5 tips for surviving junior year

Sequoia Wyckoff, Editor-in-Chief

cartoon of four students on zoom
Every year, as a Lasso tradition, we publish advice for each grade for the start of the new year, put together by writers who just finished that grade. This year, as we enter our first Block One in Schoology conferences rather than in classrooms, forging new, strange traditions, and reimagining old ones, our advice has changed a little. (Graphic by Ellen Chadwick)

1. Don’t wake up five minutes before class.

I know how tempting it is to set the alarm for 7:55 – to be honest, I’m going to struggle to follow my own advice on this one – but although this is going to be one of the strangest junior years you could have imagined, make the parts of it you can control as normal as possible. Eat breakfast before class like you would if you were about to catch the bus. Give yourself a few minutes to settle into the school day as if you’re setting down your things as the morning announcements song plays. There are things that can make online school better – like being awake – so do them.

2. If you’re college-bound, relax!

Yes, your junior year is supposedly the part of your high school career that admissions counselors focus the most on, but that means this year, you should focus on being in high school, keeping up with classes, and enjoying yourself – not worrying about college. None of your friends actually want to talk about college with you until… around May of next year, give or take a couple months. Relax, be cool.

3. Work life balance isn’t just for adults – high school juniors need it too.

You can try your very best in each class and be proud of the effort you put in without being unreasonable, unfair, or unkind to yourself. You can be a good, hardworking student without staying up until 2:00 A.M. every night working, and skipping out on time with family or weekend Netflix parties with your friends. Talk to your counselor or teacher if you need to make your workload more manageable – they’re there to help you, and they will if you ask.

cartoon of an easel
Junior year will look different for everyone – taking advantage of the opportunities Mason provides might look like working on a cool art project this year. (Graphic by Ellen Chadwick)

4. There isn’t one right way to do junior year.

Junior year doesn’t have to be six IB classes, morning TOK, three varsity sports, and a campaign to be president of every single club at Mason next year, unless you want it to be. You can make the most out of the opportunities Mason provides in a way that is true to who you are. Challenging yourself this year can look like creating a cool project in art class, or putting your all into being a great team captain, or trying a new class (or two!) you were intrigued by but didn’t know if you could manage. It doesn’t have to be all IB, all “it looks good on college apps,” all the time.

5. Study together!

If this was a normal year, you would be in Mustang Block, in the alcoves, working on a math project with your friends, or in the courtyard with ten of your history classmates preparing for a big test. Junior year is the first time that you and your classmates really feel like one big team, and it’s super cool. Make that happen, even though things are so strange. Facetime your friends before you start a project you feel overwhelmed about, just to talk it through. Set up study sessions over Zoom. Feeling close to your school friends by working and struggling through school projects together is one of the best parts of junior year.