Advice to Second Semester Juniors
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You feel tired, stressed, over-worked, and overwhelmed. Days have begun to blend together, school to sports to homework to sleep to school, and you are smack in the middle of it all. Having recently completed Junior year at the School, I know how you’re feeling, and I’m here to help. The following is a compilation of advice, from a previously over-worked and overwhelmed Junior, for how to complete the remainder of the year as smoothly and successfully as possible.
First, find a space where you work well. For me, this space is the Orinda Public Library. I’m no physicist (Bio and Neuro all the way!), but I truly believe that time passes slower within the library’s walls. Assignments that would normally take an hour are done within minutes. I work best with a table, a lamp, a chair, earplugs, and silence. Find your place, whether it’s your bed with Spotify in the background, or your kitchen table among your family members.
Next, sleep. I’ve completed dozens of school weeks on four to five hours of sleep per night. It’s possible, but it’s more stressful and less efficient. Although working until one or two a.m. allows for more homework time, it’s ultimately not worth it. The curriculum may seem insurmountable, but it is not so vast as to require keeping such late hours. You can go to bed at ten or eleven p.m. every night; it just takes discipline, prioritization, and organization. I recently started using an app called Sleep Cycle, which allows you to track different characteristics of your sleep including length and quality. Moreover, you can set daily “sleep notes” to fill out right before going to bed (these only take ten seconds) including eating habits, water intake, and athletic activities. Sleep notes both help determine if certain factors of your day are affecting how you sleep and serve as positive reinforcement. For example, one of my sleep notes is “Productive and Efficient,” and it always feels really good to be able to click “yes” after a busy day. I’d definitely recommend giving the app a try, plus it’s free!
Work around your commitments (literally). If you had plans to see your friend but haven’t finished your math homework, bring it to their house (they probably haven’t done it either). If you’re going to a concert on a school night, read your Western Civ passage on Bart. Studying with friends or out of your normal spaces is not always as successful, but you may find that it works for you.
Hydrate. Between all of your commitments, you are undoubtedly exhausted, so give your body what it needs. Try to drink eight cups (64 oz.) (two nalgenes) of water every day. Your mood, physical and mental fatigue, and efficiency will improve. Bring a water bottle to every class.
Take your new responsibilities seriously, such as standardized testing, APs, and college workshops. These duties constitute the main difference between Sophomore and Junior Year. The amount of work does not dramatically increase; it’s all the extra stuff that you have to do on top of it that makes school harder. It’s easy to put such duties off, especially when some of it may seem superfluous; however, all your dedication will pay off. It’s the small things that lay the foundation for what is to come.
One successful way to tackle Junior year is to establish a routine, which has been the main focus of this article thus far. Routines, however, can quickly become overbearing. Many students feel guilty or restless when they are not working, even if they are not behind. So breathe. Relax. Take a moment. Not only will you feel better, but you will probably be more productive afterwards than if you had studied the whole time.
Finally, as recently embodied by rising NBA star Joel Embiid, “trust the process.” Junior year is meant to be difficult and crazy. You’ve already completed over half of it and are all more capable than you imagine. You’ve got this! Hang in there.