Looking back, freshman year was nothing like this junior nightmare
Last year around this time, I wrote about the lovely sophomore slump. Now that I look back, sophomore year wasn't that bad. I just had to learn how to cope with a lot of homework.
Last year around this time, I wrote about the lovely sophomore slump. Now that I look back, sophomore year wasn’t that bad. I just had to learn how to cope with a lot of homework.
The material I was learning in 10th grade wasn’t that hard. Algebra took a little work to learn and had long homework assignments. English 11 had material that was a bit of a challenge but the only hard part was the size of the assignments.
Chemistry took some work to get down but the homework assignments were not that bad. U.S. History was not a challenge for me even though I learned a lot; social studies classes are my strong suit. The workload was new to me, and I learned to cope.
Junior year is a bit more of an adjustment. Now sophomore year looks like a relaxing spa resort while I am at an army training camp. Junior year has several different factors that make it more stressful.
The biggest factor that makes junior year stressful is pressure. This is the year that colleges consider the most important; they look at grades and your sports performances if you want to participate in a sport in college. Junior year is the year for students to prove themselves, and the fear of not doing so is overwhelming. I am taking college courses at my high school to challenge myself and show colleges what I can do.
Along with the pressure, there is the upgraded workload. I thought that regular biology was hard. College biology is about 10 times harder.
The material is more challenging, there is way more to learn in one chapter, and it’s an interesting experience taking the tests, which cover three to five chapters each.
The funny thing is that though College Biology was the toughest class for me this semester, it is the college class I did the best in. The other ones, College Algebra and College Psychology, were quite different and challenging.
I know if I want to run track in college, I need to get my times down. Even if I didn’t want to, I would still want to get my times down. So there’s a lot of pressure to get my times down, and this is the year that colleges look at.
I know I can do it and am doing pretty well at finding the balance with training hard and doing schoolwork. I would most likely go insane if I didn’t have really hard workouts to take my stress out.
What has really set junior year apart for me is the fact that standardized tests are coming up. The ACT isn’t terrible but it does require a decent amount of preparation if you want to do really well.
SAT subject tests are completely different. I am going to have to learn a lot of new information ways to think. I am not looking forward to the immense amount of preparation I will have to do for those. Standardized tests are not fun to prepare for, but they are a very important factor in role in admissions, and I will take those SAT subject tests and do my best if it means I get into the colleges I want to go to.
Deciding which colleges are the best can be a little overwhelming. I have gone on one college tour and I loved it. I plan on going to more this spring and making up my mind for certain. The hard part is the admission rates of the colleges I like.
I can go to a state school that is not difficult to get into and graduate with a reasonable amount of debt, a state school that is difficult to get into and graduate with a lot of debt, a private school that is easy to get into and graduate with a lot of debt, or a private school that is hard to get into and has the best opportunities for my career and graduate with little debt.
I do not want to be burdened by debt when I graduate from college, and I want lots of opportunities to advance my career. So my logic is to work my butt off now, get into a selective school and graduate with little debt and a great start to a successful career. Sure, there are scholarships for those less selective schools and exceptions, but those are all uncertain and I’m not one to make decisions on things that might not happen.
My decision to try and get into a selective school has increased my stress level. However, I have realized that junior year is vital. This year in my life has caused me to take a real look at what is important.
I don’t have much free time so I only hang out with people I really want to spend time with. I make priorities, and spend lots of time on those priorities – and those priorities only. Spending a lot of time on these priorities has deepened my relationships, helped me grow spiritually and cut out a lot of unnecessary things in my life.
No year in high school (excluding freshman year) is easy. If we want to succeed, all of them - especially junior year - are necessary. They teach us what matters to us, what we are capable of and who we really are.
Holly McCamant is a junior at Frazee-Vergas High School.