On Starting Junior Year

Summer is coming to a close, and for me that means I'll be back in school in less than two weeks. I remember I used to be that kid who made a countdown until the first day of school that started weeks before the current school year ended. I was the nerdy kid who loved school more than summer and who secretly enjoyed tormenting my classmates with constant reminders throughout summer as to how many days we had left. Feel free to laugh -- I know I do.

Suffice to say, I am not that kid anymore. I still love school and I love learning, but I've also come to enjoy summer in a way I never did, especially since high school is a lot more stressful than middle school, which has given me a greater appreciation for summer.

This year? I'm not exactly 100 percent ready to go back to school just yet, but I'm not completely bummed out either. I'm also tired of hearing all of the junior year horror stories, especially since I know I can tackle this year like a pro. Confidence is an important key to success! This is our year to really shine, especially since it's the year colleges look at, but to take some of the anxiety and pressure off, here are a few things to look forward to in junior year!

We're another year closer to graduation. Remember how graduation seemed so far away when we were the new freshmen walking in on the first day of school? Well now we're upperclassmen! We're just one more year from becoming seniors and two more away from graduating! The wait is almost over! YES.

We're not freshmen. I don't know about you guys, but most of the high schools I know only require freshmen to go to school on the first official day for students in the school district. That also means you can rub it in that you have one more precious day of summer! Of course, we got this back in sophomore year, too, but you can't deny it doesn't make you happy!

We can drive and go off-campus for lunch! Okay, the driving isn't completely true for me until second semester since I kept putting off getting my permit. My official reason is that it's less of a hassle to wait until 16 years, but mostly it's because I just didn't bother since I was in no hurry. I probably won't go off-campus often, but at least I know have the freedom to go off if I want. I can also keep my books in my car, which will save my back from a lot of pain, and since I live close to school, I could even drop home for lunch or if I accidentally left something!

There are more classes available to us. We've already finished the years in which we're taking a lot of prerequisites for a lot of the higher classes and most of our really specific required credits are fulfilled, which means that we have more choice this year. Our options are wide open! I also know most schools don't let students take AP classes until junior year, too, so there's a new opportunity for a lot of you! I never had this problem since I've been taking APs since freshman year, but I'm so excited to see my official schedule!

Prom. Honestly I'm putting this on because I feel obligated since I did say I was going to get us pumped up, but I'm not the school dance type. That said, I know that most of my peers are beyond the moon excited for junior prom! After all, it's THE dance of high school that so many look forward to!

If you're in Colorado, no TCAP (preiously CSAP)! The yearly series of tests we've been taking since we were in third grade that turn us into zombies? Forget about it! We don't have to do it this year! I've heard rumors that we juniors may end up having to take a social studies one or something like that senior year as part of all the changes they're making to our state's standardized testing, but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that doesn't happen. Either way, now we're the juniors who get to tease the sophomores and freshmen for still having to take TCAP!

All of that said, though, junior year is by no means the year to slack off. It is arguably the most important year of high school, especially in terms of the year colleges look at the most. We're taking the PSAT this October, which could potentially launch us into becoming National Merit scholars if our scores are high enough. It's also the year most students really start taking the ACT and SAT. It's our time to strengthen our academics and extracurricular activities to the max. It's also the year to really make those connections with our counselors and teachers -- after all, by the time we need college recommendation letters, our junior year teachers will probably know us better than the new teachers in our senior year.

Don't let the horror stories dampen your excitement. Build up your confidence and your excitement! Make junior year your own -- don't let the pressure completely dictate your year and your outlook! At the same time, though, remember that junior year is extremely important. Now is not the time to go out partying every weekend, especially if college is on your mind. Make the most you can out of this next school year, and as long as we don't give up (or procrastinate!) we will survive!