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Liv: The Stress of Junior Year, Age: 17

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

I am a junior in high school.

From the day I stepped into high school, I was told of the horrors that is junior year: AP classes, standardized testing, and college pressure. However, in freshman and sophomore year I vowed to myself that I would try to ignore all the crazy expectations of high school like getting straight A’s, taking hard classes, and trying to do every sport and club I could handle. It was unrealistic!

I put my my mental state first so that I was happy. My philosophy was that I would try any class that I was interested in, even if it was hard or obscure. I probably wouldn’t get a perfect grade in it, but at least I was interested in the topic! This idea made for wonderful two years of stress-free learning and having fun with friends.
Things changed once I entered junior year.

Everything seemed to come crashing down. It felt like college was right around the corner and all of a sudden grades really did matter. Not only that, but every college seemed to expect only the highest standardized test scores along with it. I felt like I had failed myself the past few years. I was more stressed than ever because my grades and extracurricular weren’t enough to get into a good college. My anxiety increased and I felt as if I only had this last year to bring my grades. I was freaking out!


What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

I think once I settled down and got a college counselor, who could guide me through the college process, everything came in to focus again. My college counselor helped me put everything that I had to do down on paper. We formulated a guide to juggling school, weekly ACT tests, and sports.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

My turning point these last anxious 6 months was when I finally came to terms with the fact that whatever school I get into will be right for me. There is no point worrying about getting into a school that has a workload I can’t handle. It would just cause four more years of stress and anxiety! A perfect college for me is one where I can study my interests, see myself fitting in, and, most importantly, a place where I can be happy.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

My life now is not exactly stress-free, but definitely getting better! Seeing the seniors the year above me getting into the schools of their dreams has given me me hope for myself! Instead of fearing the process, I have began to feel excited for the process. The idea of figuring out which college will be the right match for me seems intriguing now.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

I think any student entering their junior year in high school should keep their mental state in mind. It is important to make sure you aren’t too stressed. Always remember that whatever happens, it is for the best (and even if you don’t like the college you initially get into, there is always the option to transfer!).

There are sooo many colleges available that are right for each person. No college is perfect. As long as you do your best, try to learn as much as you can, and maintain a healthy mental state, you will succeed. High school isn’t just a place to learn and compete for A’s every year- it is a place to find yourself and grow as a person. Even if you don’t figure out exactly “who” you are or who you want to be when you are older, it is a place to find what is important in life: happiness, peace, and confidence in yourself.

I am a Junior in High School. I have always heard of the horrors that is Junior Year.

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