by Anthony Basilone

Coming into junior year, I was constantly told by my siblings, parents, teachers, and other students that it was going to be the hardest year of high school. Dubbed as “the year of no sleep” by some, junior year was a source of much anxiety as I left sophomore year. As I began to sign up for college and AP courses, I was never sure how many I could handle and how many would prove to be too much. I knew the school year was going to be important, as it is the most important school year for the college application process and the threat of exams such as the SAT and ACT loomed over my head. Now I am more than halfway through junior year and I have learned a lot, but there are still things I wish I was told before making course selections and preparing for the hardest year of my life so far.  Below is a compilation of advice for incoming juniors from a few fellow current juniors and seniors.

  1. Sleep. Put the APUSH book down, put the math worksheet away, and turn off the physics review video. Have a set time every night when you go to sleep. Being on a strict sleep schedule may sound frivolous, but study after study has proven that over-studying and cramming are both ineffective and getting a good night’s rest improves academic performance.

  2. Talk to school counselors about which courses are the best for you. Do not feel pressured to take classes because your friends are taking them, or because they are the most rigorous and you think they will make your chances of getting into a prestigious college higher. Take any opportunity to take classes that interest you and courses you think you can excel in. Performing better in the classes you take is more impressive than performing at a subpar level in difficult classes.

  3. Sports, clubs, and extracurricular activities can still be enjoyed while taking difficult and time-consuming courses. As long as you have a sleep schedule and are good at managing time and staying organized, you should not quit sports and clubs because of the heavy workload.

  4. Take the SAT more than once if necessary. My friends and I have found that an effective way to tackle standardized tests effectively and to get the best score available is to take them once to practice and see how well you can do, and if you want your score to improve, take them again. You are not limited to taking these seemingly “life-defining” tests only once. Also, utilize tutors and after-school programs for review and attend extra help to perform at your best.

  5. Start college research now. If you are a sophomore, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to not wait until the last minute to begin college-searching, touring, and researching. You do not need to make any concrete decisions about which schools you want to go to, but having an idea of the type of school which you think fits you best and doing research on schools in this category can only help. Don’t wait until the end of junior year to begin this process.

Junior year is generally regarded as the hardest year of high school, and this is for a good reason. The workload is heavy, the amount of testing required increases significantly from sophomore year, and students usually find themselves staying awake all night to study. The amount of stress and pressure on a junior student can sometimes seem like too much, so I hope you can take these pieces of advice and use them wisely.