PSAT. SAT. ACT. AP Tests. College Visits. Importance of grades. “The most important year of high school”. I’m sure that most of the upperclassman realize that I’m describing junior year. Dubbed as ‘the year with the most stress I’m sure that all of my fellow seniors are pretty proud of themselves for having survived endless standardized tests while trying to maintain good grades with an excruciatingly demanding workload. Although I do not want to undermine how stressful junior year inevitably is, I feel like every member of the class of 2013 would agree that the first two months of senior year have been the most stressful of their high school careers.
What many people fail to realize during junior year is that everything that is causing stress, is only meant to set you up for August-November (in most cases) of the following year. It is during this time where actual decisions have to be made. Where are you applying? How many schools will you apply to? When will you have time to fill out applications, or write essays, or supplements? Similar to sports, junior year was full of practices and drills leading up to senior year- the actual game that decides where you will spend the next four years of your life.
It’s ironic how much I thought I knew during junior year. I went on my first college visit during spring of my sophomore year- early, I know- and from the moment I walked onto the small liberal arts campus, I was hit with “that love-at-first-sight feeling” (it does exist!). That school was everything I could have hoped for, it was where I could see myself happy. The next year I went on many more visits to colleges, all very similar to the first, not keeping an open mind to any school that I deemed to different from what I thought I knew I liked.
It took spending three weeks in Italy independently this past summer for me to realize that I needed to break out of the comfort zone I had enclosed myself in. I came home from this trip ready to explore bigger colleges and universities all throughout the country, making sure that every college I was interested in had a good study abroad program. I am currently applying to colleges that are a variety of sizes, unsure of what I want, but confident that I will be happy wherever I end up. And on the off-chance that I’m not, I’ll be just another number alongside the approximate 2.5 million college students in the United States that transfer each year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Though the process of applying may be stressful, college is definitely a freeing experience. Undergoing the college search you learn a lot about yourself. There are so many great options for colleges and gap years after high school that there is most definitely something for everyone. Don’t believe me? It’s never too early to start doing your own research on colleges. Even though you might hear seniors complain about application deadlines and college confusion, there are parts of the college search that are enjoyable. The process is only as stressful as you make it, and in the end the infinite exciting possibilities for the future will make everything worth it.
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