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Seniors’ advice for juniors

Junior and senior year are the most challenging years in high school. Having to juggle academics, extracurriculars, part-time jobs, and college preparation throughout both years is quite stressful. As a senior, I can certainly say that junior me would’ve loved some advice or guidance from the seniors. Hopefully, this collection of seniors’ advice will provide some insight on our experience and lessons learned for the juniors – and even sophomores – so they can be better prepared for senior year.

  1. “Build relationships with teachers.” – Janise Dixon 

In terms of college and scholarship applications, the purpose of building relationships with your teachers is so they can write you an authentic letter of recommendation. By building relationships with your teachers, through starting conversations or getting help on assignments after school, they get to know not only the kind of student you are, but also the kind of person you are. This is important because when admission officers read the letter of recommendations, they want to get a sense of who you are, what kind of student you are in the classroom, and how you will contribute to their college. 

☆Additional Tips: 1) You can start building relationships with your teachers as early as freshman year, but no later than sophomore year. 2) Teachers are just as busy as students so request a letter of recommendation at least a month before the deadline (also make sure to email them a reminder a week before the deadline). 3) Make sure to thank them for their time and consideration (they would greatly appreciate a hand-written letter).

2. “Start your Common App essays and short essays in the summer.” – Natsumi Kushiro

Completing college application essays is not something that’s done overnight; it’s a process and needs constant revising. If you aim to produce compelling essays, give yourself as much time as possible not only for writing them, but also understanding what admission officers are looking for and reading other successful college admission essays as a guidance. Additionally, “if you are applying to multiple colleges, each of them may have different prompts,” said Kushiro. This means you could end up writing as many as seven different essays, even though you can reuse some of them such as the personal statement. Most counselors and students recommend getting started on them the summer prior to senior year, since the school year will occupy you with homework and studying for exams. These are essays in high school that you definitely don’t want to procrastinate on. Writing essays is stressful, but focus on the process instead of the destination; otherwise, it will take you longer to get there.

☆Additional Tips: 1) It is helpful to get a fresh pair of eyes and a different perspective, so ask a teacher or classmate to look over your essay and give you feedback based on what aspects of the essay you want them to focus on (e.g. answering the prompt/s clearly, correct grammatical structure). 2) College Essay Guy is a very helpful resource when it comes to writing personal statements/supplementals and even college applications in general. Check him out. 3) Read. Pick up anything (e.g. fiction, magazines, etc.) to stimulate your mind. Reading will always, in the long-run, improve your writing skills.

3. “Remember that it’s just high school. Who cares what people think of you.” – Jordyn Tagudan

In high school, you get the amazing opportunity to join clubs, sports teams, and other organizations. Often, friends will participate in the same activities, or people will join a certain club simply because their peers did. This is normal and totally acceptable. But keep in mind that you shouldn’t feel pressured to do what you think others expect you to do. Just because your friends all want to join, for example, LEO Club, but you are more interested in Key Club, you don’t have to follow them out of the fear of being left out or no longer being friends with them. “Don’t let the fear of embarrassment or being judged stop you from doing what you want to do,” emphasized Tagudan. “In twenty years more than half the people you know now will be gone and out of your life. So it doesn’t really matter what they think.” In regards to sports, certain sports teams have a high population in a specific gender, whether male or female. For example, football typically consists of males and cheerleading typically consists of females. But some females may want to join football and some males may want to join cheerleading, which they should feel comfortable doing. If you want to join a club or an activity, do it and have fun.

4. “Education matters, but health matters more.” – Lienne Tung

One of the biggest, if not the biggest lesson, I learned in high school is that health should be made a top priority. However, this lesson was learned late and the hard way. I greatly value education and work ethic, but I used to be so obsessed with getting straight A’s and making everything perfect that I jeopardized my mental and physical health. Staying up until 12:00 or 1:00 in the morning to finish assignments resulted in low moods at school, lightheadedness when walking up the stairs, and focusing on lessons became harder due to heavy eyes. Admittedly, school became more miserable. Later, I reassessed my values and reflected on how I should deal with my situation. I realized that great test scores and straight A’s don’t matter if I have poor health and if I’m just getting assignments done for the purpose of earning full points. After all, going to school is all about learning – obtaining as much knowledge as possible – while doing the best I can without sacrificing my health. In a nutshell, work hard and come to school with a hunger for knowledge instead of just striving for amazing grades and high GPA’s; the effort and thought you put into each assignment will naturally follow with results worthy of praise. 

So to all the current and prospective juniors out there, be patient with yourself, stay resilient, keep an optimistic mindset, and do what’s best for you. When in need of help or assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the seniors, your teachers, or the counselors.


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