Dear Rising Juniors...

As you embark upon the next leg of your journey, you may be fearful of what 11th grade has in store. Junior year has a reputation for being one of the most rigorous times of your high school career. However, with the rumored stresses come some of the most valuable memories you will ever make! As you plan ahead for what is to come, it is essential that you make the most out of your time at EHHS while it lasts!

One of the most frequently asked questions amongst underclassmen is if junior year is actually the hardest or “worst” year of high school. Since 11th grade comes with increased academic responsibilities, many find this time to be particularly overwhelming. Even so, I can definitely assure you that it is not as awful as it may seem. The key to minimizing stress is to manage your time wisely! Enter junior year with a set plan of what you want to accomplish and where your duties lie.

In respect to the workload, 11th grade is just like any other year. Rumor has it that colleges focus primarily on your junior year grades, but other high school years aren’t any less important. Courses may seem particularly daunting due to added college or outside tasks, but so long as you remain diligent and attentive, you are set up for success. Current 11th grader, Sage Pappacoda, suggests, “I don’t think junior year is necessarily harder than other years. There definitely are more assignments with stricter standards, but as long as you keep up with the work, it should not feel harder to do well. Obviously, like any year, it can become overwhelming if you end up falling behind.” It is important to remember that the staff at EHHS wants you to succeed. They are always there to support you and can provide any assistance you may need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need something; that’s what they are there for! Juniors should also begin to consider taking classes that reflect their potential career path. With college fast approaching, this year is especially beneficial for exploring new horizons. EHHS offers a wide variety of courses that will give you a glimpse into nearly every field known to man. These classes will not only push you, but also make the college admissions process much easier when it comes to choosing a major.

At the start of my junior year, just hearing the word “college” made my stomach turn. The process that comes with application is incredibly intense and complex, so it may be hard to figure out where to even begin. Essentially, it all comes down to doing your research! There are many resources available online that recommend colleges that are tailored to your interests. Take to Naviance or College Board to devise a list of potential universities that you would like to look further into. These sites feature a breakdown of each campus, be it through statistics, photographs, or college-specific admissions requirements. While the Internet provides a decent perspective, it is a whole other feeling actually stepping foot on campus. Junior year is a great time to schedule college visits, as you get to see what a university is like during its prime. Availability for such tours fills up quickly, so it might be in your best interest to sign up in advance. You can do so simply by visiting the direct website of the intended college; each school has their own schedule and plan of action. While on these trips, be sure to bring a notebook and write down any information that is provided. This will prove to be very helpful in the future when it comes down to making your decision.

Once you get a feel for some of the campuses that are best suited for you, you should begin researching their admissions requirements. Most schools require an SAT or ACT score, while some even request that you submit specific SAT Subject Tests. Having this information under your belt early on is very helpful, as it allows you to formulate a testing plan for the remainder of the year. Begin scheduling your tests as soon as possible, this way you are not cramming during your senior year! Just as you begin registering, you should also begin studying. There are dozens of resources to help you, but one of my favorites is Khan Academy. This program not only provides full practice tests similar to what you will be taking, but it also offers additional practice problems tailored to your areas of need.

Additionally, the SAT Daily Practice app is a great way to incorporate a quick study session into your everyday routine! If you are not one to take initiative, consider enrolling in an SAT prep class at EHHS! With courses in either math or english, this experience is a great way to get a head start on studying through its incorporation of testing strategies, practice problems, and exam day tips. Further, most schools require that you include multiple letters of recommendation in your application. You may want to reach out to staff now, rather than later, in order to ensure that they are available to provide the information that you may need.

One of the amazing luxuries of college is that there are millions of scholarships available to students to help them pay for their education. While most grants are geared more towards seniors, there are still a great deal of scholarships offered for underclassmen. These resources are available on countless websites, and a full list can be found in the guidance office! When applying, be aware of the unfortunate scams that exist on the web. Any scholarship that requires a payment, credit card number, or social security number should be avoided at all costs! Remember, the more you apply for, the higher the likelihood that you will be chosen.

Believe me, junior year isn’t just all work, no play. There are still plenty of opportunities to spend time with your friends and let loose. It is important that this year especially, you find a balance between your social life and academic responsibilities. Megan Gaudioso, a rising senior, mentioned, “Balancing my social life with my academic responsibilities can be very challenging at times. My tip to help maintain the correct balance is to make time for both. The way I do this is by doing my classwork in the morning and hanging out with my friends later in the afternoon. That way I have finished my academic responsibilities for the day and still have time to hang out with my friends.” Your best bet is to designate set time for both! Try to complete your workload during the school week so that the weekends are your time to relax! High school is so much more than the grade on your report card. It is about meeting new people, getting involved in new activities, and learning lessons that will stick with you for years to come. Don’t let the stress of college and graduation consume your thoughts entirely. Find something that takes your mind off of the unnecessary pressures. Join a sport or club! Attend the Friday night football games! Participate in the pep-rally, even if you totally embarrass yourself! Be present in every moment and make every memory count! Before you know it, you will be walking across the stage and turning your tassel from left to right!