Junior year: friend or foe?

Although junior year is often viewed as a year of struggle, juniors were able to have fun and win second place in this year’s homecoming float competition.

Photo courtesy of @wshs24 on Instagram

Although junior year is often viewed as a year of struggle, juniors were able to have fun and win second place in this year’s homecoming float competition.

Despite junior year’s reputation of being the most difficult and strenuous year of high school, high school’s most challenging year can come at varying times for students. 

“I’ve enjoyed junior year, but I get why it’s often considered the most difficult,” said junior Jack East. “There’s a lot of rising tension for college choosing, getting ready to apply to those schools, and SATs becoming extra baggage that students start to carry towards the end of the year.” 

The looming prospect of college is a weight upon juniors’ backs. With applications due in the fall of senior year, many students try to get the jump on their essays and perfect their grades before applications must be submitted. 

“Junior year has the reputation of being the hardest just because it truly is your last year to get your act together before applying to colleges and your grades will really make or break you,” said senior Amanda Harris. 

For rising juniors, a mix of anticipation and apprehension can be felt as sophomore year wraps up and junior year is just around the corner. Although junior year brings a host of new difficulties, it also presents new privileges. 

“I am excited about junior year because I’ll be an upperclassman, which means I can drive, but I’m also a little nervous because I’m taking a more rigorous course load,” said sophomore Alyssa Hughes. “I am taking more APs than I have previously, but I think if [I] have good time management, everything will work out.”

For some juniors, in spite of academic and collegiate trials, junior year has proven to be more of a blessing than a curse. Students have settled themselves into high school and have had the time to find their social and academic niches. 

“I think my junior year has been my best year social-wise,” said junior Anya King. “I’ve cemented good friends and better found myself.” 

Despite the reputation of high school’s infamous third year, not all students found it to be their most difficult. 

“Sophomore year was definitely my hardest because my work ethic was completely thrown off from [my virtual freshmen year],” said East. 

The COVID-19 pandemic was a common reason why students found their underclassmen years the most challenging, on account of the trials and tribulations of virtual learning.

“Definitely the most difficult [year] was sophomore year just because that year was all online and I never really engaged as well as junior year because it was a new adjustment to COVID rules and life back at school,” said Harris. 

After a year at home, students who chose to transition from virtual to in-person learning were presented with a new set of challenges in both social and academic realms due to the jarring switch from limited social interaction to a normal school environment. 

“Coming in-person halfway through COVID in ninth grade was probably the most difficult year,” said junior Elizabeth Fairchild. “I was really worried about how I was portraying myself to everybody and how I was going to meet people at a new school. I got dragged down with the social pressure I put on myself and I wasn’t caring about my grades that much.”

Whether freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior year is the most challenging, junior year is unique in its onslaught of academic rigor and close proximity to paramount decisions ascertaining to college and life beyond high school. In light of these challenges, it is important to pace oneself and prioritize rest just as much as school responsibilities. 

“I’d say be careful not to put too much pressure on yourself either making friends or in academics,” said Fairchild. “I think junior year is when most of the wisdom, regret, and fear start to kick in. As long as your number one focus is on setting yourself up for success in the future, your other decisions will fall into place.”