Maybe you're an eighth grader getting ready to start high school in a few months, or maybe you're a junior almost done with the supposedly "toughest year of high school." Or maybe you're smack-dab in the middle of sophomore year, overwhelmed by everything around you. Sounds familiar? You'll be happy to know that for the most part, too, that 11th grade has nothing on the horrors of 10th grade. So what makes them so starkly different in difficulty?
1. People still do not take you seriously.
You're still in the bottom half of the high school, and you're still a lot shorter than that senior walking past you in the hallway. People in the year above you still see you as the little freshman from before, and you're trying so desperately to prove that as a 10th grader, you're a lot wiser now. Keep in mind, though, that after an entire year of stress, stress and more stress, you'll be wishing to revert back to the first day of high school.
2. Certain classes start taking over your life.
For me? AP World History, easily the most difficult class I have ever taken throughout high school.
I am not a history buff, nor do I think I ever will be. And that's one of the biggest reasons why I just could not understand the content in the class. On top of that, it was my first class of the day, I'd have hours of work for the class to finish each night and I just couldn't find any interest. So why, pray tell, did I take the class? Because everyone else was.
Because I succumbed to the peer pressure surrounding taking AP World History, I found myself struggling to stay afloat. Every test was just another issue after the previous one, and I'd even feel like crying and not knowing what to do to get through the class. I bet there will be a class like that, no matter how interested you are in its content, and you will have those horrible days where you don't know how to get out.
3. You realize that freshman year was almost too easy.
Way, way too easy. I was having fun in freshman year, and that shouldn't even be happening when I'm supposed to be growing up into a high schooler. And that's mainly because freshman year is a transition year where no one expects too much out of you. It's like a buffer year in which you're on autopilot while observing how upperclassmen have to manage their own stress.
Sophomore year is when everything you've observed in ninth grade has to come into play, and you're suddenly thrown into a hurricane that won't stop until that very last school day. Sounds like fun.
4. People keep telling you that "junior year only gets worse than this."
Is that true? Nope.
Junior year is a lot less stressful than people make it out to be, and maybe that's because you're so used to the idea of it being an impossible year to conquer. Honestly, all I realized is that the key to a successful year is just choosing the right course load and toning down the out-of-school duties so I could balance out the two parts of my life. Junior year is not anywhere as bad as sophomore year, and that's a guarantee.
5. You feel like you've already lost a year of high school to impress colleges.
Graduation's coming sooner than you think.
Because freshman year comes off as so easy, I remember thinking that I did not take advantage of how lax my year was. Come sophomore year, I felt like I had to join another club, take another class, do another project. The work kept piling on because I thought in ninth grade that high school was always going to be so easy. In fact, sophomore year makes it the complete opposite.
But don't base your success on what you believe colleges will think of your every action. Look at your career holistically, and notice the trends you tend to take that have gotten you to where you are.
6. Other people start taking you seriously. Too seriously.
Remember a few points back when I said no one takes you seriously? There are the few special people who scrutinize absolutely everything you do and do their best to make you unnecessarily stressed about things you shouldn't be worrying about so young.
"Thought of your specific dream college that you want to attend the minute high school is over?"
"Know every single class you'll be taking in your second semester of senior year?"
Questions like these pop up out of the blue and from the same few suspects, and they're meant to scare you. Don't be spooked by these people; they either want what's best for you or are wasting their own time trying to make other people upset.
7. You begin to underestimate yourself and your capabilities.
When teachers keep expecting more from you as the year goes on and extracurricular activities are making you feel more and more on edge rather than de-stressed, you feel as if this isn't how you should be feeling. You think you're supposed to be on top of everything given to you because that's why you chose that certain rigor for your sophomore year. This happened with me last year when AP World History was becoming too much work, and there was this one week when I couldn't even leave my room because I thought I'd be losing too much time for my assignments.
8. Peer pressure makes you start questioning your good decisions.
Peer pressure gets the best of us.
Peer pressure and good decisions aren't supposed to mix, but they happen to make the perfect mixture of stress and worry. Especially when everyone boasts about the classes they're taking or the activities they're a part of, you feel so utterly compelled to throw yourself into the same pathway, even if you have no interest in what others are doing.
This always happens with me and others when course recommendations for the next year come out. When you're told to choose a whole new set of classes, you can't help but take a pointer or two from others who seem to know what they're doing.
9. In some classes, you're forced to be with upperclassmen you don't know.
This happened in a few of my classes, and it was so painful to be the one sophomore in a room full of juniors and seniors with a few sophomores sprinkled here and there. It's scary to be in a room where the people around you are taller than you and know a lot more about the world than you do. You feel like that one small fish in a big, big pond.
10. People start talking more about this thing called "class ranks."
You've definitely heard of it somehow and somewhere in your life. But people start taking the concept really, really seriously starting the end of sophomore year. You'll hear foreign whispers about it, almost as if it's a forbidden secret that you're not yet supposed to know about. And you'll eventually wish that you never heard about it when people starting comparing themselves based on such rankings.
11. Even before sophomore year begins, you don't know what classes to take.
An empty classroom.
When you take a cookie-cutter schedule from ninth grade and get asked to choose from a slew of new courses in 10th grade, you have to ask yourself what you want to get interested in. And on top of that, you might find so many classes you're genuinely intrigued by that you have to find the balance between fun classes and core classes. Sophomore year's independence can sometimes be burdensome.
12. You get put into way more group projects than before.
Of course, being a team player is an important aspect of being successful in the future, but in most group projects I've been a part of, no one works on the project at all until the night before the project is due. And when you're constantly thrown into groups of people you've never talked to and who won't work on the project until the night before, you get stressed way beyond what's considered normal.
13. Time starts flying really quickly, and that's not always a good thing.
Yeah, yeah, time flying quickly does mean the weekend will come sooner and that summer break is getting closer, but your long-term decision making begins in sophomore year. Surprisingly, a lot of your decisions about your future start playing themselves out in 10th grade itself, and you have to control time itself to make sure you don't forget anything as you rush through each day.