A Guide To Surviving Junior Year


Sylvie S.-J.

Looking cool and surviving junior year.

It is 11:53 p.m. on a Monday night, and I’m grinding out an annotated bibliography, building a playlist (themes include fruitcake and quails), and writing this article. It feels like I’ve been stuck in this routine since the beginning of my junior year: completing bizarrely stressful assignments whilst running on half a matcha horchata and sheer willpower. That said, I have survived thus far. So despite what you may have heard about junior yearthe workload, the college stuff, the seeming impossibility of it allI’m here to tell you that it will be fine. Will there be many failures, nights of little sleep, and lots and lots of work? Absolutely. Will there be moments when all you can do is blast Johnny Cash, refresh Turnitin, and cry about how you were mocked for not doing a push-up in PE? Without question. But this year is resoundingly, unquestionably survivable. Here are my top three tips to survive your junior year.

1. Find that #supportsystem. 

I know it sounds like a load of porcupine poo, but having a solid group of people to support you (emotionally, physically, spiritually, cosmically, etc.) is a necessityall the time, but especially during junior year. An ideal support system consists of humans who know you and what your life is like and are usually emotionally available enough to hear about it. It’s nice to have an adult on campus who knows what’s up; I’ve been saved a fair few times by having someone to cry about the woes of Westridge life who’s been through it before. The real flex is having a well-developed internal support system. Be your own hero. Figure out what helps when everything sucks: crafting cryptic playlists that reference Pablo Escobar, roaming around your neighborhood like a feral bobcat, lighting them Ikea candles, gyrating to Flo Rida. You need to learn how to take care of yourself. That said, it’s also vital to have people who can help care for you when the going gets rough. Believe in yourself, believe in others, and surround yourself with people who believe in you. 

2. “Work smarter, not harder” is your mantra. 

Find the academic skill that you’re good at. Maybe you can articulate the nuances of Hester Prynne’s motherhood or Gilead’s fragile religiosity without doing the nightly reading. Maybe trigonometry just makes sense. Maybe word-vomiting history papers is a freakish talent. Whatever your skill is, identify it, lean in hardand then chill out. Knowing you can put fifty percent into a class or assignment and do well means you can direct your energy and time elsewhere. This is not a cop-out. This is smart time management. This is lifehacking at its finest. You don’t need to give everything all you have all the time. It’s impossible to give everything all you have. You’re not Tom Cruise on his 13th Mission Impossible attempting to outrun impending global disaster. Tom Cruise isn’t even Tom Cruise all the time. Relax. Watch Friday Night Lights on Netflix. It’s okay to do the bare minimum required to sustain your version of academic excellence. Get the work done without breaking yourself (physically or emotionally). And then use the spare time to write nihilistic slam poetry about naked mole rats. 

3. Don’t let the college stuff get to you. 

Tall order, I know. It’s difficult to articulate the emotional and spiritual havoc that the College Admissions Machine wreaks on even the sturdiest of Westridge students. You’ve probably microdosed it throughout your academic career, but come mid-January, it all becomes frighteningly tangible with the addition of the College Process class. And Circle Groups. And one-on-ones. And the multitude of events and expectations and, dear God, the pressure. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to be hyper-anxious, eager, disinterested, or confused, so long as you seem reasonably invested in the process. One of the most helpful pieces of advice I’ve received is that colleges don’t want crazy, stressed-out kids. And it’s trueanyone who’s ever seen Felicity will know that college will be amazing in a multitude of ways. Existentially flaming out before you get there is at best unhelpful and at worst a loser move. You will be fine. I will be fine. We will all be fine.