Junior year is a crucial year. It’s the time of your academic career when everything starts to matter more. Gone are the halcyon days of freshman and sophomore years, when college seemed light years away. Suddenly, college is a real thought and grades and test scores become very important. While this time can produce stress, staying organized and being prepared to navigate through it can help make the process smooth and stress-free. Some of the biggest worries for students and parents during this year are:
Standardized Tests: Figure out what test(s) to take and when. Keep your athletic and/or extra-curricular schedules in mind and be sure to pick test dates that give you an optimal chance to prepare. Contact counselors and tutoring centers to help you decide how to manage this part of the process. Take a diagnostic test to help determine if you should lean toward the ACT, the SAT, or both.
College Visits: Junior year is a perfect time to visit colleges. As you are beginning to seriously consider where you’re going to spend the next four years of your life, this is your opportunity to take advantage of school breaks, weekends, and holidays to see colleges, walk the campuses, take the tours, speak to students and admissions people, and begin to put together a list of your top schools. This is also a prime time to contact a college advisor or counselor to help you through this daunting process.
Schoolwork: Amid all the college stuff, it’s easy to lose focus on something else that is important: your grades. Obviously, your GPA will be an important component of your college application, so it is vital not to let this slip as you become immersed in the college process. It’s easier said than done, but it’s important to stay organized, keep a calendar of your assignments, and don’t procrastinate. Stay ahead of everything, and you’ll be able to fit it all in nicely.
AP Tests: These pop up in the spring of your junior year, just as you’re taking standardized tests and feeling the crunch of finals. Be sure to pay attention to any reviews your teacher offers, and take advantage of tutoring if you are nervous about the exam. Resources for all AP tests abound, so be sure to exploit them. In fact, the College Board devotes an entire section of its website to AP testing: http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/home, and you can find many practice materials here.
Prom: We’ve devoted a lot of words so far to the academic elements of junior year, but there is definitely a social component and it’s also important. Junior prom is your first prom, and it’s an exciting social event. Again, this will occur in the spring and there will be a lot of other stuff going on, so stay organized, keep all your academic stuff in line, and have a great time. It can truly be an unforgettable experience and a defining moment of your junior year and your high school career.
Everything Else: In addition to everything we’ve already mentioned, you may also be involved in sports, arts, clubs, jobs, volunteering, or a combination of all of these. Friends, this is junior year. It’s hectic but rewarding. As challenging as it may seem when it begins, a little organization, planning, and diligence can help you navigate through it.
Written by Phil Lane