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Being Present Now While Looking Ahead to the Future

Junior year is much like having two monitors on your desk. On one screen, you see your current life: AP classes, debate team, culture club president, captain of the swim team. On the other monitor, sitting just next to present reality, sits future plan: collegeand each screen is pulling for your attention. The juggle has begun as two time zones, present and future, exist together, and the key to success lies in your balance and your movement between them.

So cheers to you, the rising junior! Here’s to your transition this summer as you embark on the most important year of your high school experience. With challenging coursework, you will keep an eye on your official transcript, refine your college plan, and test your selections through campus visits. It’s almost impossible to not start daydreaming of Graduation Day and of starting the list of all the stuff you’ll pack in the car for your future dorm room.

Bring the Best of the Past with You

But wait! Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. In fact, let’s review what you have accomplished so far. When planning for the future, it is often useful to consider the past and define what has worked. Two years of high school training: check. As a freshmen and sophomore, you explored extracurriculars, met new kids, joined teams, and tested the strength of your coursework. You put yourself out there learning how to navigate tests, papers, and class discussions. You’ve tackled major projects, and in the midst of it all, you’ve learned a heck of a lot about yourself. Each decision you made along the way expressed your unique take on life.

You have set the groundwork and are now ready to continue to shape your path with intention. The trick is that this year requires a pivot in perspective. The world suddenly stretches beyond the daily routine, and planning for future endeavors takes you from the math test on Tuesday to your vision, dreams, and aspirations at Dream U—all in the same day. Life takes on a sort of split screen. You are driving the realities on both monitors right there in the thick of junior year.


Remember the first two years? Hard work, good choices? The same rule applies. And the key to realizing your future vision will be in your present achievement! What does this mean? Work hard and you will create options for yourself and forge a path for success that is right for you.

For right now: recognize the fact that you will be busy managing the day-to-day and planning ahead. Know that your performance is important. Junior year is a time for widening and deepening your commitments, such as expanding your number of AP courses or gaining a leadership position in an activity. Know yourself and consider your strengths (and challenges) and become expert in managing coursework and developing study skills.

Junior year covers lots of ground: tough courses, the PSAT, SAT or ACT prep, college lists, campus visits, becoming a peer mentor, activities, awards and accomplishments, portfolios, jobs, internship, summer pre-college courses, lists, recommendations, head of club or team, tech crew, auditions, just to name a few. Know what is expected of you and try to stay one step ahead of the bustle.

Pace Yourself

Keep your balance, eat well, sleep, exercise, and sleep some more. The year may be intense, but think about what has worked for you thus far. Keep a check on what you can regulate, such as the best way to study (for you), your activity choices, and how you spend time with friends. Accept what you cannot control, such as your English teacher’s method for grading essays, the standardized testing requirements at Dream U, or the coach’s required 6am practice on Saturday. Make single, good choices over an extended period of time, and you will find yourself headed in the right direction. So the key to your success next year will be doing what you have been doing all along, albeit in greater numbers, at a quicker pace, and with wider implications.

As you embrace the dynamic reality of junior year, understand the expectations, stay alert, commit to what you enjoy, and keep on top of your academic life. Remember that not all transitions are smooth as silk—there may be a glitch or two along the way. These experiences are important teachers as well, and always remember to call for help if needed. True independence lies in the ability to advocate for yourself!

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