Surviving Junior Year in High School: 7 Tips for Success

surviving-junior-year-in-high-schoolJunior year is an imperative time in a high school student’s life—and, of course, it’s a stressful one. It is known as the most important year for college applications, making your college readiness and commitment to your studies essential to your future success. No pressure, right? If you’re looking to alleviate some of the inevitable stress you may face—and why wouldn’t you?—We have seven tips that may do the trick.

How to prepare for your junior year in high school

Tip #1: Stay organized.

Since junior year is the official start of AP courses, college brochures, and standardized-test prep material, you’ll be happy you started organizing this important information as soon as it arrives. To do so, make sure you have all the school supplies you need, and then some. In addition to keeping external materials straight, your binder may be bursting with class assignments. If it gets too full, transfer old material to a binder you can keep at home. And remember, organization doesn’t stop at the tangible. Be sure to create email tabs and folders on your computer to avoid misplacing important documents.

Tip #2: Stay focused on your studies.

While finding a date for junior prom may feel like the most important task to accomplish, it’s important to stay focused on your future. And since junior year is such an important time in your high school career, it’s easy to fall behind in your academics. If you find yourself struggling in your courses, seek help immediately. Getting the academic support you need will help you stay focused on your present and future success.

Tip #3: Maintain balance.

When it comes to your transcript, it’s important that you demonstrate balance. Have you participated in extracurricular activities? How about community projects? Were you committed to a few specific activities, or did you just dabble in lots of different programs? While variety is essential, your commitment to a few activities can demonstrate leadership more effectively than participating in too many activities for a short period of time.

Tip #4: Start preparing for college.

Junior year is a perfect time to get serious about your college search. Start by outlining your goals for the future and research what types of colleges can help you fulfill those goals. Once you have a couple of ideas in mind, set up a meeting with your high school counselor to review your interests. CollegeBoard is also a great resource for college planning, research, and much more.

Tip #5: Start your SAT and/or ACT prep.

The SAT and ACT are designed to evaluate your academic readiness for higher education, and some students take them as early as January. Good news: You have all fall to prepare, and there are many ways you can do so. CollegeBoard offers both free and affordable ways to practice. It’s also a good idea to check with your school counselor about any test-prep workshops available at your school.

Tip #6: Don’t procrastinate.

Procrastinating is one of the most dangerous habits you can acquire in school; don’t let it get the best of you. In most cases, teachers will hand out a syllabus on the first day of class, outlining important dates, deadlines, and grading criteria. Be sure to mark assignment due dates on your calendar so that you can stay on top of your coursework. Remember that it will be much harder to overcome the time you lost procrastinating than just motivating yourself to complete your work on schedule.

Tip #7: Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses.

This is a paramount time in your academic career and the perfect opportunity to hone in on your interests, whether they involve extracurricular activities or additional AP courses. Use your junior year to strengthen your skills and minimize your weaknesses. For instance, if you’re struggling in a course you know you’ll need in college, get help now so that you won’t need to catch up later, when your schedule may be even more challenging.