Junior Year Survival Guide

Brace yourselves, sophomores…

Dear future juniors,

Is the thought of the infamous junior year slowly creeping up on your window, licking its lips in delight at all the nightmares it’ll give you? Okay, maybe I’m going a little too far, but you get my point. Well, today’s your lucky day! Loosen up that furrowed brow and let out a deep sigh – Blueprint’s got your back! Here’s a compilation of tips and thoughts from current and past juniors alike to help you embark on your new journey of junior year (dun dun dun…)

plan ahead1
Get your head together!

Yes, challenge yourself with difficult courses, but don’t over do it. You’re going to have a lot of things to do: APs, college visits, SAT/ACT preparations, and probably a multitude of extracurricular activities. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too many hard courses that will drag you down the entire year. Figure out what your priorities are and plan your schedule from there.

  • Yunji Lee (‘16): “Find balance. Don’t overwhelm yourself so much with academics that you don’t have any time for family and friends, but don’t slack off to the point where your grades start slipping.”
  • Jaye Ahn (‘16): “If I could do one thing over in junior year, it would be to focus a little less on my extracurriculars. Don’t sign up for every single opportunity just for the sake of it. Be mindful of your limits, your priorities, your health, and literally every decision you make.”
Give your heart (I mean, your brain) a break

Psychology has proven that prolonged stress manifests itself as physiological symptoms – this includes lack of sleep! Not sleeping is going to hurt your performance, even on assignments you have stayed up hours for, and your performance on the following day. Also, have some fun! #TREATYOSELF! One relaxing Saturday isn’t going to hurt you, nor your grades. If it does, you should seriously reflect on your time management skills. “I have too much to do” isn’t going to fly by as a legitimate excuse anywhere – not even as a junior.

  • Hannah Park (‘16): We unconsciously believe that juniors have this unspoken right to procrastinate, sleep in class, be late to school, or etc., just with the excuse of being a junior. If students can continue to hold a positive mindset to set good examples for other students, junior year will be easier to cope with!”
  • Subin Hur (‘16): You will be surprised to realize that it is possible to sleep before 12 AM even with four APs – as long as you know how to stay away from social media. Sleep when people party and work when people sleep. If you take naps from 4PM~12AM (which I usually do), virtually nobody will be online by the time you start working, so you don’t need to worry about being distracted. ***successful social life not guaranteed***
Do your best, and leave the rest!
  • Stephanie Yang (‘15): I feel like some people believe that they have to do certain things to set themselves up for the college application process, like choosing the most “prestigious” or popular KIS club, or doing a ton of community service just for the sake of the hours. Do what you want, because, ultimately, your version of the “perfect” student on paper may not be that unique: you might stand out more by being a part of the Christian club.


College doesn’t determine your future, and junior year doesn’t determine (well, completely determine) your college acceptances. You might attend an Ivy League and learn nothing, and you can go to the dreaded-by-KIS, small liberal art school and squeeze all opportunities you possibly can to be enlightened, it’s all up to you. You determine how valuable college experience is, not the name of the college.


So, bottom line: don’t freak out. To be honest, from what I believe, junior year is not worthy of much worry. It should be just like any other time of you high school career: simply do your very best, accept the consequences – positive and negative – and move on and work with what you have.

  • Michelle Hahm (‘15): I would say, do everything with 110% effort, to a point where you know you can say, “I’ve done my best” by the time you are done with whatever big or small task you are working on. The same outlook should be for non-academic goals as well.

college fairs

I know, I know, our counselors have reiterated this multiple times, but, personally, I found great value in attending different college fairs. College fairs are never about binding yourself to a few colleges that you attend their visits for, nor is it about impressing the international delegates (s/he probably won’t remember you anyway). It’s about letting the college know that you had prior interest in their school before senior year starts and learning about distinct cultures and opportunities of different schools.


Some specific points to keep in mind:

  • Don’t solely rely on bigfuture.collegeboard.org. Find what is important to you – internship opportunities, financial aid, programs of interest, sports, school ambience (aka boon-wee-gui), class sizes – and visit the school’s website beforehand to ask specific questions.
  • Ask yourself, what is special about this particular college that distinguishes itself from the other colleges?
  • If financial issue is daunting for you, make sure to ask about international scholarship/financial aid availability and on-campus work programs. Some schools have a limited number of scholarship applications for international students.
  • Ask about the application process. Not all common-app colleges are the same. Is choosing a major highly suggested (i.e. required)? How are international students’ applications viewed? If you are a dual citizen living in Korea, are you considered as an American applicant or an international applicant? Be a pest and squeeze the juice out of our college counselors! Don’t feel bad, that’s what they’re here for!
keep going
Fake it ‘till you make it

Let me tell you a little secret about junior year: no one knows what they’re doing. You just go with the flow, submit daily assignments, practice SAT/ACT problems, research colleges, etc. etc. But quite frankly, no junior has completely mapped out their near or far future – and really, no one can. Junior year is an entity of confusion and constant changes; you’re going to be stabbed in the back by things you’ve never expected. If you think taking AP Biology makes you a “science” person? Think again, AP Physics is a whole other realm in itself, and at times, it will make sure you suffer and doubt yourself. Think acing 10th grade British literature makes you a good writer? Think again, for AP language is a whole other amalgam of frustration (and, of course, satisfaction, at the end of the day).

My point is, you’re going to hit slumps – quite often. But that doesn’t mean you are a bad person, it doesn’t mean you’re a lacking student, and it definitely doesn’t mean your academic career is going downhill. Keep pushing yourself, and keep in mind that many of your peers are hitting rock bottom alongside you.

You are more than fine, and you will be more than fine no matter what grade you are getting in APUSH, no matter what score you received on the January SAT, and no matter what college you get accepted to. Life – and frankly junior year, too – is more than the numbers. Have fun discovering what this “more” is for you!

Headers by Yunji Lee

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