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Stress overcomes students during junior year

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Stress overcomes students during junior year

Tori Mitchem

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It has been said every year for many years that junior year is the hardest year, and many students at GHS agree with this statement. Some of the obstacles of junior year include challenging classes, important SOLs, ACTs and SATs, choosing a career path, preparing for college, and even having a part time job. Junior year is the time in a student’s life to make important decisions and learn important life skills.

 At this school and in general, there are a wide variety of classes available to juniors. Some of these classes are AP (advanced placement) courses. AP classes are fast paced and cover more material than regular high school classes. In fact, they have many similarities to introductory college courses, and they even give students the chance to earn college credit while boosting their GPA. However, to earn the college credit, students must first pass the AP exam. The grading scale ranges from 1 to 5, and most colleges accept these courses as college credit. Taking AP classes is a good way for a student to strengthen his or her transcript, and some students are able to earn enough credit to skip their first year of college. However, with the faster pace and larger workload, AP classes can make students feel stressed and overwhelmed while they learn to balance the work with their everyday lives. One junior, Andrea Heffinger, says, “I think that junior year is the hardest year. It’s the first year you can drive, but you can’t hang out with people because of the homework.”

 Another thing that affects students during their junior year are important SOLs. The state of Virginia is currently in the process of changing this, but in years past, juniors at this school have typically taken SOLs for U.S History, Algebra 2, Chemistry, and two SOLs for English 11. Since this is the year of high school with the most, and possibly most challenging SOLs, juniors have to spend even more time studying and preparing than they had in their freshman or sophomore years. This can also impact how they use their time. “Junior year requires a lot of hard work. It requires persistence. Then, you have to balance that with everyday life,” says Mr. Calfee. Kaitlyn Honaker, a senior, who has already gotten through her junior year says, “Junior year is hard depending on what classes you take, and it  is stressful because you have to take important SOLs. Most people choose to take easier classes their senior year.”

 In the spring of junior year or the fall of senior year, students typically take their SATs and ACTs. The SAT is made up of a math, reading and writing, and an optional essay part. It is a three hour timed test with fifty extra minutes with the essay. The highest score is 1600, and the average score is 1060, and the higher the score the more options for attending and paying for college. Students should register for the SAT approximately five weeks before each date, and there are several ways students can prepare. “Going to khanacademy.com is a great way to prepare for the SAT. Students can take practice tests. It is more accurate and up to date than the books,” says Ms.Proffit.The test costs $46.00 and $60.00 with the essay. With two hours and 55 minutes and 40 extra minutes with the optional essay part, the ACT is also an important timed test taken by many juniors. The ACT is made up of an English, math, reading, science, and an optional essay section. It costs $50 and $67 with the writing. These tests can cause a great deal of stress for students because they can take months of preparation, and the scores can affect what college they get into.

 Junior year is also the time to start thinking and planning for a career path. This is a major decision in a person’s life, so it causes a great deal of pressure and stress. Luckily, there are some tips for picking a career path that can make this challenging process seem easier. Some of the tips are knowing your workload and identifying your skills. It is important to be aware of what workload and with what abilities students can work best under. More tips would be to know your goals and understand your values. Students should determine what they want to achieve in life and the things that are important to them now and in their future. Once students have set goals for themselves, they need to know how much time, education, and money that will go into achieving them because this can be a big influence on whether a student will follow through with their goal. Another important tip is to be aware that things can change. What may seem like a good plan in a student’s life right now may not be such a good idea a few years down the road. When a student chooses a career path, they can learn much more about it by talking to people that work in the field and even considering an internship. It is also important for students to know their resources and have flexibility because students have to have enough resources to achieve a career goal, and they have to know how to adjust and overcome obstacles in their path while going toward their achievements.

 “I think that junior year is the hardest year because there is a lot of pressure to pick your career and apply for college,” says another junior, Lakyn Hawks. Planning for college can be one of the most challenging parts of  junior year. It is the time when juniors really start to think about their future, and with all of the college locations, programs, and scholarship opportunities, it can be a very overwhelming experience. However, just like career paths, there are many ways to help students prepare for college. Some tips for college prep are for students to meet up with their guidance counselor to determine their class rank and GPA, organize and study for SATs and ACTs, and make a list of colleges with the types of programs and activities they want to be involved in. It is also a good idea for students to learn about financial aid, search for scholarships, and discuss their college interests with their family. “Our career coach here is a wonderful resource for all students. To help decide on what college to go to, go to Google and research different colleges and their admission requirements, and visit those colleges,” says Ms. Proffit.

 Along with all of the preparation for the future and the work put into academics, there is also a good deal of activities outside of school that keep juniors busy. One of these many activities is having a part time job. Many juniors at this school have a part time job which can greatly cut into their free time and create the need for time management. Because of the more complex schedule, the students have much more pressure on them to get all of their tasks completed on time. Jobs can also require students to gain more responsibility, maturity, and communication skills., “I have to juggle my workload. I do this by bringing my homework to work,” says one working senior, Bethany Broyles. “Time management is the most stressful thing. There are so many things going on. Many students have jobs, clubs, sports, and things to do at home. Creating a good balance and having a positive stress reliever is important,” says Ms. Proffit again.

 It is a common opinion that junior year is the hardest year of high school. It is filled with things such as standardized tests, advanced and challenging classes, pressure for the future such as colleges and careers, and it is the year where many students discover who they want to be. This is also the year where students learn important skills, and they are introduced to more things in the real world. While the stress and pressure of junior year will not go away completely, accurate advice and preparation to get through the year can made a huge and positive impact.

 

If you want to learn more on this topic, you can visit  www.livecareer.com, www.theodysseyonline.com, www.heraldtribune.com,www.testpreptoolkit.com, www.princetonreview.com, orwww.petersons.com

1 Comment

One Response to “Stress overcomes students during junior year”

  1. Mrs. McAvoy on March 26th, 2019 10:54 AM

    I really enjoyed your coverage of this issue. I like the way you emphasized that seniors look for an easier schedule, possibly to compensate for what they endured during junior year.

    I would like to brainstorm with students, teachers, administrators, and parents on ways we can provide a better balance in the testing and curriculum for our juniors. It particularly touched me that one student said that even though she can drive, she has no time to go anywhere with friends. We know that social interaction and recreation are vital components of good mental and emotional health. It concerns me that this student was being deprived of those opportunities, and I believe she speaks for many other students. I know my own son and many of his friends struggled with this same issue.

    Research shows that levels of anxiety and depression are rampant in our young people. The teenage suicide rate is also higher than at any other time in history. I know there is a correlation between social media and this phenomenon, but I wonder if high-stakes testing also plays a role. Additionally, students are looking at media reports of school violence all too often. There are multiple components to the issue, and I hope we will continue to analyze all of them.

    On the bright side, if there is one, this overwhelming experience prepares students for college. Many former students tell me that college is actually easier than what they endured in high school. Some of these students are attending universities like UVA, William and Mary, and George Mason, some of the best colleges in the country, but their junior year was more stressful than their experiences in college!

    Thank you for shedding light on this subject that was originally addressed by another student in a speech delivered to the student body. He started a dialogue that you have continued, and I hope it won’t stop here.

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Stress overcomes students during junior year