The Class of 2021
“Stressful,” “Important,” “The year that matters,” and “Higher expectations” are just some of the many words and phrases our student interviewees used to describe their junior year experience. Junior year has been labeled as the hardest and most important year of a teenager's high school career. With the college process fast approaching, juniors are often faced with the challenges of maintaining good grades, managing clubs, extracurriculars, and studying for the SAT and ACT. Furthermore, juniors are given more privileges approaching adulthood such as driving. In order to understand and gain a better perspective of junior year and everything it entails, we took some time to interview various juniors with contrasting daily schedules. We also talked with teachers to discover what they observe within juniors inside and outside of the classroom. Also we gained some perspective and advice from our friendly college counselors on the arguably complicated junior year.
In a poll sent to the entire junior class, out of 40 respondents, 50% stated that they have around 2-3 hours of homework a night while 37.5% stated they have 4 hours or more of homework a night. Only 12.5% stated they have 1-2 hours of homework a night. A heavy homework load for juniors and strict deadlines can lead to a lot of pressure along with their already busy lives.
Junior Caroline Grace Butler expressed how her stress during her junior year has been triggered by, “feeling like I have to get everything right, feeling like I have to be the perfect student who gets all A's, attends every single club meeting and gets all her work done. That creates a lot of stress because I feel like I can’t get anything done, so I give up sleep.”
Skye Schofield-Saba stated how certain classes with specific deadlines can develop a large amount of stress throughout junior year. “I have a lot of hard classes and a lot of them overlap when things are due. Its all consecutive so if you don’t have that done then the next thing that’s due is even harder to do and I just think it’s necessary for the class and it puts a lot of stress on like when you balance certain things and what things are important in life.” Skye continued by stating how “there are definitely harder classes like APUSH and APCHEM and classes like that, I know a lot of people who lose a lot of sleep over the things they experience in those classrooms and I know it's hard to not with the way they are structured. I think APs harbor a lot of stress for a lot of people.”
In the poll, respondents were asked what is their most stressful class, 42.5% stated it is history which can consist of APUSH and regular American History. While, 25% of respondents stated their hardest class is math. Fifteen percent of respondents expressed that their most stressful class is science.
Finlay Weiss stated how his junior year stress is developed by “times when a break is coming up because teachers cram at the last minute.” When asked what aspect of school can give him the most stress at times, Finlay stated how midterms and finals have the ability to pack on an extra load of stress.
Increasing amounts of homework can also mean a decreased amount of sleep. In our poll, students were asked how many hours of sleep they get, 59% of respondents stated they get around 6-7 hours of sleep per night, while 20.5% of respondents expressed they get 4-5 hours of sleep, and 15.4% of respondents recorded they get 8-9 hours of sleep.
Skye also expressed how she thinks “there is a lot of stress in your grades and obviously your parents want you to do well and you yourself want you to do well. And I definitely think your teachers want to help you. But at the same time, they can’t fully understand all the things you are going through and all the things that are happening in your life and I think all they can do is try their best to put themselves in your shoes.”
Playing a huge part in our high school lives are our teachers. They often see the happiest sides of students when they have a great accomplishment, but also are able to see the when students are the most stressed and frustrated during a major assignment or hard class period. When asked what he observes in the Junior class, English teacher Dr. Sidle stated “I like where [juniors’] heads are, the space [juniors’] heads are in for learning. It makes it enjoyable as a teacher. Whereas the seniors are in a different place - it's not necessarily a negative space, it is not worse, they're a little more relaxed, still interested in learning. They are just coasting a little more.”
History teacher Mr. Humphreys stated that “Obviously junior year is what you've had built up and told that it is the most important year...It’s this expectation to perform and this expectation of a certain result because if you don’t meet that expectation then anything past this singular year won't come to fruition.”
When asked on how the present pressure and stress of juniors affects their teaching style, Dr. Sidle stated how he tries “to keep a finger on the pulse, your all’s stress pulse. I mean I look around the classroom trying to see how you all are feeling and if I can pick up on that. It may seem abrupt when I say, ‘Let's take a break’.”
Although junior year can bring upon academic stress, one large positive juniors express is the ability to have more freedom with driving. In the poll, 65% of respondents stated they have their license.
Junior Bo Siegel, who is a driver himself, said “it's a lot more freedom, you don’t have to rely on your parents to get anywhere.” Bo then brings up how even though you get a lot more freedom it comes with a lot more responsibility. He talks about “the responsibility of gas money and taking care of the car” as the negative sides of driving but says it is “definitely good overall.”
Turner Naef stated how the freedoms of driving are “very liberating” and he feels as if “I am no longer attached to my parents’ leash.” However, recently Turner is not driving his car, and Jack Pessaud, who now drives Turner temporarily, stated how driving with Turner is fun because he has a friend with him. Although, Jack joked that driving with Turner “is a hassle to my morning routine.”
Junior year can also present an early onset of senioritis with second semester juniors, with large research papers, SAT Practice, recruiting, and college visits. The amount of work Juniors receive can lead to a decreased motivation towards the end of the school year. When asked if she felt an early onset of senioritis, Skye laughed and stated, “Yeah kinda, there are sometimes where you’re trying your hardest and you're so drained and tired that you’re like ‘do I really care?’ and you’re forced to prioritize certain things.” Caroline Grace stated how she feels senioritis creeping upon her “around midnight when I am trying to do homework and I think about just giving up and going to bed.”
Since the college process is such a big deal to juniors we decided to talk with one of our college counselors. Mr. Doyle said “I think it is important from an academic standpoint in a sense that some schools stop looking at grades after junior year.” He talks about how first-semester seniors have more stress then juniors due to college applications, essays and grades. He talks about how junior year “should not stress a student out.” He talks about how the college office wants to be there to help “debunk some of the things that they are (juniors) are stressed about.” He does not want any junior to stress too much about the college process.
With the college process creeping up on juniors, there is also a sense of nostalgia that comes with leaving home and going to college. When asked about this topic, Skye stated how she has gained a lot of nostalgia when it comes to leaving home and going to college. “Especially since I am a part of Stage One, with every show ending you realize how close you’re getting to your final show. We only have five months until we are seniors, and we are doing everything the last time and I definitely think about it a lot.”
Caroline Grace stated how leaving home makes her “sad leaving all the memories and having to become an adult, it’s scary.”
Peyton Hensley expressed how she does not hav nostalgia leaving home, “I will not be sad, and I’ll see y’all at the 5-year-reunion.” However, she remarks that she will probably be sad once it is actually all over, which “right now seems like still a long time to me.”
For the Voice staff our thoughts on junior year vary, three of our writers reflect on their experience of junior year.
Chumani’s take on junior year:
Over the last few months, I have learned that some of the labels attached to junior year are true while some may be over-exaggerated. For me personally, I do feel as if junior year is the hardest year within high school. With challenging AP classes, preparing for the SAT and ACT, sports, and life outside of school, junior year has most certainly given me some large challenges that have pushed me to become a better student and persevere even when it seems as if I cannot offer anything else to the table. When it comes to the stress attached to junior year I decided to take two AP courses which have not only added a larger workload but have added an extra layer of stress. However, I do believe that this stress is preparing me for the real world and can give me the opportunity to be prepared when larger assignments arise during my time in college. So far, I have not caught an early onset of “senioritis” mainly because I still feel the need and drive to work hard in all of my classes. I always want to put forth my best work, and it would be a disservice to myself if I did not. However, I have gained a large amount of nostalgia towards leaving home and going to college. At heart, I am a family girl who loves to spend time and make memories with her family. Being away from home will be hard for me because I will not be around my family all the time. However, I am excited to experience new challenges and explore creation on my own!
Katie’s take on junior year
Personally, my junior year has been the hardest of the three years I have had in high school so far. I have been told since freshman year that junior year is the most exhausting and difficult year out of the four. I went into this year with that mindset, that the year was going to be impossible, which I wish I had not, because I feel that mindset just made me more stressed out than I should have been. Throughout this year, my stress has fluctuated as I have been learning how to handle my stress, my classes, staying organized and time management. Never in my high school years have I been constantly meeting with teachers or studying till midnight until this year. I feel like it really depends on your mindset and how you handle your classes and the amount of work.
Hadley’s take on junior Year
For me, I feel that junior year is the most important year of high school in terms of grades and test scores for college. Not only is it very important to maintain your GPA, but students are also expected to visit the colleges they are interested in and take standardized tests. I have taken the ACT multiple times and find it hard to know whether or not I should be prioritizing testing. Balance has always been an issue, but I believe for me junior year is when the pressure is put on to be organized. Socially, many of my friends have gotten their licenses. I have my learner’s permit, but I haven’t had the time to finish all of my lessons. However it is better for me now to experience these stresses rather than in the future when I am not prepared for a harder workload and communicating my concerns to teachers and my parents.