Dear Rising Juniors,
Welcome to the hardest year of high school. Now, it's different for everyone, but one statement is always a fact: this year is very important. You're touring colleges, joining honors societies, balancing school work with extra curricular activities, and much more, which can become overwhelming at times.
Your highest priority should always be your mental health. You should make sure that you are getting enough sleep, eating properly, and taking care of yourself. If that means that you have to take a sick day to gather yourself, you have the right to do so. No one can absorb information if their mind is not in the right state to receive it. That means that if your head is bobbing during a lesson or your stomach starts growling during a test, you should do your best to fix that problem to the future. This does not mean that you should miss an entire week and a half of school because you did not feel like dealing with your teachers. In life, you can not avoid certain circumstances or situations, you just have to push through and think of the end goal. All you have to do is get through that class, and you will be one step closer to walking across a stage to get your diploma.
Grades should be next on your list. Yes, A's are preferred by colleges, teachers, parents, etc., but sometimes, that is just not possible. The important thing to remember is to work your hardest, as long as you are doing your absolute best, you will be okay. I also recommend asking for extra help if you are having trouble understanding something. By now, you should know that asking for extra help is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, use your resources: older friends, tutors, help sessions, online videos, etc. Crash Course and Khan Academy are both amazing resources, do not be afraid to use them.
Next, I urge you to learn from my mistakes in regards to taking the ACT and SAT. If you have a moderate grade point average, those tests can improve your appeal towards colleges. They view it as if you understand the material, but you maybe did not have a good teacher or did not thrive in the environment. My mistake was not taking either one of those test during junior year. You should try and take one of each test without studying first, to learn where you can improve and study up on, and then once again during the next semester after studying. If your score is still not high enough for you, you can always take both tests again during the summer or the first part of your senior year. If you spread out those dates, it takes off a lot of stress and opens up more time for you to involve yourself in other things.
The last thing on your list should be extra curricular activities and honors societies. Clubs such as Beta Club and National Honors Society require grade point average requirements. If you do not meet those requirements, I suggest joining a community service club. It also helps to join a club that you are genuinely interested in, and typically, there are lots of options: creative writing, theatre, sports, film, book club, yearbook, DECA, you name it. Colleges want to see that you can balance academics with pretty much anything life can through at you, so they acknowledge your schedule and how packed it is. Not to mention that nourishing your habits can serve as some calm in the middle of the hurricane that is high school.
I promise that all of the stress you feel will not be the end of the world. It is important to take this year one step at a time and not overwhelm yourself, that does not end well for anyone. Just take a deep breath, and you'll make it through.
Good luck, you've got this.