Gearing up for Junior Year

Published Thursday, June 30, 2011 by Katie

The infamous Junior Year. If you have just finished your sophomore year in high school, you must confront this ordeal in September. But, in reality, junior year is not that bad. Sure, you may be taking multiple APs, the SATs are right around the corner, and your parents and teachers are constantly stressing the importance of junior year grades. But, with a couple of tips, you can endure the various junior year challenges.
1. Take a vacation before junior year. Being such dedicated, hardworking students, chances are you have spent your summer doing something academic. To avoid school fatigue—which at my school we named “junioritis”—taking a mental break from studying is highly advisable. So, separate yourself from academics, if only for a couple of days. Take a hike on a nature trail. Go to the beach. Spend a day reading outside. Just get your mind off of school for a few days, so that your mind is fresh and ready to go on the first day of school.
2. Figure out how to disconnect your computer from the internet. In general, multitasking doesn’t work very well. Facebook and Gmail are distracting, as are Hulu and YouTube. You will probably get more done by doing a solid hour of work, then going on Facebook for half an hour, that you would if you had spent that hour and a half multitasking. I have known people who would spend four hours doing homework for one class, just because they got distracted by Facebook. I’ve also know people who got distracted watching Hulu, only realizing around 9:00 that they hadn’t finished any of their four hours of homework. Don’t be one of those people.
3. Do allow yourself to take breaks. If you try to work for four hours straight, by hour four you will be extremely unproductive due to mental exhaustion. Take breaks every so often—for example, every hour or hour and a half—but don’t let those breaks drag on for hours.
4. Get enough sleep. This piece of advice is repeated often. However, in reality, no junior is going to get the nine to ten hours of sleep recommended by doctors. While the term “enough sleep” varies from person to person—some can survive on five hours of sleep, while others cannot function with less than seven hours—find a sleep schedule that allows you to be alert for the entire school day.
5. Actually do your homework. Even if it’s reading, your homework will help you study for tests. Don’t be one of those students who uses SparkNotes for everything, then does badly on exams that test the details from the text.
6. Avoid cramming for the SAT. The SAT tests skills that cannot be learned the night before the test. Cramming merely stresses you out, and does not help your performance on the test. Instead, make sure that you review your class materials and take practice tests starting weeks before the actual test. That way, the night before the test, you can just focus on relaxing and getting a good night’s sleep.
7. Don’t take on classes you cannot handle. Not everyone can take five APs and do well in all of them. If you can only handle one AP class, so be it. If you feel completely overwhelmed by Honors classes, take a couple regular classes. Colleges value an A in a regular class more than a C or a D in an AP or Honors class. If you are not sure what is best for you, talk to a teacher or a class counselor.
8. Make sure to have some fun. Spend time with friends over the weekend. Join clubs that you find fun. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that school never takes over your life. Junior year is extremely important, but make sure that you maintain your sanity though all of the challenges you will confront.

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