The Junior year is the year that colleges will focus on. They would rather see a C+ in a challenging advance class than an A+ in a low level class. Senior Marie Russ agrees, “Take the more challenging classes… [they] look good on college applications.” Also junior year, take the SAT or the ACT.
But if the Junior year of high school is the hardest, then Senior year is the most stressful, with the daunting task of applying to colleges and passing the classes you need to graduate. Senior year, you need to take challenging classes so it doesn’t seem like you’re slacking off, apply to colleges and scholarships, get your stuff (baby picture, final farewell, etc.) into the yearbook, and actually pass your classes.
Signe Goddard sums up the four years of high school pretty well:
In your freshman and sophomore year, you have a much more strict schedule, with classes that you have to take in order to graduate. In junior and senior year, you have more freedom to challenge yourself. I would recommend challenging yourself in those years as much as you can, because you will grow as a student and a person by doing that, but also colleges will see that you were determined and took challenges when you could.
On top of all those things, a lot of seniors have jobs, sports, theater, and who knows what else is going on in their busy lives. Marie Russ said, “I have Sweeney Todd rehearsals every night but Wednesday (and occasionally on a Wednesday) and an online class, and Branching Out.” She has a lot going on in her life, on top of school. Dana Griffin, another senior, says, “I have homework, school, my job, bills to pay, looking for a place to stay, two CCV (Community College of Vermont) classes, and applying to college on top of that.”
This diagram is how many people see the dilemma facing students in this stressful part of high school. The option of choosing a social life and good grades means you won’t get enough sleep. Teens need 8-10 hours of sleep to function properly. According to a study the National Sleep Foundation conducted, only 15 percent of students got eight and a half hours of sleep on a school night. Yet, if you choose good grades and enough sleep, you won’t have time for a social life. This is also saying that your grades will slip if you choose a social life and enough sleep.
Do all of the things seniors have going on in their lives actually cause them stress, or is that picture an over exaggeration? According to Russ, “This year, as a senior, is significantly more stressful [than junior year].” She’s mostly worried about getting into her reach college, Dartmouth, because it’s very hard to get into. Goddard is worried about meeting her January 1st deadline while Russ was worried about meeting her deadline for her essay (she barely submitted them in time). Russ says, “It’s difficult to get things in on time, especially the essays, because I need to work with Mary, the White Table Academic Support Coordinator, on them, and we don’t always have time.” Both Goddard and Russ agree that the essays are one of the more difficult parts of the application process.
Ellen Cooke, a high school counselor, says:
“The college application time period is a hassle, period. Whether it’s early, medium, or late, it’s all out there in front of you. One of the reasons it’s very stressful is because of all the things students have on their plates with school, work, extracurriculars, etc. And it’s something out there in front of you that you can’t see yet, and it indicates transition, a big one.”
“Not knowing what the future holds is incredibly scary, and as a senior, you want to have as many things figured out as possible, but sometimes that simply cannot happen. You can’t control everything; you have to just try to be as prepared for life after high school as you can, and the rest will follow. For example, you can control what you put in your applications and how you present yourself, but you can’t control whether you will be accepted.”