As soon as you start high school, and even before, the folklore of Junior year’s pressures are passed on from student to student, and from parent to parent. The vital question is: How does one survive the journey? With standardized testing, hours of homework, extracurricular activities and part time jobs, the odds of making it through the year feels, at times, nearly impossible. Yet, Junior Year isn’t so horrible if you follow these 3 crucial suggestions. I’d even go as far to say that you will sail through with flying colors.

Suggestion 1: Slow Down. During my Junior year, my first mistake was following the voice in my head telling me, “It only gets worse, just get your work done quickly!” In hindsight, I would instead tell myself: quality over quantity. I often rushed through my work, not giving important assignments the proper time they needed to shine. I know it seems like you have no time to, but prioritize and at the end of Junior year, you’ll have results that you can be proud of. Take time to absorb the information you are learning, put time into your work and the sacrifices you make will pay off. This one-year, you need to give it your all. Your full attention is essential; a fraction is not enough.

Suggestion 2: Make a To-Do List. You need to manage your time in order to get everything done. For small assignments, I always found it helpful to do them while at school. Whether during a free period or at lunch, get small things out of the way so that you can focus on more important ones later. This is a fundamental principle of time management. Figure out how much time you need for each task, then make a to-do list, and follow it. Right now, you are reading the product of today’s to-do list. Currently, it’s 1:30 pm and on my list, I allotted time to work on this article from 12:45 pm to 2:30 pm. I also schedule in breaks, which allows me to revisit other work that I might not have finished. In your own lists, I would suggest adding in extra curricular work, emails to be sent, important assignments, studying, practicing for SATs or ACTs, and most notably – breaks!

Suggestion 3: Stop and recharge. To get results, you need to have a clear mind. It’s hard when you have work piling up, your mind is spinning and you’re completely overwhelmed. Whether it’s 20 minutes or an hour, take a break and do something that relaxes or energizes you. For me, it has always been writing. Listen to music, go for a run, walk your dog—whatever works for you! Just do something that distracts you from your reality, so that in those moments, you are out of your head for a moment and doing something you enjoy.

I hope these three suggestions will help you navigate Junior Year. It’s an extremely demanding year, but the reward at the end is worth it. You are the key to your future: how you utilize it, is up to you.