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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The truth about junior year, the hell year

Every day when I walked in to Spanish class during sophomore year, I would hear all the juniors complaining about the inhumanly large amount of homework they had to complete, the impossible tests they had coming up and the two hours of sleep they usually got. This didn’t surprise me because that was basically all they talked about.

Back then, I wondered if junior year was really as terrible as they described. So, I asked them. They stared back listlessly with tired eyes, gaunt faces and permanently frowning mouths; their appearances answered my question.

During the summer, I refused to think about what was to come in the next year.

Despite my initial glimpses of what junior year was like, I decided to push down my pessimism and embrace the new beginning.

So school began, and in the very first week of school, I had a total of four quizzes. Four. Granted, many of them were class policy quizzes, but they were still quizzes.

For the next nine months, I did indeed experience much of what my classmates had warned me about. There were nights I was up so late I wondered what people were thinking I was doing at 3 a.m.
Sometimes my hand would cramp up after a long block of writing English journals, and it would take a while before I could feel normal circulation in my fingers. When I would occasionally lose my graphing calculator, I would run around frantically trying to figure out how I was going to do calculus without having to spend a hundred dollars on a new one. (Of course, when I found the calculator under a pile of papers, I would laugh at myself for being worried.)

Studying for SAT tests as well as doing homework was not a pleasant experience either. I memorized words that I didn’t even think existed. I have never used “obstreperous” in a sentence and probably never will. (Awkward, I just did.)

Somehow, I ended up going through all of the experiences that I had been told about, and it was not at all easy. There were late nights and too many tests and homework assignments. But when I was a sophomore, what the juniors did not tell me about were the amazing classes and moments that junior year also held.

As much as I hated studying for tests, I loved the moments in class where everything just flowed. Discussions about books, group projects and funny presentations in class made some of the stress melt away.

One day in Honors English class, when we were reading “Hamlet,” my teacher Amy Keys asked two students to act out a scene, while another two students read their lines out loud. Since Hamlet was supposed to be acting crazy, the whole class laughed at the antics of the student who portrayed Hamlet. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. It was painful yet hilarious. Though both of their faces were bright red, I could tell both the actors enjoyed it as well.

If there is one thing that did make junior year harder than necessary, it was procrastination. I admit, sometimes I put off assignments a little longer than I should have. I had free time, but I used it for less productive things, like catching up on TV shows instead of getting ahead on English reading. Procrastination is your enemy. No matter how lovely that nap sounds, fight the urge. Trust me, it will feel better once all your work is finished.

Yet, I will also admit that many students exaggerate the amount of homework that juniors receive. While it is much more than sophomore year, it is still possible to get eight hours of sleep every day and still get stellar grades. I have friends who can sometimes get more than eight hours of sleep. I have no idea how, but they do it. Basically, the homework stress level depends on how diligent the student is.

As the year winds down, I think I am a stronger and wiser person for surviving junior year. Now that it is finally over, first semester senior year will be round two because this time I’ve got college applications as well. Oh, dear. I fear for my sanity. 

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