Dear Sophomores,

(Almost) welcome to the best year of high school, at least in my opinion. Junior year will be hard and tiring. The transition is easy, and the teachers are amazing. You’ll begin your college search and choose classes for your final year of high school. Around May, the lasts will begin. Your last AP history test. Your last day of having a grade to look up to. So, savor the moments, but keep your future in mind. Here are some helpful tips for making the best of your Junior Year.

1. Your grades matter! Second semester junior year will be one of the most important semesters of your life. These grades will be sent to colleges and many times will be one of the many impressions you give a school. Keeping up with homework and staying in touch with your teachers is very important. Additionally, your effort in school will impact what your teachers think of you. This also is very important when it comes to recommendation letters.
2. Leave a lasting impression with teachers: Recommendation letters will round out your college portfolio. It is really important to begin to build personal relationships with teachers because these letters make you as a college candidate come alive in front of an admissions board. Additionally, we are so lucky to have such amazing teachers at HB who really want to build relationships with us and knowing administrators on such a personal level is unusual. It is definitely an opportunity to take advantage of.
3. Numbers aren’t everything: Yes, test scores are important, but they shouldn’t be your end all be all. Comparing test scores with friends is absolutely the worst idea ever. Please refrain from this destructive practice. It is in no way shape or form productive. Instead brush up on standardize test skills with practice books and tutor sessions. Additionally, the college office is always offering free x and lunch sessions to help students. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good score. And remember a good score is relative. This is all about you doing your best which probably isn’t the same as your best friend’s best.
4. Visit Colleges: Junior year is a great time to start exploring colleges. Try to take advantage of spring break and long weekends. With every visit you will be able to learn a little more about what you love in a school and what you can live without.
5. Find things you love: The only way to find what you love is to try new things. Putting myself out there for an internship brought me one of the best experiences of my life: working on the Hillary Clinton Campaign. I never would have discovered my love for politics or been exposed to the vast needs of the inner city without my time on the campaign. Junior year is a great time to add in that extra class just for fun or join a club just in case bird watching is your undiscovered passion. After high school, there will be limited time to have the opportunities HB offers in such a safe environment. Take advantage of them now!
6. Go to speakers: HB brings in a plethora of amazing speakers in. I fully regret not putting myself out there and attending as a freshman and sophomore. Even if you haven’t gone in the past, getting real world perspectives on global issues and possible careers is a valuable experience. And many teachers have started providing Stone Oven as the lunch. Who would pass that up?
7. Do what you want: Although this seems broad, it’s true. If your parents are pushing you to take 6 Aps, play 3 varsity sports and make honor roll, but what you really want to do is take photo, take photo. Your parents want what is best for you, but sometimes their vision isn’t exactly what you have in mind. Doing things that aren’t going to make you happy isn’t going to improve your high school experience or GPA. One of the reasons I have loved junior year is that I am genuinely interested in my classes and love my teachers. It is much more important to do what you love, rather than do what you think colleges want to see or your parents want you to do.
8. Expand your Friendship circle: As I hope you are finally settled in the upper school, I recommend expanding outside of your comfort zone and friend group, and make friends with girls in different grades and groups. I promise it will only add to your high school experience.
9. Explore and Appreciate Cleveland: Cleveland is an amazing city. Take your friends out for brunch in Ohio City, or spend the night at concert at the House of Blues or Grog Shop. It is rare to have access to a such a cheap city. Make the most of your time so close to downtown!
10. Don’t let the beginnings of the college process dominate your life: Although the experience is exciting and it’s to look into your future, don’t forget to live in the present. Junior year is a time to explore your interests and discover yourself.

Good luck. Enjoy it.

Happy summer,
Maggie Amjad and Ellie Roberto