, made me feel more zealous and immersed in my study of each subject, which has helped me motivate myself. The workload is anything but light, so it helps to look forward to learning the material when you have hours to accomplish. Breaking it up has been even more imperative to my learning this year than it has in previous years, and studying ahead has helped me to manage stress and perform well so far.
I’m feeling pretty confident about most of my classes thus far this school year – I’m keeping up with my reading and assignments for all classes, and the only class I’m having conceptual problems with at the moment is Physics, so I’m taking the initiative to go into after-school tutoring each Thursday to make sure that I don’t fall behind. This struggle has been a bit difficult for me, because I usually understand topics fairly easily if I give them the amount of time and attention it deserves, but in this case it’s just not clicking. My advice to those of you in my boat is to not stop trying, get help from other students, as well as take advantage of tutoring if it’s available, read the text, watch videos if that’s helpful to you, and just keep working at it and stay in pace with the class. If the topic doesn’t stick right away, just keep trying and approach the topic from different angles until it begins to make sense.
Lists have become another imperative tool for me so far – lists of scholarships to apply to, club lists, to do lists, event lists, etc. There’s a lot of information to remember, and the more I can get it out of my head, the less overwhelmed I feel. I’ve found that it’s easiest for me to be productive and reduce overwhelm when I can automate things. What I mean by that is to have my plan laid out for me: all of my to do’s, events, reminders, and schedule pre-determined so that I don’t have to worry about what I’m doing and when throughout the day. It ensures that I will accomplish everything I set out to do, and I won’t miss anything important.
The final note I want to make is regarding wellness. In the very beginning, I didn’t pay much attention to it, and I suffered. I quickly realized that if I don’t take active care of myself each day, with as much stuff I have going on, I will quickly crumble. Implementing things like no-phone time, listening to music, reading a book, or even just taking deep breaths throughout the day have helped me to stay sane. If I don’t take the time to slow down, my focus will waver and everything I do will be sub-par. Don’t make this mistake: take care of yourself, get enough sleep, eat right, drink plenty of water, and treat yourself to doing your nails or putting on a mud mask every Sunday night (that’s a new tradition I started with myself). Also, don’t isolate yourself: go out and make plans with friends – have fun and make the most of your experience. High school is a crazy time, and although you want to succeed, when you look back in 20 years, you’ll remember the inside jokes you had with friends more than that A you got on an APUSH test.
Have fun, study smart, and stay well my friends. I look forward to sharing more about my junior year with you as the year progresses. Let me know if you have any questions you want me to answer in my next update, I’ll be doing a Q&A!