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.


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?

Everything Else

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!

XO, Nicole


  1. This was so helpful! I'm in my sophomore year of high school, so I still have some time before junior year, but it's nice to know what to expect for the future.

    Rebecca | sunnyrebecca.blogspot.com


  2. Congrats on making it through your first year of college! That is super exciting. I am super excited for my senior year (once I finish the college apps!). Thank you, I feel so lucky to have such a clear path and direction compared to some of my peers. You still have time to figure something out! And its better to take your time and pick something you're truly invested in and love then jumping into a field that you may end up hating. Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it! XO, Nicole


  3. Ah, thank you so much!!! WOW, that is crazy. I seriously can't think about doing junior year over again… but we made it 🙂 We can totally pretend standardized test don't exist, I am totallllllly okay with that. Good luck with applying to grad school, that must be so exciting!!! (well, as exciting as applications can get… I know the feeling) Thanks for the comment and I will def reach out if I have any questions!! XO, Nicole


  4. Yes!!!! It is so hard to balance everything with that much going on. That is awesome about all your AP credits!! I'm trying to use them where I can, and most of the schools I am applying to accept AP 4's and 5's, which is great. Yeah, I know that about ACT/SAT senior year. I just REALLY wanted to be done with it junior year so it wasn't something I had to keep up with all summer (trying to knock out most of my college apps before school starts, plus AP summer work!). PSAT was mandatory at my school so I honestly kind of forgot about it because we did it during school hours. That is really awesome about National Merits, but I didn't even start any kind of SAT prep until after the PSAT, so I basically took it cold with okay, but not National Merit results.

    I've taken a bunch of precollege classes at FIT and Drexel for fashion merchandising and I've been loving it so far. I am so excited to start studying it all the time in college!!! So far, the applying hasn't been that bad (well, it hasn't officially started until tomorrow… yikes!). Thank you SO much for this comment. I love getting long comments so this was so fun for me to read!! I will definitely be sure to reach out if I have any questions. Thanks again for commenting 🙂 XO, Nicole


  5. Junior year of high school was my most difficult academic year thus far! I've now made it safely through my freshman year of college and am so excited to start my sophomore year in a month 🙂 Congratulations for getting through what I think is the most intense year of high school! Enjoy your senior year! I'm really glad that you're enjoying your classes and that you know what you want to study in college. I'm still not quite sure about that one yet haha. I came in having an idea of what I wanted to do, but I've been exposed to so many more awesome things that it's getting harder to choose! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's


  6. I really really love this post!! I just completed my junior year too, but junior year of college, lol! Almost everything you went through totally applied to my year in college – except thinking about the GREs instead of the SATs (omg can we just pretend that standardized tests don't exist, orrrrr!?) and grad schools to apply to instead of undergrad! It's so funny to me how even though I'm a few years older, we went through such similarities this past year! :p If you ever have any questions about college life or applying or anything like that, deff feel free to reach out! <3

    xoxo, Brooke ( http://www.ThePinkLyme.com )


  7. Oh man, junior year was a never-ending mess for me. Everything you mentioned is so important! My school had such a huge focus on AP classes that it was frowned upon to be in less than 4 your senior year. I took 4 APs junior year, and it was SO hard to balance band + clubs + everything else. Honestly I don't know how I made it out alive, haha.

    A lot of state schools take AP classes into consideration. I'm glad my high school had such an emphasis on them, because I was able to come in with 44 credit hours! That's a TON of time and money saved, and I knocked out all of my general education classes. However, private schools don't offer as much credit for AP, but they use them in the application process.

    Most colleges will also take ACT/SAT scores from your senior year. I think I took my last standardized test in October or November, and the schools I applied for still accepted it. Don't forget about the PSAT!!! I didn't realize how big of a deal it was until it was too late. If you're a National Merit Scholar, a TON of schools will offer you scholarships. Mine gives full tuition + housing + a free iPad or laptop to National Merits, haha.

    Fashion merchandising is so cool! I have a few friends majoring in Fashion Retail, and they love it. I love seeing what they make in their Apparel Construction class!

    The college application is long and hard, but in retrospect, I had a lot of fun. It's important to stay organized and keep deadlines in mind. Wow, this was a really long comment, sorry haha! I get really excited about college applications and stuff. Don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything! I help my friends apply to college every year, and I'm writing a blog post series about college applications this fall 🙂

    crazy scarf girl


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