I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Junior year was crazy for me, so I’m just going to dive right in. This post is going to be a mix of a reflection of my year, tips for rising juniors and everything in between.
AP Classes & Exams
I took AP Language & Composition and AP US History. I am interested in writing and history, so even though these classes were more difficult, I enjoyed going to class and the assignments were *more * bearable because I genuinely liked what I was learning about. Was this true 100% of the time? Not quite. There were some APUSH reading assignments that I would have preferred to not annotate. There were some rhetorical analyses that I wished would analyze themselves. But, generally, I liked those classes. The point is, in my opinion, you have to like the subject matter of the AP classes you take. Obviously, if you are looking to “impress” colleges (ugh) and you take 6 AP’s, you probably won’t like them all. That is your choice. My mindset is that since AP classes will be more work than honors or regular, I have to be somewhat interested in the topic so its not a major uphill battle all year.
Do you want me to talk about AP exams? They’re really just like finals, but formatted in a more specific way and if you do well, you might be able to get college credit for the grade. I studied here and there in the months leading up to the exams, but really buckled down in the last week or so before hand. Comment below, send me an email or tweet me if you want a more in-depth post about how to study/ approach AP exams. I’d be happy to post on it when AP exams for next year (yikes!!) get close.
SAT & ACT
Ugh. This is no fun. There is no way around them, and they’re no fun. You just have to accept that if you’re going to get anywhere these tests. I took both tests twice. Well, lets backtrack a little. FIRST, I took the PSAT my sophomore year as a baseline, and again junior year. After the PSAT scores came back my junior year, I started SAT prep. Here’s my first regret/ tip. I didn’t start any SAT prep until November-ish of my junior year. Start your test prep the summer BEFORE junior year. By the end of the year (May & June aka AP’s and finals) I was swamped because I was still taking these tests. I prepped for the SAT, took it once and THEN realized the ACT was the test for me. I took that in April and June. Regret/ tip #2: When you start your test prep, take one of each off the bat (SAT and ACT). Do each using a timer, all in one sitting as if it was the real test. See how your scores come out, if you are scoring a lot higher on one, then only focus on one! It will make your life SO much easier. If you want to hear about how I studied for both and what my prep was, shoot me an email!
Starting to think about College
This one is hard for me to write because I’m very lucky and know exactly what I want to do (fashion merchandising) and since there is a limited number of schools that offer a fashion merchandising program, my college search process is different than most. But I’ll give this a shot.
First, look at your GPA and test scores (if you’ve taken them yet) and see where you fall compared to some colleges. My school uses Naviance, but if you don’t have an online program, then stop by a bookstore, or Amazon, and pickup the latest Princeton Review book! Once you have a general idea of where you stand academically, look at some colleges and make some matches! You might want to start thinking about what type of college you want: big, small, campus, city, distance from home, etc. This is all a very personal process. It helped me so much to go on tours of the colleges to really get a feel for what you like. I dreamed of a certain school for years, then visited and was frankly unimpressed. As you tour, you’ll start to get a taste for what you’re looking for in a school and search for schools that have what you want. This was kind of all over the place, but I hope it was somewhat helpful?
Well, junior year is crazy. Between keeping the GPA up, prepping for SAT/ACT, AP classes, touring colleges… Organization is key to success. My planner, in all seriousness, is so important. I keep track of all dates, across the board—school, testing, extracurriculars, my job, appointments.. etc. If you don’t have a planner I strongly suggest it (see here& hereto prove it… I LOVE planners).
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. For me, some precalculus units were easy but others, not so much. I took advantage of the fact that my teacher offered to go over old tests, worksheets, practice problems etc. during lunch (my school has a block lunch where everyone eats at the same time). Sitting down one-on-one with my teacher helped my understanding so much was very helpful. Not only did it help my understanding, but it showed my teacher(s) that I really was putting in effort to do well and learn.
There will be breakdowns. There were some nights where I had so much to do and was so stressed out, I literally didn’t think it was possible to get it all done. I owe it to my mom for helping me out. Staying up with me past midnight when the printer broke, making me a midterms cake to stress-eat while studying, making sure I had everything I needed so I could do my best in school. But back to the point—there will be breakdowns. It happens. You WILL get over it. You WILL get past this week, month, year. It does end, I promise.
One night after a super stressful week, I made some collages (#wildfridaynight). One of people (celebrities, bloggers etc.) that I admire. I made one of quotes and photos I love from my Pinterest boards. I made one of a bunch of pictures from vacations, events, days etc. that I enjoyed and loved. The breath of positivity and motivation that came from these boards actually helped. I knew that if I was super stressed, I could look at the boards and say hey- these people worked super hard and look where they are now, hey- if I love these quotes about working hard and achieving my goals and dreams, I need to step it up and do as they say, or hey- look at all these awesome memories, friends and family members that I love who have my back and are supporting me. It may sound silly but having these collages helped strike inspiration and motivation when I needed them. Maybe collages aren’t quite your thing (if you’ve seen the way I organize my Pinterest, you know that collages are totally my jam). If they’re not, find something that is that you can use as a motivational tool when you need some.
Junior year is basically a balancing act. Balancing more than you ever have, but not more than you ever will. During certain times of the year, I was balancing more than others, but it was a learning experience. Now, I know where my limits are. I know my capabilities and how much I can handle while still giving my best to everything I do. In the end, I realized that while it was miserable at times, I did it. I can look back and know that I tried my best and accomplished something. Always remember hard pays off.
I hope this helped all rising juniors and other high school students. If anyone has more questions PLEASE feel free to comment below or shoot me an email! I’m more than happy to answer any questions. This post is a little different than usual but I hope you enjoyed it and/ or learned something. Let me know if you liked this kind of post and would want to see more. I’m always looking for post ideas and ways to change it up around here to keep it exciting 🙂
What is your biggest lesson you took away from this past (school) year? Share in the comments below!