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Dealing With Junior Year Stress
Your junior year of high school is an important, busy time. You have a lot of responsibilities to juggle: courses, standardized tests, and extracurriculars, to name a few. On top of that, you’re start to think about preparing to apply to college.
It doesn’t have to be stressful though. With proper planning and the right attitude, you can get through junior year without your nerves getting the best of you. Read on for our advice on how to keep your cool.
Make a Plan
Start planning and doing your college research now. Senior year is going to be especially hectic, but if you lay the groundwork now, you’ll be in better shape to focus on completing applications and other commitments when senior year rolls around. By the end of junior year, you should have a list of 6-10 colleges to send applications. Check out Seven Tips for Creating Your College List and 10 Considerations for Making Your College List for advice on how to form it.
Since you don’t actually have to apply junior year, focus on gathering research, visiting campuses, looking online, and going to college fairs. At this point, you should be trying to figure out what you want in a college and finding a good fit, meaning you could see yourself thriving and fitting in at a given school.
Try Not to Overextend
Planning and organization are key to keeping your stress low and confidence high during your junior year. Remember that the college process is a marathon, not a sprint, and there are many steps to keep in mind.
Focus on academics first. This year, you’re probably taking more honors and AP courses than you did as an underclassman, and the work is likely challenging. Choose wisely, taking higher level courses in your best subjects. If you’re having trouble with a particular class—or multiple classes—create a plan for getting back on track. This might include a tutor, extra help from your teacher, or other options. Check out What If I Just Can’t Bring up My Grade in That One Challenging Class? for more ideas for improving your performance in a particular subject.
Also focus on 2-3 extracurriculars, particularly ones to which you’ve demonstrated a solid commitment. Now is not a good time to add more filler activities; adcoms will see through you if you’re just trying to pad your resume. Read A Guide to Extracurricular Activities: Grade 11 for more advice on honing your extracurricular profile.
Balancing your academic, extracurricular, and social lives may be a struggle, but try to take some time to enjoy high school. Consider aspects of your life that you may not quantify on your college applications, but add a lot to your personal happiness, such as your psychological and physical health and friends and family. Being Well: How to Manage Stress and Cultivate Mental Health in High School has plenty of tips for taking care of yourself. Organization strategies, such as using planners and creating a schedule, can help you balance the different aspects of your life.
Ask for Help
College is a transitional time. Start easing into this new phase of your life now by demonstrating independence. That might include leading your own college search and setting boundaries with your parents about the amount of help you expect or need during the college process.
But remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Just because you’re preparing for a new stage and entering young adulthood doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Try to find a balance with your parents. You’ll need them for some aspects of the college process, such as completing financial aid forms.
It’s also okay to ask your parents, as well as other adults like teachers, for help with your applications. For instance, you might ask them to read over your essays. Still, remember that you’re leading the charge. Setting the tone for this balance now will save both of you a lot of stress and arguments.
If you’ve having disagreements with your parents about your future, try resolving them as adults. Check out What If My Parents and I Have Different Visions for College? for some advice on how to discuss these issues. You could also ask your guidance counselor or a teacher for help explaining the college process to your parents and finding a good balance.
Remember that your parents are on your team and have your current and future interests at heart. Chances are, they’ll welcome the opportunity to help you or give advice. All you have to do is ask!
Junior year doesn’t have to be stressful. Creating a plan and knowing whom and when to ask for help can help you make it through the year with confidence. Laying the groundwork for college season next year will give you a big leg up on your applications, and you’ll be glad you did it. For more advice on having a successful junior year, check out CollegeVine’s posts:
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