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Junior year: advice from a survivor

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

By Camille Caldera

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After completing my junior year, I’ve taken time to reflect on what many label the most difficult year of high school.

There’s no one thing that made junior year hard: it’s the combination of intense schoolwork, constant commitments to extracurricular activities and weekends spent preparing for standardized tests that became demanding after just a few weeks and only worsened as the months passed.

But over time, balancing these competing interests got easier as we picked up tips and tricks for how to survive. Incoming juniors, here are a few of mine:

First, and perhaps most importantly, find friends and stick with them. Make time for them and put in the effort to check up on them. It’s difficult not to get lost in work and activities, so finding the time to maintain valuable relationships is rewarding.

Even on the busiest days, I tried to take advantage of car rides between my commitments to catch up on texts and ask friends how they were coping. I never regretted using this time that way, even when it took the place of studying flashcards or taking a power nap.

Your friends and peers are best positioned to offer empathy and advice—both of which are invaluable—since they are going through the same experience,. Even quick conversations, just to commiserate or congratulate, make the experience more bearable.

Resist the temptation to compete with these friends, because it will only hurt everyone involved. Although the college search can feel like a competition between friends and classmates, it’s not. Admissions officers from public and private colleges and universities alike deny the existence of quotas for high schools.

Depending on friends rather than competing against them will help improve your mental health and wellness, which frequently produces more academic and personal success, as it did for me. I am confident that my friends’ and family’s support was what enabled me to succeed, and I can’t imagine going through junior year without that support.

Second, don’t sacrifice sleep. I made this mistake far too often: After a night of extracurricular activities and facing a list of difficult assignments, I would convince myself that I could manage to get just a few hours of sleep that night, or none at all.

Most nights, this resulted in me falling asleep on top of my work and scrambling to finish it the next day after a poor night of sleep. Even when I managed to stay awake—to “succeed”—my lack of sleep made the rest of my week so much more difficult.

Sleep is essential to one’s ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Not getting enough sleep can also cause forgetfulness, worsen acne and increase stress and anxiety, the NSF explains.

No junior needs to have an even more difficult time getting through the school day or any excess stress—or excess acne, for that matter.

Sacrificing sleep is a self-defeating task. Recognizing when it’s going to be a slow, unproductive night, choosing to get up early to finish work instead and discovering how to do the minimum amount of busywork possible are essential skills to survive junior year. And even if you have to leave assignments undone, that situation is preferable to the massive physical and mental toll that losing sleep takes.

The third and final piece of advice is to continue to live. Don’t deny yourself the things that make you happy, like reality television, singing, baking or even napping. You may want every moment to be a “productive” one and may feel guilty for taking breaks, but it is one of the smartest things you can do—the brain needs time to process and de-stress. And above all, you deserve to be happy.

Junior year is stressful because it’s essential to the college process, and many perceive college as necessary to have a good future. But the quality of the present matters, too.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And that requires you to stay healthy, stay smart and most of all, treat yourself kindly.

About the Writer
Camille Caldera, Online Copy Editor
306 total views, 2 views today Grade: 12 Interests: Politics, Medicine, Writing Why did you join the Black & White? I joined Black & White because journalism is important — informing the community is an essential role in any democracy. Why are you well suited to write/edit for your section or to perform your job? I am...
1 Comment

One Response to “Junior year: advice from a survivor”

  1. Mr. College on September 12th, 2017 10:25 am

    “I tried to take advantage of car rides between my commitments to catch up on texts and ask friends how they were coping. I never regretted using this time that way, even when it took the place of studying flashcards or taking a power nap.”

    LOL. Advice from a college junior: high school doesn’t matter that much. Enjoy it, hang out with your buds, and don’t stress about whether you’re studying enough flashcards or spending enough time writing debate cases or going to soccer practice. It’s only ever as stressful as you make it.


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