Seven tips from a junior year survivor

Seven tips from a junior year survivor

Natalie Sweet

Being a junior is really tough – from college nights to applying for club positions, there’s a lot of new challenges that arise as you become an upperclassman. I’m no expert on surviving Horace Mann, but I have learned a lot of lessons over this past year that I really wish I knew beforehand.

Take care of yourself.

This especially includes getting sleep! Listen to what your body is telling you—if you have a raging headache because you’re working on an APUSH paper at 3 am, maybe it’s time to get some rest. But it’s also important to find a de-stressor that you can rely on to calm down. Maybe that means listening to Frank Ocean’s entire discography in bed. Maybe that means painting, or going for a long walk, or whatever helps you personally relax. This sounds like a really obvious tip, but it took me getting concussed to realize that I had no way of relaxing or taking care of myself. When I was injured, I could clearly see that I hadn’t been listening to my body even when I was healthy. I gravitated towards ceramics as a way to rest my brain and also explore creatively in a way that I didn’t have time to fully discover before I made the effort needed to take care of myself. You also might want to find something that doesn’t rely on other people—for example, not talking to a friend—because sometimes it can be hard to relax when around other people.

Teachers do not hate you for asking for extensions.

It’s okay to ask for extensions in certain situations. Though this shouldn’t be the case, I think there can be some internal shame that one might feel around asking for an extension because we are taught, in a way, that we are students first and people second. I am not encouraging students to try to get their due date extended if they don’t need it, but it’s important to recognize when too much is happening in your life—either in school or at home—to turn in an assignment. Especially in a global pandemic, teachers understand if you need an extra day or two because a take-home test might not be at the front of your mind.

If you think something at school needs to be changed or something can be added, take the initiative and go ahead!

Students are really receptive to new ideas, and the deans are helpful with bringing initiatives to life as well. Some examples of this are people bringing in guest speakers as ways to creatively expand our worldview beyond the classroom, like Jaden Kirshner (11) leading the Community Council’s (CC) Career Lecture Series or Chloe Kim (12) connecting the school with Liberty in North Korea, or ways to make the faculty’s life easier, such as Simon Schackner (10) starting “babysitting” zooms where students play games with the children of faculty so the staff can work in peace. Just know that your ideas are valid and there is totally space to start new things, regardless of whether you’re a member of the CC or not.

It’s not weird to show up in PJs.

If you don’t have time to put together a cute outfit, just remember that no one will remember or think badly of you if you do show up in old PJs! I spent a weird amount of time stressing about what I wore to school, which goes to show that no one will judge you for what you’re wearing because we’re equally all worried about what we’re wearing as well.

Fisher has a lot of good places to cry.

The art studios, the stairwell, the second-floor bathrooms that no one goes into, you name it. Or, if you’re quieter, the little orange spinny chairs in the library. Also, guidance and counseling is always available for check-ins if you need to talk to someone about what’s up.

Now is the time to drop things. Do it.

Between the end of sophomore year and the end of junior year, I dropped four clubs/extracurriculars and I am okay with that. If you are taking on too much, check in with yourself and see what you really want to dedicate time to. It is more important to focus on things you are passionate about than becoming the vice president of a random club just for college.

You can talk to your teacher about things other than the next test or quiz!

Talking to your teachers about things you found fascinating in class or outside of class is really enjoyable and rewarding. Just ask the five to six kids who lurk inside the English office to talk to any and all of the English teachers about New York Times articles, baseball, hatred of Shakespeare, and more.