Making the Most of Junior Year

Making the Most of Junior Year
By: Clay Cole

    Junior year can be the most stressful year for anyone that is striving to go to that top-notch school. Too many students are worrying about why they made a 96 on a graphic organizer instead of a 100, or why they have a 99.4 on their progress report. Some students hear the letters GPA and automatically get the magic “4.0” in their heads and stress that if they have a 92 in math they will not have above a 3.4 GPA and not get that scholarship to Alabama or Auburn. Others fear that if they cannot hit the A-gap just right or cannot find the sweet spot on their new bat, recruiters will not think they are good enough to come watch them play. Many students overwhelm themselves with stressing over the balance of academics and sports. Instead of stressing, designate your time from 7:45-3:00 to focus on your school and your grades; when 3 o’clock hits focus on making that field goal or shoot for a new personal record (PR). Once you are home get your homework out of the way so you can focus on the most important thing, your family.
    “How many clubs can I successfully be active in?” Is a question that many students ask on the first day of their junior year. Why do clubs matter so much to juniors?  “President of Beta Club, FBLA, FCCLA, and Spanish Club” looks better on a college resume than “Captain of the Varsity team four years in a row” when applying for law at the University of Alabama. No, clubs are not going to be what makes-or-breaks your application but they can play a role. Participating in clubs such as these help out in the community and show that your priorities are set on helping the community instead of “standard” student priorities such as partying. Colleges will not turn you down for not including your participation in Junior Civitan or for just being a member of SGA and not being the President, but it can present your abilities and leadership.

    What can diminish your applications to any college is that little two-digit number from the ACT. The ACT is a timed test that is a requirement to go to virtually any college in the United States. There are four multiple choice subject tests: English, mathematics, reading, science reasoning, and optionally writing. Subject test scores range from 1 to 36; all scores are integers. However, the ACT is not the only test that can affect your entrance to universities. Close to the beginning of students’ junior year the PSAT/NMSQT (Practice Standardized Achievement Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualification Test) is taken to not only practice the SAT, but to qualify to be a National Merit. The National Merit Scholarship Program is a United States academic scholarship competition for recognition and university scholarships administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), a privately funded, not-for-profit organization based in Evanston, Illinois. The program began in 1955 (National Merit Scholarship Program, n.d.) Most scholarships are offered solely on your test, but other factors play in as well.

    Junior year of high school can be difficult, and it can be easy to become overwhelmed with putting all the right resources to make your resume the best it can be. So remember, slowdown in life-do not live for Friday nights at Waffle House or Sonic. Take your time and study for those pesky Tuesday test that seem to slap you in the face while you are still trying to recover from Monday. Talk to your teachers; I have found that building a relationship with your teachers helps you understand their teaching styles (which will better your studies). Say no to your friends. It may sound cliché, but if they want to go bowling on a Wednesday after school because it is Dollar Day, but you have church and a math test on a lesson you are struggling with the next morning, tell them no! While it may hurt your brain to force yourself to learn where to multiply, it will pay off eventually. So yes, you need to worry about your grades and being active in some clubs, but do not overwhelm yourself. It is ok if you drop a pass or two-that recruiter you are wanting to come watch you at practice one day might have never even heard of your school before. So, good luck and calm down there is not a difference in a 98 and a 100. Instead of worrying over those two points on an assignment, put effort into other aspects that impress colleges.