Hello Wonderfully Talented, Engaging, Intellectual, and Fun Junior Year High School Student,
We hope your school year is off to a great start! Recently, several of us started reflecting on our own junior year high school experiences, and we quickly remembered what an exciting time it was. We recalled joining extracurricular clubs, taking on term-time jobs to save money for college, loading up on AP classes and the stress that ensued, and feeling the impending weight of the college search process. It wasn't long into this conversation that we decided we wanted to compile some tips for you as you embark on the latter half of your high school years to help you have YOUR BEST YEAR YET!
1. Know that you still have lots of time.
The days might be flying by, and you might feel busy and rushed, but YOU. HAVE. TIME. You still have two more years of high school to try a new club (seriously, try something new!), hone a skill (dig deeper into something you love), get to know your teachers (ask them about their interests!), and/or make a new friend (we can all use another friend). Don't get too far ahead of yourself in thinking about what comes after high school that you don't stop to make the most of where you're at right now. Make the most of the two years you have left in high school.
2. Have courage.
It's important to recognize that everyone's story is unique, and you don't have to travel the well-trodden path to get where you want to go...or where everyone else is going. Have courage to try something different, to take an unusual class, to break out of the script to follow your interests. We find that the most interesting applications are those of students who march to the beat of their own drums. That could be you if you are brave enough to carve your own path.
3. Get organized in your search.
Yes, we just said to not get too far ahead of yourself in college searching, but it doesn't hurt to start collecting college information, and to do so in an organized way. Start a journal, make a spreadsheet (or 2 or 3 or 4...we love spreadsheets), and start gathering information about the places that could be interesting to you. Your senior year self will thank you for this research. Here's where we suggest you start for Tufts.
4. Find outlets and support if/when you get overwhelmed.
Junior year might throw some curveballs, and there might be times when you get stressed out. It's okay to feel stressed, and the challenge is to find ways to relieve that stress in a healthy way. Go for a walk, spend time with friends, disconnect from technology, listen to music, sleep (!), do something fun! (My coworker, Trenton, compiled a list of our office's books and music recommendations!) There is a lot of evidence that having hobbies will make you more productive when you're ready to do work! Learning what relaxes you or re-centers you will serve you well the rest of your life, I promise. And the process of seeking help and support is another skill that is important. So chat with a friend, family member, guidance counselor, mentor about what's going on in your life. We all need help sometimes.
5. And finally, be your authentic self.
The college admissions process can drive people to pursue things they *think* admissions officers will want to see. We truly mean it when we say that we much prefer to read applications when people have been authentically pursuing their interests and really being themselves in their high school years. We have no standard rubric for what we are looking for in an applicant. We care about what you care about. So back to #2--have the courage to be yourself and spend time doing the things that bring meaning, joy, and value to your life.
We hope this is helpful, and please be in touch if you ever need a pep talk or another tip or word of encouragement.
You got this.