Guide to Being a Second Semester Junior

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Let’s get this out of the way. I have only been a second-semester junior for a few weeks. Still got 13 to go. I am no expert. But I’ll try to be.
The most popular topic of conversation for any second semester junior, and any Westminster student, for that matter, is college. In just a short year, we will all be donning our caps and gowns and heading off to our dream school. But first we have to get in, and before that, we have to survive junior year. As we’ve all heard, second-semester junior year grades are the most important grades for all of high school (But that doesn’t mean you can slack off as an underclassman). With that stress hanging over our heads, it can be hard to think of anything but college, which we, of course, know will inevitably determine our future: our jobs, where we live, our friends, who we marry, how much money we make, who wins the 2035 world series, how many kids we have, how happy we are. All decided by how we do on Tuesday’s Spanish quiz. You better study. Well, it’s not actually like that. Princeton won’t deny you because you got an 89 on your third Spanish quiz junior year. Princeton will instead deny you because your GPA dropped two points second-semester junior year. Grades are important, just not life or death. It’d do you some good to think about that every now and again.
College is becoming a little more real. It’s close, but not so close. I met with my college counselor. Twice! I had to make a list of potential colleges. I need to schedule college visits over breaks. This time next year I might even know where I’m going.
For that life-changing decision, we should begin getting in order everything we need for the infamous college apps. I won’t waste too much time here; we’ve got a whole article to get through before either of us can check Snapchat again. First and most important is testing. We have to take the SAT and/or ACT, and then because we are all perfectionists, take it again (and again…). If I was you, I’d spend more time studying and less time taking real ones. I am taking the SAT twice, but only because I did poorly on the math sections. I did well on reading and writing. Can you tell? Then comes the question of who is going to write your letters of recommendation. You better start going to Office Hours. What about leadership positions? You’ll need a few of those, and by God, don’t let them be fake!
You also need to plan your summer, apply for jobs that don’t conflict with your family’s trip to Mykonos, sign up for fancy internships where you haul around boxes. It will often seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s how it feels writing this article. My tip for that is to be organized, specifically with your time. The easiest way to organize your time is to create a stable after-school schedule. I have made my own schedule pretty clear cut. I begin homework at 8, after I run track, eat dinner with my family, shower and practice piano. Then I work until 11:30 (or whenever the homework ends, which it never seems to do) with one break at 9:30 to watch Miley Cyrus swing on a wrecking ball wearing just work boots for three and a half minutes. In my last five years at Westminster, I have heard a lot of kids complaining about how or why teachers give us so much homework. My theory is that teachers give us so much homework because they don’t know what we would do with any free time. Groom award-winning dogs? Knit afghans? Make bath bombs? They’re honestly curious. “We watch TV,” I tell them.
Aside from these easy tasks, the pinnacle of the second semester of junior year comes at the beginning of April, Prom. Now I can imagine some of you asking, “how are you fit to tell us about prom. You’ve never been yourself!” Well, you’d be wrong there, buddy; I have been before – I went last year as one of the few, the proud (not Marines, but) sophomore boys. Major shoutout to my super cute senior girlfriend Grace. As a general rule of thumb, boys should begin asking right before Spring Break. This is when us guys finally get a taste of what it’s like to be a freshman girl in January, when PDC invites come out. And two years later, we’re just as clueless. Who you ask is important, but shouldn’t be as stressful as many make it out to be. If you’re dating someone (like I am), it’s easy, just take your girlfriend. If you’re not, you can always take a girl that you are friends with. This can be nice because it takes away any romantic pressure that I think too many experience at prom. You can also ask a girl that you’ve had your eye on for a while, but never worked up the courage to ask out. But be warned, there is risk involved in this approach. First, if you don’t know the girl well enough you might end up having an uncomfortable time; just sitting behind her in Pre-Calc doesn’t mean you’re going to connect once you have to, you know, talk. Second, girls can imbue a lot of meaning into a prom ask. Some might think that this is the first step towards a serious relationship. And if going steady isn’t your plan, you might have to traverse an emotional minefield once it’s over.
Soon, it’ll be time for the big event. On the night, you should arrive fashionably late – I think I got there around 45 minutes after it started last year. This allows enough time for things to get going. Then you should head straight for the dance floor. Don’t be that kid that is too cool or too shy to dance. Just have fun! For tips on the best dance moves to use at Prom, I would talk to Declan Thanner, last year’s unofficial Prom king. And after Prom, you only have 7 more weeks to endure. But now you have more, 10, 11? I have 13. Hopefully, you learned something from this quick tangent that’ll help you survive them – that was my aim. So, go forth and finish junior year, unless of course, you aren’t a second-semester junior, in which case, shoo! What’re you doing here?

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