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The panic that is junior year

NUDELMANAdjectives to describe a typical junior year in high school are those that are often associated with a horror movie. We are barely knocking on the door of October, and yet it already feels like we have had our fill of new and stomach-churning events that are setting the tone for the school year. The ascension to becoming an upperclassman comes with a great deal more than just a new moniker.

Rather, students who have recently entered their junior year are preparing for the following: taking the SAT and/or ACT examinations; much tougher classes, which include Advanced Placement courses; and the fact that the mystical place called “college” is less than two years away. The seemingly good-natured high school atmosphere of sporting events, dances and other school activities comes with a surprising challenge and struggle for students.

It seems that no matter where you go, when you proudly announce that you are a junior in high school, the immediate response is, “Ooooh, how’s that going?” followed by the inevitable question asking about your impending college choices. People just generally like to ask questions about the future, and as kids, we just have to live with answering these questions over and over and over again.

Next, we are regularly met with questions about the SAT and then about the rigors of our class load as if we did not have enough to worry about! Junior year is the time when kids start shouldering jobs and internships and begin getting involved in organizations to either make some money for themselves (which could be used for college) or have items to help enhance a college application.

No matter the level of a student’s involvement, it seems as if everything you do is to make yourself more appealing to colleges and universities across the country. So if dealing with tough classes, SAT and ACT preparation, jobs and trying to have a modest social life are not enough, we juniors have got to wonder what more is expected of us.

Listen, though: We all know we can handle whatever the world throws at us!

Living with an older sibling, I feel as if I went through the whole college process four years ago as I began to think how great it will be in the future. I put the emphasis on the word future because, while I walked alongside my brother on numerous college visits and as I left him at his new home, I did not really think about it being “my turn” until I started my junior year a few weeks ago. I now also realize that when I left my brother on his college campus, the sands in the hourglass for my departure had begun to sift through.

It is also strange to now realize as a junior that the “big scary seniors” are really just the kids we have been growing up with for the past 16 to 17 years. The seniors that make all the freshman tremble are the ones in the grade above us now, and in two semesters, we will be sitting in their place. The kids that are now figuring out what they want to do in life, what school they want to go to, are the ones that were in our third- and fourth-grade class back in elementary school.

Junior year is the stairway to heaven. It is the rigorous and demanding climb you have to make because the elevator is broken, and it is the challenge and heartbreak that leads to many sleepless nights. At the top of the stairway, though, when this part of the journey is all over and you have finally made it to the landing, the next magical four years of college will await.

I don’t know where I’m going to go yet, but what I do know is that I’m going to use my time here in Lake Oswego to the full advantage. I plan to relish every part of this community, because you don’t know how great we have it until you’re on the flight starting your next adventure.

Sol Nudelman is a guest columnist for The Lake Oswego Review. He is a junior at Lake Oswego High School and can be reached at education@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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