Taking on Junior Year in the Age of Uncertainty



   Junior year. For high schoolers, those two words are synonymous with extremely high stakes, stress levels, and pressure. It’s a year that will make or break your high school career and is integral to gaining admission into the colleges of your choice.

   Generally speaking, most students take their most challenging course load during this year and start a large part of preparation for the college application process. 

   They’re expected to decide on which colleges to apply to, prepare for and take their SATs and ACTs, and simultaneously focus on keeping their transcripts flawless and preparing for end-of-year exams. They’re also expected to juggle these already-difficult responsibilities with volunteering and extracurriculars, which are commonly overlooked but extremely important for the increasingly challenging and competitive college admissions process.

   Personally, seeing how the pandemic has affected not one, but two classes of juniors (2021 and 2022) has troubled me. I can’t imagine how it must feel to have to maneuver through virtual school, and so many other problems that have come with the virus, namely personal challenges and family financial struggles. 

   Covid-19 has upended basically all aspects of life across the globe, and that includes the college admissions process. With all of the adjustments that colleges have been forced to make, like going test-optional and understanding that students were unable to participate in outside activities, acceptance rates and numbers of applicants are all over the place. 

   Honestly, just thinking about that potentially happening when I start preparing for the college application process, and/or potentially having to complete some or all of a school year online– let alone the most important year of our high school experience– online, for the third time, is enough to make my skin crawl. 

   Change is not something that is comfortable for anyone, and especially not for people like me, who entered freshman year with a basic plan for their high school years and how they’d start preparing for college. 

  But now, as I’m finishing up my sophomore year, I know that everything about school and the future is uncertain, which is truly worrying and stress-inducing.

   Part of me feels like I need to accept that there’s a high probability that this… mess… will continue on for at least until I graduate, and that I need to just try my best to prepare and adjust, but the other part of me is still hopeful that things will go “back to normal,” or “back to normal” enough for traditional school and the college admissions process that we all know and love to return. That might be wishful thinking, but nevertheless, I’m trying my best to just take one day at a time, and stay optimistic, knowing that most of these things are simply out of my control.