Is junior year the hardest year?: Fact or fiction

Junior year is often regarded as one of the busiest and perhaps scariest years out of the four years of high school. Some people attribute the year’s daunting reputation to the swamp of homework and assignments while others say that it is due to the number of accelerated courses that students choose to take; though there is a connotation that junior year is one of the most difficult years, is it really true?

Centennial junior Clara Pan shares her experience thus far. She confirms the rumors, agreeing that junior year is much harder than her previous years and that the rigorous courses are the primary contributing factor to the difficulty. “I think that this is the year that counts the most for GPA and getting into college,” Pan shared. 

Junior Madison Zhao shares that she expected junior year to be much worse than sophomore year because of the few “difficult classes” during sophomore year. However, after entering junior year, she realized that she doesn’t have the time to stress about each class. “Now things are getting so overwhelming that I just don’t have the energy to really stress as much,” Zhao revealed, “I feel like the workload is more but at the same time I am less worried.”

Pan believes  that junior year is one of the busiest years ever due to the volume of  extracurricular activities, as junior year is usually when people enter leadership positions. She believes that the number of assignments and the after school activities all contribute to the year’s negative reputation. “A lot of the schoolwork and tests are a lot harder… like last year I [had] never heard of curves, but this year because a lot of the tests are hard, there needs to be curves,” Pan expressed.

Pan also believes that the most challenging aspect of junior year is when tests pile up on the same day, particularly when they are a determining factor for a quarterly grade. 

Zhao agrees with Pan that junior year is one of the most chaotic years, as it is the year before college and usually the year when people take the greatest number of Advanced Placement (AP) courses. However, Zhao also believes that it is more about perspective and how someone chooses to approach the work that determines whether junior year is really that busy. “I still do my best, but I just don’t hold myself to a super high standard that makes me super stressed,” Zhao stated. 

Zhao thinks that the element that makes junior year particularly strenuous are the high expectations from teacher and peers, as well as the worries that juniors have to face, including preparing for the SAT and beginning to think about college. 

Pan also acknowledges that her work ethic was not the best in previous years, as she typically “push[ed] off [her] work until the last minute;” however, she is unable to procrastinate this year because of the limited time. Furthermore, she understands that if she wants to enjoy quality sleep, she must be on top of things. In terms of balancing school versus personal life, Pan notes that she doesn’t have a lot of time except for the weekend. “During the weekends I definitely like to talk to my friends a lot more and hang out a lot more and I feel like the weekends give me a lot of more free time,” Pan shared.

Zhao’s been acclimating more to the new environment by prioritizing things that she needs to get done and planning her week to give her a general overview of what to expect. She also incorporates a checklist to help stay organized. “I am handling the workload by not holding myself to perfection…”I try my best but when that best makes me sleep deprived that’s when I know I’m done,” she admitted. 

Although junior year is perceived as intimidating, Zhao never wants to push herself above her limits because it can influence her sleep schedule. The most she has ever stayed up to was 2am.

The juniors offer some advice to underclassmen to help them navigate the stressful year and reflect on what they wish they had known. Pan’s advice to future juniors is to take classes that they are interested in because she finds that classes that she is not as interested in are the classes that she struggles with the most. Zhao’s advice to her younger self is to not push herself as hard and spread herself more evenly instead of straining herself in one class. She also suggests that underclassmen should take the SAT summer of freshman year because for many people there isn’t much going on, and there would be one less weight on their shoulders. 


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