Letter to Future Juniors

Rian Stallbaumer

Dear future juniors:

Live every day to the fullest this summer, because you’ll miss your free time more than ever during junior year. You’ve heard repeatedly that junior year is the hardest year, and yes, this is usually true (at least academically). But before you get anxious about all the impending terrors of junior year on the horizon, let’s put the year ahead of you in perspective. There’s positive aspects involved with junior year too.

Most people you ask will say that the beginning of junior year is the hardest, especially for AP and honors classes. Teachers like to weed out those who don’t truly have the work ethic for their courses, so be sure to know what you’re in for if you’re signed up for advanced courses.  Along with taking honors or AP courses will come your eventual and reluctant acceptance of receiving your first B– which is OKAY. The number one thing to remember during these academic endeavors is that your worth is not truly measured by grades, so don’t let yourself be labeled by a letter or percentage. Remember the important things in your life outside of school and academics; It’s okay that not everyone is a natural all-A student.

When second semester arrives, I guarantee you will have learned how each class works and you will become more comfortable in each course. But, you’ll wish you had known these things earlier in the year when you needed that 88 to be a 90. Procrastination will progress to the point that it isn’t even procrastination anymore– instead, you just don’t do the task at all. I know it’s nearly impossible, but try your best not to procrastinate. Sitting down at 10 pm to start the 8 hours worth of homework your teachers have so lovingly given to you a few days before is not always the best approach to getting it done well and on time.

One positive thing I experienced junior year was how quickly it went by. (Okay, it doesn’t feel so fast when you’re in the middle of it, but looking back on all that you’ve accomplished up to whatever point you’re at will always make you feel a teensy bit better.) I found that I was so focused on the present week– what assignments I needed to have done and what tests I needed to study for– that I didn’t spend my time waiting and waiting for a certain time in the future to come. Summer is in 2 days?!? I didn’t even realize that; I’ve been so focused on preparing for my last few finals. See what I mean? That’s what junior year is like: all the approaching assignments and tests and breaks and everything you ever anxiously wait for will abruptly smack you in the face and then run out the back door a moment later, and then all of a sudden it’s late May and you’re writing one last story for one last grade in one last class the night before the last day of your junior year. My point is, it does end. It’s temporary. Remember this as you go through your junior year. Each day you get through is another step closer. Reward yourself for what you have accomplished; your peers and teachers should understand that it’s hard.

Now, for those teachers who don’t seem to understand that you, in fact, have 6 OTHER CLASSES to deal with outside of theirs, have patience– with your teacher and yourself.  Unfortunately, not everyone understands the overwhelming circumstances that come with junior year, and you’ve just gotta deal with it. The system isn’t perfect, and junior year especially you will be forced to maneuver your way through an obstacle course of standardized tests that only follow the mold of a specific type of student. If you don’t fit into that mold, don’t sweat it. You can still excel in other areas. Take the ACT multiple times, do your best, and then move on. Your future doesn’t have to be determined by ACT or AP scores.

Sometimes, outside circumstances and conditions make it very hard to complete what you’re supposed to on time, and your teachers should be understanding of of this. Don’t crawl into a hole and think that you’re alone, because you aren’t. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When you find yourself completely overwhelmed by all the work you need to do, work hard, but set a limit.  Work until 11 or midnight and then go to bed. Sleep is vital to your success, and your health should absolutely come first. Put your phone in a different room (No, not just face-down on the table, but completely out of reach). Eliminating this distraction will allow you to be more productive in a shorter amount of time, but you can still take breaks to snapchat an ugly selfie captioned “literally have so much hw rn” to your bff’s if your survival absolutely depends on it.

Outside of academics, other hardships will arise, as they will any other time in life. However, these hardships may seem magnified when they are combined with the burdens junior year weighs on you. You may find that your friend circle may shrink a bit. If so, cherish the close friends you have and be there for each other throughout junior year hardships; you’ll find that your close friendships will become much more important to you during this time. Appreciate all the friends you have in your life, but try to be understanding of others who don’t seem to be such great friends anymore. They have to deal with junior year too, and everyone has a different way of coping. Focus more on being a good friend to others rather than making people be good friends to you. I can’t speak much more in depth on the social aspect of junior year, as everyone will have a unique experience.

Overall, yeah. Junior year sucks. But you’ll get through it. Remember the positive things. Maybe you’ll be inducted into the National Honor Society or have involvement in another club that makes happy. Maybe you’ll create new friendships or deepen the ones you have. Maybe you won’t get the score you want on the ACT, but you will discover a talent you have in another area. Focus on these talents, not your weaknesses. Remember that failing one test does not make you a failure. You aren’t alone no matter how alone you feel, and help is available. And lastly, it does end. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. So keep calm and carry on, future juniors, because before you know it you’ll be reading my letter for future seniors.