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An Open Letter to Incoming Juniors

by SOPHIE GORECKI - Everything you need to know before starting your junior year at WHS

Dear incoming juniors,

When I was in your position a little less than a year ago, frankly, I was terrified. Everyone told me that junior year is the most important year of high school and that it was my last chance to prove my academic abilities to future colleges, which I took to heart. While this is an important time in your high school career, I personally think there is an excessive amount of pressure put on juniors. As a junior, I felt pressured to take lots of AP classes, get a great SAT and ACT score, and stay involved in my school and community, all while still maintaining a high GPA. What I’ve learned this year is that challenging yourself academically and doing your best in school is important, but it isn’t everything.

One of my biggest regrets about this year is that I spent too much time obsessing over my grades and trying to look like a perfect, well-rounded student to colleges that I didn’t take the time to enjoy the moments I had with my friends and family. The recent pandemic has made me reflect on my past, and I wish I had spent more time with them instead of being so stressed with school. This year I piled my schedule with AP and honors classes and multiple extracurriculars, which was extremely time-consuming, not to mention stressful. I had hours of homework on top of that, and I just felt too exhausted to spend time with the important people in my life. Not being able to see my friends and extended family right now has made me realize that they are what really matters, not necessarily my grade on that precalc test I agonized over.

Another thing that comes with being a junior is standardized testing. I’m the first kid in my family to go through high school, so all the prep books, private tutors, and classes were pretty overwhelming. I bought a few books and grinded on Khan Academy tirelessly for months in hopes of getting the perfect score. It is really easy to get caught up in the numbers and start to feel inadequate, analyzing them and comparing them to your peers, which is something I struggled with a lot. It took me a while to realize this, but after talking to successful adults and college students I know, they all told me the same answer: as long as you can get into college, your test scores don’t really matter as much as you think, especially when these tests are cancelled because of Covid. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself; study a little bit before your test date, don’t freak out too much about it, and just do your very best. You’re more than just a number, and colleges know that.

My main advice to those who are about to become juniors is to challenge yourself academically, but also give yourself the freedom to enjoy what really makes you happy. So seize every opportunity to do what makes you happy: take that art or music class, join that club, or do whatever inspires you. Now is the time to try new things and find what you are passionate about. While four years of high school seems like forever, you’re already halfway done. Enjoy the time you have here instead of checking Powerschool every hour (I may be speaking from experience there). Ultimately, what you’ll cherish from high school isn’t what grade you got on that chem test, but all of the meaningful experiences you have along the way.


A very stressed out junior

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