For many of you, junior year of high school is just a month away. It’s an exciting time (you’re almost done with high school!), but we won’t pretend it’s not also challenging. In fact, many would argue that the 11th grade is maybe the most difficult stage of your K-12 education.
Why? Junior year is a year of milestones that kick off the transition from high school to college and beyond. Many of you will start driving, take the SATs or ACTs, enroll in AP classes, start thinking about where you want to go to college and have to start answering, more seriously, the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Not to mention the added stress of homecoming, prom, dealing with friends, romantic interests, new teachers, parents, siblings, a new job, etc.
It sounds like a lot, and you’re probably wondering how the heck you’re going to get through it all. But never fear: you can make it! How do we know? Because we’ve ALL been there. There are ways you can ace this year and emerge victorious. If we can do it, so can you!
Here are some key ways to keep your head above water and survive junior year of high school.
Get your driver license as soon as you can
Once the school year starts, you’ll find that everything that’s not school or college-related will fall by the wayside. Don’t procrastinate on getting your driver license, even if that means taking drivers ed over the summer. If you’ve missed the summer mark already, plan on taking it as early as you’re able to in the fall.
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Be smart about SAT/ACT prep
Start studying as soon as you can, even if it’s little by little! If you’re not sure where in the world to start, we highly recommend taking a test prep course – we personally love Kaplan, which guarantees you will get a higher test score or get your money back! They have in-person classes if you’re more of a face-to-face person, but they also have online courses that can fit into your busy schedule.
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Only keep what you love
Chances are that your parents encouraged you to do every possible extracurricular and after-school activity. If you’re still dividing your time between your school work, yearbook, theatre, orchestra, track, student council, etc., it’s time to narrow it down. Stick to just one or two things that you really want to invest your time in – and that you actually love. Your grades (and your mental health) will thank you.
Take care of yourself
It’s happened to the best of us: One day, you’ll be sitting there trying to figure out your Physics AP homework on circuits, and you’ll just start crying and you won’t know why. (No one else? Just me? Okay…)
It is so, so important to take care of your mental and physical health. Sleep. Get as much sleep as you can. All nighters are evil and will deplete you (and believe us, there are plenty of all-nighters to be had once you hit college).
Eat well, and nutritiously. Take advantage of the fact that you still have free, delicious food that someone else makes for you.
Hang out with your friends. Laugh. Have fun. Take advantage of your free time, and do things that make you happy.
Be nice to your teachers
Because most colleges ask for recommendations from two to three teachers, your teachers and counselors are going to be some of your best friends as you start applying next year.
Get to know your teachers now and give them a chance to get to know you. Your teachers will likely have to write 10 to 20 recommendation letters come next fall – so it can’t hurt to really stand out and be memorable. It’s much easier for them to write something personalized to you when they know you and can truly speak about your goals and how you’re working to reach those goals.
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