Attention Juniors: Words of Wisdom


photo courtesy of Pramod Mamillapalli

Junior year: “the worst year of your life.” With IB tests, SATs, and strenuous classes, it’s not hard to realize how it got its name. As someone who was once a junior, I’ve been through it all – the tests, managing grades, etc. I always wished that someone would have warned be about what I was getting myself into, but many emotional breakdowns later, I have some advice for current and future 11th graders so that they’ll have a somewhat of a memorable and less stress-inducing junior year.

1. Stay after school if you need extra help
I cannot stress this enough. Last year alone, I stayed after school more times than my 2 previous years combined. If you are going the IB route, then your schedule probably consists of classes such as HOA, IB Math SL/HL, IB Physics 1, IB English, a language, and a couple of electives. These classes are definitely not a walk in the park. In class, you are not going to understand everything that is being taught, so staying after with a teacher is vital. Before you decide to stay after school though, make sure you check with your teacher to see what their after-school schedule is like, because chances are, they’re not going to be staying after school everyday. This is also a great way to get to know your teacher better and for your teacher to know you better as a student and as a person. Having a strong student-teacher relationship can be beneficial in the future when you are stressing out over other class. They will most probably let you off the hook if they know that you’re a hard worker and that you pay attention in class. It is also useful when you are looking for college recommendation letters. A teacher that knows you well will write a good letter.

2. Manage your time wisely
You are going to get tons of homework your junior year. There will come a time when you have so much homework after school, and it will be hard to finish it all in time for your next class. That’s where time management comes in to the picture. Prioritizing what work is the most important and needs to be done first will help you finish everything in time. While doing homework, avoid distractions such as your phone, laptop, and T.V., because the time wasted on these devices could be used to get your work done. Also, Seahawk Seminar is your friend. I get it, there are going to be times where you are not able to finish your homework the day, so somehow, you are going to need to finish it before it’s due. Instead of goofing off during SS, use it for what it is for and finish as much work as you can during that time. Even if you don’t have homework that urgently needs to be done, start working on next class’s homework so that you won’t have much to do after school. Getting sleep is important; if you have so much homework that you can’t sleep till 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning, you are not going to be able to function throughout the school day.

3. Know what you are capable of
Just because everyone you know is aiming for the IB Diploma does not mean that you have to aim for it too. If you know you are capable of handling all those hard classes, IB tests, and after school activities, then go for it, but not everyone is capable of doing so, and that’s okay. As someone who is not going for the IB Diploma, I always see my friends struggling to manage school work and their after school activities, and I for one am glad that I don’t have to deal with that. Although I am not going for the IB Diploma, I am taking some IB classes to challenges myself. Colleges love to see that you have taken hard classes in subjects you are good at.

4. Think beyond high school
As someone who was once a junior, a year seems like an eternity, but in reality, it is only a small part of your entire life. Yes, it’s important to worry about the present, but you also have to be constantly thinking about your future. It is never too early to start thinking about what colleges you want to apply to and what career path you would like to take. Every year, colleges come from across the country to visit South Lakes and get students interested about their schools. Even as a junior, make sure you go to some of the college visits for colleges you are interested in. Even if you don’t think you are interested in a college, visit them anyways because you may become interested afterwards. If you are not going the IB route, you will have room for more electives. I would suggest taking electives that relate to a future job you are interested in. For example, take Journalism if you are interested in becoming a journalist. if you are interested in programming, take computer science. If you are interested in architecture and design, taking engineering drawing. Through these electives, you will gain valuable experience before you go to college.

5. Savor the moment
Finally, the last advice I would like to give for juniors is to savor the moment. While it easy to get lost in the all the school work, SATs, college prep, and whatnot, it is important to enjoy your junior year as much as possible. Trust me, life is only going to get more difficult from there, and once you become an adult, you will realize that the challenges of junior year are nothing compared to the challenges of adulthood. Soon, taxes, maintaining a job, paying off student debt, and other adult responsibilities will replace the spots that were once occupied by junior year struggles. This is not to scare you, but to show you that you should enjoy life while you still a teenager. When you overlook what you hate about junior year, you will realize that there is more to it than that. Hang out with friends and spend time doing the things you love.