You’ve heard about the dreaded, yet, legendary junior year since your first day of high school.The year where your homework is relentless, your test schedule out of control, and everything matters. College is on the horizon and you feel the weight of every decision. It all feels so overwhelming. I understand. Truly, I do. As the mom of two sons who recently went through the process, and as an essay adviser with many students applying to college, I’m well versed on the stress that stems from junior year.
Here are a few tips to reduce the stress and help embrace what can be a wonderful year.
1. Stay organized
Mom and Dad, here’s where you can help. Know your kid’s schedule. Sports tournaments. Dance recitals. Plays. Finals. AP exams. If they are not posted on the school/rec calendar, call. Knowing these dates ahead of time will help you pick the test dates that are most likely to work for your student. Plan ahead. The fewer conflicts, the less stress.
2. Pick a test.
SAT vs. ACT. Don’t waste time studying for both. Take a diagnostic test for each. You can find one in a study guide at your local library. Grab a seat in your house, set the kitchen timer, have a ready supply of snacks, water, no. 2 pencils, and begin. When you’re finished, score each test. What test did you perform better? Could you finish? How did it feel?
3. Take 2.
Once you’ve determined your preferred test, go on the site and check out the dates the tests are being given for the ACT and SAT. You want the opportunity to take the test 2 times in your junior year. The ideal plan is to wrap up testing in junior year so you’ll have the data you need to nail down your college list.
4. Subject tests.
Know the subjects being offered. Again, any library or bookstore will have practice tests. You can take one, give it a try and pick a date. Do you know that you can take up to 3 SAT subject tests in one sitting? It’s a long morning, but an option.
5. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Whether you take the SAT or the ACT, you want to be ready. It’s time to do practice tests. You can use a testing center, a private tutor, or a book from library. Take the whole test, and take it more than once. This helps you learn strategies like when to skip and when to guess. It also helps you understand your own stamina. Do you fade after the fourth section? Should you bring 3 protein bars instead of a yogurt? What works best? Know before you go in there.
6. Set a day, any day.
Don’t spend every dinner talking about college prep. Set aside a day and time for college talk. Sunday at 6 you discuss all college business for the week. Once 6:30 rolls around, all college chats are tabled until next Sunday. Try these tips to reduce some of the dreaded junior year stress.
Sometimes, the best defense is a great offense. Be prepared. Know what’s coming and plan, plan, plan.