10 Tips to Survive Junior Year


By Duaa Israr

It’s the third day of your junior year, and you already feel like crying. There will be nights when you feel like giving up — when you feel like it’s the end and you just want to curl up in a ball and marathon “Friends” — but trust me when I say things will get better. Here are ten tips to make your junior year a little less gruesome.

1. Focus on your GPA

I know you’re told this every single year, but junior year is the most crucial year and you really want to focus on your academics. I know that everyone will be stressing about ACTs, but also focus on your GPA. All colleges look at your GPA, and sometimes, having a high GPA makes up for that low ACT score. Some colleges like DePaul University don’t require students to send in their ACT scores — instead, you can send in a transcript of your grades. So, if you know you’re not a good standardized test taker, plan accordingly.


Something I wish I did when I was a junior is take the ACT the first time it was offered. I went in blind during February while everyone around me had an idea as to what the content was on the test. Take the ACT when it’s offered, and most importantly, study for it. Everyone says you can’t study for the ACT/SATs, but going over flash cards, taking practice tests, and focusing on your weaknesses goes a long way. That being said, it’s okay if you don’t get the score you wanted. Start focusing on other things colleges would love to see from you, such as clubs and activities.

3. Clubs & Activities

Junior year is your final year to join something to show on your college applications. Trying to do everything senior year will just make you stressed and is a bad idea. Join a sport that you really enjoy, or if you want less commitment, try something fun and easy, such as art club. The main thing? Do something. Joining your junior year will help, and you’ll have an entire year’s worth of experience to put on your college applications.

4. Don’t fall behind

I know that there will be days when you miss school, and when you come back, it’ll feel like you missed an entire semester. Don’t fall behind. If you know you’ll be out on a certain day, pick your homework up a few days before. You don’t want to fall off the tracks during your most crucial year. Ask a friend for help, or if you’re out sick, email your teachers. I know missing a day and skipping out on homework will seem relaxing, but it’ll only stress you out in the long run. Keep up and don’t procrastinate.

5. Start looking at colleges

This is the year you want to start looking at colleges. Make a list and keep your options open. Sometimes, having a goal can motivate you to do better in classes and what better goal than trying to get in your dream college? Be realistic as well though. Think about places in terms of location, money, and majors. Go to your counselor and plan ahead, so when senior year rolls around, you’re on top of everything.

6. Breakfast/Coffee

I know there will be days when your running late and skipping breakfast might seem the most simple thing to do. Don’t. Breakfast honestly is the most important day of the meal and you’ll feel much more awake and alert. No one can remember what they learned when their stomach was growling during a lecture. Another staple item is coffee. There will be nights when you’re awake until 2 a.m., studying for that history test, or writing a GAW paper and the only way to even feel half alive in the morning is to drink coffee. It’s your friend.

7. Sleep

There will be days when you will walk into school after having pulled all-nighters and trust me when I say those days are the worst. You’ll feel crabby, snap at everything and everyone, and feel like breaking down. Sleep is important and even though you’ll have a lot of work, create a schedule which guarantees you a few hours of some shut-eye. Some students opt to go to bed at nine and wake up at four in the morning to do homework, others take naps in between the day and work all night. Do whatever works for you, but get at least a few hours in.

8. Doing things for you

Don’t take seven APs and three clubs just because college is on your mind. Learn to do some things for you and you only otherwise you’ll be miserable and immensely stressed. I have friends who took APs last year for the sake of college and spent most of their time struggling. Their grades dropped in other classes and the trouble was just not worth it. College is important, but so are you.

9. Read

Read up on the news, because it will be one of the most important things your junior year. Whether it has to do with the world or something local, reading the news will help you in many classes and especially in essays. What I like to do is download a couple of news apps (not BuzzFeed!) and turn on all the notifications. This way, I’m updated on what is going on around the world, without actually having to sit down and read; I have the news with me everywhere I go. Usually, teachers will also get these updates and discuss about them in class and guess who will be prepared? You!

10. Health

You are important. Don’t become a recluse and spend all your time holed up in your room. Breathe and take care of yourself. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to someone, drop a class. Don’t let junior year ruin your health.

Junior year is important and many of you will feel stressed, but if you follow these tips and have a schedule, trust me when I say, everything will feel easier.