A reflection on junior year: it’s not all bad

By Ella Atsavapranee

Going into junior year, my anxiety level was at an all-time high. From what I had heard from upperclassmen, it would be a year filled with impossibly difficult classes, very little sleep and more than a few mental breakdowns. However, junior year wasn’t nearly as bad as people made it seem. Now as a senior, I can confidently say that it was my favorite year so far and that current juniors have a lot to look forward to.

By junior year, most students have finished many of their graduation requirements, so there’s more freedom in choosing classes that you actually enjoy. This means students have access to some of the best elective classes that are restricted to only juniors and seniors. Since people specifically choose to take these classes, I found that my classmates were more engaged and passionate about learning the subject.

Junior year was the first time I had more space in my schedule, so I took a wide variety of classes, from AP Chemistry to AP Comparative Government. These advanced classes go more in-depth and offer a taste of what a real college course might be like. I really enjoyed my schedule because I could take classes that I was genuinely interested in and knew I could succeed in. The classes were challenging, but I was more motivated to study, and as a result, it was my best year academically.

The hardest part about junior year for most people is time management. It’s definitely difficult at times to juggle school, extracurriculars and studying for standardized tests. But by junior year, most students know how to study efficiently, which makes completing homework assignments and studying for classes more manageable than in previous years.

In the short term, it’s important to keep up with school and other commitments so the work doesn’t build up later. In the long term, it’s helpful to plan for the whole school year. I planned to take my standardized tests ahead of time so that they were spread out and didn’t fall on the times when I had the most schoolwork or was studying for AP exams. Since I scheduled my time carefully, I never felt that my workload was unmanageable.

There’s a lot of unnecessary stress about the “dreaded” junior year. In reality, junior year is a unique time to discover what you’re truly passionate about both in and out of school. You can focus on doing well in school without the senior year stress of completing college applications. Junior year is when you start thinking about the future, but senior year is when you actually have to worry about it.