Becoming a junior in high school is both exciting but nerve wracking. You are finally considered an upperclassmen and graduation is only two years away. But now, you have to figure out what college sparks your interest, along with what major/ minor you would pursue. You also may start to wonder about scholarships and how to apply for them. Even though the future is unknown, you can start to work on your future by starting now.
Below, I have listed a few goals and points to focus on during your junior year of high school.
Every year, students set goals to get good grades and pass their classes. Many times, this goal falls through due to other activities in a school environment (sports, friends, etc.). Since your junior year is the year colleges look at, put your all into earning good grades. The process of earningg good grades throughout the year can be tricky, especially if you are taking Move On When Ready/ AP Courses. However, with effective study habits and time management, your grades will begin to rise.
Going back to my first point, an important goal to have for your junior year is to have good grades in all your classes. To tackle this goal, great study skills need to be set into place. If this is your first year of practicing study habits, the internet will be your best resource. There are thousands of articles, online guides and videos to watch about different studying methods. Of course, the flash card method and reviewing your notes are helpful, but it is important to create a unique and fun studying routine! Create a game, set rewards for yourself, etc. Find a method or two that works with you and roll with it.
As human beings, we tend to have a hard time juggling everything on our everyday plate. As juniors, some of us participate in extracurricular activities and sports while others work at a job or an internship. Though all of these are excellent, trying to cram extracurricular, jobs, school work, hobbies, friends and family time all into a 24 hour period can be difficult. A method I’ve tried that’s worked is ranking my priorities. Your priorities are tasks that need to be dealt with immediately; and others ranking lower on the list are secondary tasks to deal with. Priorities may include school, sports and family while lesser ranked items may include friends, personal projects, etc. With a weekly/ hourly calendar, I spread my priorities out over a set amount a days to tackle. Then, in empty spaces, I fill in items from list of lower priorities. This allows you to: visualize your tasks laid out for a weekly period and also allows you to set specific times to deal with different tasks.
Your College Search
As mentioned before, junior year is the year to figure out what colleges you plan on considering. When searching colleges, there are a few questions to consider:
• Are you staying in-state or out of state?
• What schools have the majors and minors that spark your interest?
• Do you want to go to an HBCU, a private, or a prestigious college?
• How much college credit will this college accept?
The list of questions goes on and can be overwhelming. Do not stress yourself about it. By analyzing these FAQs, you will narrow down your list of colleges that you can apply to. Do not hesitate to talk about colleges with your counselor at your school. They will provide you with plenty of information and resources to help along with your college search.
Majors and Minors
Along with searching what college you plan to attend, juniors need start figuring out what they would like to major/minor in during college. Some colleges allow you to have one major and one minor while others allow you to double/triple major (you can look into more of this depending on the college(s) you look into.)
When trying to decide what your major/minor should be, think about your favorite subjects along with passions, hobbies, etc. Think about your career and look into the fields of studies for that career. Again, never hesitate to speak with your counselor about majors and minors you’re considering. Even though your major is up to you, gaining advice from a counselor (and the internet) will help your search.
Scholarships and Saving for College
Going to college is an amazing experience but can be expensive. Because of this, consider looking into scholarships. Talk to your counselor about scholarships, both locally and nationally. The Internet is also an amazing source to find scholarships. Websites, such as Fastweb, are excellent resources to categorize scholarships based on you majors and passions. Challenge yourself to see how many you can apply for. Give yourself a set amount of scholarships to do each month. When you meet your goal, give yourself a reward.
Along with scholarships, many juniors during this time should consider applying for a job. This leads to more responsibility, but allows students to save money for themselves. With this money, it will be tempting to spend it on video games and clothes. But, again, college is expensive. Putting a few dollars aside for college is always a smart idea. You will never know when it will come in handy.
Although your junior in high school focuses on academics, you can add personal goals as well. For me, a personal goal is anything that I would like to accomplish for the betterment of myself. At this point in my life, my personal goals are geared towards my passions and my future career (a writer.) As a person who has a strong passion for the creative arts, I do set aside personal goals throughout the year to accomplish.
For instance, this year, I would love to self- publish a zine (a small self-published online magazine). I would also like to start working on a fictional book I’ve been planning on writing. As I mentioned in the above Time Management section, I plan to set a specific time(s) during the week to work on my goals. For you, this could be working on a research project or planning a community event. Whatever the goal may be, as long as it is held dear to you, go for it!
Creating connections with college administrators, school counselors, college students, and even other high school students who plan on studying the same majors as you is great to accomplish during your junior year. Gaining these connections allows you to gain information on the college process, gives you first-hand experience about college, and encourages you to study your specific interests. Surround yourself with positive and encourage other individuals as well. Having a positive social circle will not only you to uplift others but also allow others to uplift you, too.
The ultimate goal for your junior year is to enjoy yourself. You only have one year within your high school career to be a junior, so enjoy yourself (within reason, of course).
Feel free to add more goals for your junior year. Always keep in mind that your actions today will affect you in the near future. So, make sure to give this year your all – academically, personally and otherwise. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself, too.
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After debating for several days about what to teach, I finally decided on setting goals, academic success skills, and how long is a lifetime.
Day 1: SMART Goals
I went over SMART Goals. I used most of the same lesson plan (SMART Goals) I did with my 5th graders right before break, but tweaked it for 8th grade.
We reviewed SMART Goals:
Then, I had them set their own.
Afterwards, I had them do an activity. We played 4 Corners.
I set these signs in each corner of the room and had the students begin by gathering in the center of the room. I asked them to move to the corner of the room that would be most like them after each statement I read.
These are some of the statements I read to them:
After I was done reading all the statements, I had them take their seats and we discussed the activity. I asked them:
- What did we do in this activity?
- Did anything surprise you when we did this activity?
- What do you understand better about yourself having played 4 corners?
- What did you learn?
- How can you use what you learned moving forward?
The students agreed that they learned that these were things that could stand in the way of their goals. These are distractions, however, some could be helpful distractions but many were hurtful or wasteful. It was great to see them reflect back to their own lives.
To see the original SMART Goals Lesson click here.
Day 2: Success Skills
I played Classroom Feud, which is a game I made that is played like Family Feud.
I broke the class up into two teams and then they played to win!
This was just a fun review, but they really did have to stop and think about some of the answers. My son is in the 8th grade class, and his advice to me every morning was, "Mom, don't embarrass me!" This won his thumbs up approval.
To Get your own copy of this PowerPoint game, click here.
Day 3: How Long Is A Lifetime?
This lesson I got from my friend, Jan. It was perfect. I've uploaded the PowerPoint to our CITM files for easy access. You can also find the handouts there as well. These are a the first few slides.
I did add this video to the PowerPoint. I loved how it really made the kids think about what can be done in a one's life. I showed this after the Objective.
After we finished the PowerPoint, I gave each student a piece of paper and asked them to write their own timeline for their life.
Here are a few of their timelines:
When they were done, I asked them to share their timelines with someone else and then we processed the activity as a group. We then summed up the past 3 days and what they learned and how it will apply to them as they go to high school.Have a great idea for a classroom lesson? Let me know. Leave a comment below or share it with a group below!