Junior year is known as the most difficult year of your high school career. As the last full year before college applications, along with the SAT or ACT, overwhelming extracurriculars, and more, it can feel like a lot of pressure. However, it is certainly manageable and you will get through it. Here’s a step by step plan to make your junior year a bit more manageable:
Junior Year Timeline
Prepare for SAT/ACT
The summer prior to your busy junior is perfect for completing the bulk of studying for the standardized test of your choosing. Whether it’s with a tutoring service or self-study, push yourself to prioritize studying for the SAT/ACT, as checking the test off of your checklist as soon as possible will greatly decrease your stress levels.
Get ahead on classes/review work
Before school begins, make sure to at least look at the curriculum to get a general idea of the topics you will be learning. If you have time, review math skills from your previous classes, review science basics, and get ahead on any assigned literature for your English classes.
Work on GPA - Your priority throughout your junior year should be improving or maintaining your GPA. Make sure to talk to your teachers if you are struggling; don’t suffer in silence!
Extracurriculars - Junior year is the perfect time to advance your involvement in activities. Whether it’s applying for leadership positions or forming new clubs, show your dedication to the activities you are passionate about by earning a higher position.
Establish relationships with teachers - Your letter of recommendations are most likely going to be from teachers in your junior year, so it is vital that you create good relationships with them. Remember, first impressions count! Don’t suck up to your teachers, but be pleasant and participate in class.
Continue maintaining GPA or improve if needed
Study for midterms - Midterms are a great way to boost your grades if your first semester grades are not as high as you would like them to be. Don’t procrastinate and make sure to create a study schedule ahead of time, so you are not cramming in a panic an hour before your exam.
Continue keeping up with extracurriculars
Continue developing relationships with teachers
Apply for summer programs - During the winter is when most applications for summer programs will be released. Take some time during your school vacations to research any programs or internships you are interested in and work hard on these applications. Some programs are known for being highly selective, so if you are planning on applying to those, it can’t hurt to have a couple options.
Finish the year strong! - Congrats! You’ve made it to the end of the year! Check in with your grades and if you are in need of a small boost, reach out to your teachers to see if there are any opportunities for extra credit. Remember, some teachers don’t allow extra credit, and you should respect their policies. However, it is never wrong to politely ask if they do offer any.
Take AP exams - Most AP exams are in early May, about a month before finals. Make sure to take some practice AP exams, which can be found on College Board’s website. Don’t forget to study ahead of time, especially if you are taking multiple APs and have exams within the same week, or maybe even day.
End on a high note with teachers - Just because the school year is over, doesn’t mean you have to stop communicating with your teachers. If you have a teacher that you especially like and are planning on asking for a letter of recommendation, make sure to give them a gift or write them a card, demonstrating your appreciation for them and their class.
Work on essays - By the time the school year starts, you are going to be busy with college applications, so do yourself a huge favor and work on your essays during the summer— you will thank yourself greatly. Whether it’s coming up with ideas or outlines for your essays, or even writing a rough draft, spending even a little bit of time and energy on your essays will make the fall of your senior year run much more smoothly.
Try to fill in applications as much as possible - Again, once school begins, it’ll be difficult to make time for your college applications. That is why it is so important to work ahead. Make sure you have all of your documents organized and have the answers to all of the administrative information. Also, start thinking about your responses to the short answer questions on the Common App; a common question is “Why do you want to attend this school?”
If possible, keep in contact with teachers! - Reach out to your teacher at least once during the summer, asking them about their summers and catching up. This will keep you in their minds throughout the summer, so by the time school rolls around again, you will have already communicated, thus creating a closer relationship.
Continue studying for SAT/ACT if needed
Junior year can feel like a lot, and it is! However, taking one step at a time and focusing on staying in the moment, rather than looking at the big picture, will help you from getting too overwhelmed. Remember, work one day at a time and you will get through this. Best of luck on your junior year!
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