Junior Year: The Most Challenging Year of School So Far

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Junior Year: The Most Challenging Year of School So Far

Maddie Pfeifer, Staff Reporter

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The common myth surrounding junior year is that it is the hardest year—well, in my experience, that statement is pretty accurate. As I am wrapping up my own junior year, I can honestly say that this year has been the most challenging year of school to date.

I started out this school year with a pretty heavy schedule consisting of three Advanced Placement classes and two honors classes. All of a sudden, my workload seemed to at least double from what it was last year and I had quite the wake up call. Gone were nights where I was in bed by 9:30. This year, I have lost countless hours of sleep due to the amount of homework and projects that plague my daily schedule. I have never before gone to sleep at 12 as a result of homework, and this has taken a huge toll on me and my health and mood.

Junior year is also infamous for the research paper. I am currently writing my own research paper and drowning in notecards, databases, and drafts. The research paper is literally consuming my weeknights as I stay up frantically typing away with bags forming under my eyes.

Besides the obvious increase in work, junior year also means that college is starting to become very, very real. Meeting with my counselor this year and having a serious conversation about my future was a little scary. Taking the SAT and ACT and feeling the pressure to perform on those two tests was extremely intense. Having all of my AP tests recently has been intimidating. Junior year has made it seem that my GPA, test scores, and a resume are all that really define me in my future and that is a little terrifying.

This year has been the first real year that I have ever been challenged in school. I don’t consider myself to be especially smart, but I have been able to work hard and get A’s since I can remember. Junior year has taught me that it is not the end of the world if I don’t get an A — although it may be frustrating — because a B+ in an AP class is still a pretty good accomplishment.

Looking back on my junior year thus far, there isn’t much that I would actually change. I suppose I wish I would have studied harder for a test or two or gotten extra help when I needed it, but overall, I wouldn’t trade the challenges I have experienced this year for anything.

All of the late nights and stress have taken a toll on me—there’s no denying it—but in the end, those nights are worth it. If anyone is considering taking AP or honors classes, it is definitely something that you need to think about from all perspectives. I would suggest that the intense amount of work is truly worth it depending on the class and what you want to do in the future.

For me personally, the AP English course has improved my writing tremendously and this is something that I am so grateful for, seeing as I want to enter a career in writing. On the other hand, a class like AP Calculus (which I am not particularly great at or looking to pursue in my future) is one that I just kind of saw as the next level in my math career—a mandatory class to take. Perhaps the stress from this class was not as worth it—although I do think that getting college credit would be really nice.

AP classes have been immensely stressful this year, but I am very happy with my decision to take them. I know that the classes prepared me for the AP tests and that I will hopefully have a good chance at earning college credit, which will be very beneficial in the future. Overall, I believe that the frustration and struggles have helped me in the long term and are totally worth it.

I’m not writing this to scare any underclassmen about junior year and its challenges, but to every freshman and sophomore out there complaining about stress or their workload, to be honest, you have no idea what you are talking about. The work is manageable, but it will take a lot of focus and motivation to truly succeed in your junior year.

Struggling this year has taught me what college is going to be like. I have learned how to deal with a significant amount of stress—or how not to deal with it—and I have grown immensely as a student this year. As I finish my junior year, I know that I will be prepared for college and the workload that I will have next year.

Interested in learning more about AP classes and how to succeed in them? Check out my previous article on the subject here:

How to Succeed in AP Classes

Creative Commons photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/16840395246/in/