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The Junior Year Marathon

Posted 04/23/2024 by Amaris Medina

 Junior year feels like a never-ending to-do list. photo by Emanuel Morales-Gomez 

Surviving the pressures and expectations of junior year seems more impossible than it really is. 

They say high school is supposed to contain some of the best years of your life. While I don’t disagree, it’s also not entirely accurate. High school has been one of the most stressful times of my entire life, especially junior year. Everyone said that junior year is hard, but I didn’t think that would be true. I would describe my junior year as a race. I started the race strong, but as it continued I started to fall behind. It seems as though no matter how fast I run, I can never catch up. But I just keep running hoping to catch up and reach the finish line. 

Junior year is arguably one of the most important years of your entire high school career. It’s the year colleges look at when deciding whether or not to accept you into their university. It’s the year when you take the SAT, which also happens to be one of the deciding factors for college admissions. It is the year that you have the most options for AP classes. It’s the year that feels like it practically decides your entire life after high school. Not to mention it’s the year when anyone that you meet will ask you the same exact question, “So, do you know where you want to go to college?” All of this is an immense amount of pressure to place onto one year. I strongly believe that it shouldn’t be this way. 

I am not even done with my junior year and I am already burnt out. Juggling all of these responsibilities seems like it’s never-ending. School used to be easy and now it seems like it’s an impossible task to face. As a student who has always had success in school, it’s terrifying that no matter how hard I try it seems like my efforts aren’t enough. I am not succeeding as easily as I did before. This is a whole new experience that I have never gone through. It seems that everyone around me feels the same way. Each person is dealing with their own school pressures and their lives outside of school on top of that. I would argue that juniors have some of the worst mental health and we are forced to push through our feelings. The pressure doesn’t just come from academic expectations; it’s also the constant bombardment of questions about our future. “What college are you looking at?” “Do you know what you want to study yet?” It’s as if our entire worth is measured by our answers to these questions. The weight of these expectations is suffocating, especially when combined with the already overwhelming workload. While this pressure is felt by most, it also isn’t the case for everyone. The pressure comes from all different sources. It comes from family, teachers, and more than anything, our own selves. 

But amidst all the stress and uncertainty, there’s also a sense of camaraderie among the juniors. We may be struggling individually, but we’re all feeling and experiencing the same pressures. Whether it’s forming study groups to tackle the next test or just hanging out outside of school, we lean on each other for support. I lean on my friends the most when I am feeling overwhelmed. I love to escape all my responsibilities and just live life as a teenager. These are supposed to be the best years of my life, right? So, why can’t they be? I’m still young and still have so much to learn. I want these to be the best years of my life but it’s hard to do that when there is so much pressure to be everything to everyone.

Despite the challenges and constant feeling of wanting to give up, I refuse to let junior year define me. My junior year has been a struggle and my story is only one of many experiences. I may stumble and fall along the way, but I’ll keep pushing forward, knowing that every struggle and every failed test will only push me to try harder and make me a stronger person. And when I finally cross the finish line, I’ll look back on this year not with regret or disappointment, but with pride for having survived one of the toughest times of my life.