The Student News Site of The American School in Japan


The Student News Site of The American School in Japan


The Student News Site of The American School in Japan


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A Guide to Surviving Second Semester of Junior Year

Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“You should expect never to leave your house.” 

“I would not want to relive that.” 

“It was a rough time.” 

These are just a few phrases current seniors used to describe the battle that is the second semester of junior year. 

In our already fiercely competitive school environment, packed with students driven by academic validation, the dedication of the ASIJ high school student body is no secret. However, junior year is known to be especially tough, typically marked by a heavy AP course load and the struggle to maintain an impressive GPA. 

As the pressure of college looms, the second semester of 11th grade is particularly frightening, with approaching AP exams, SATs, and the dreaded end-of-year report card. 

One junior, Hanna Munsiff, expressed, “I don’t understand how I am casually expected to spend over an hour on homework per class when I have three other classes that day, and then the next day, I have another four classes, on top of late after school practice for my sport. And it’s not even AP season yet.”

So, how should we, as juniors, manage everything we have going on? We have all heard the clichés from our teachers, counselors, and parents about the importance of time management, a good sleep schedule, and simple strategies to make school a bit easier. But sometimes, this just isn’t the reality. 

We’re high schoolers. We don’t have healthy sleep schedules, we procrastinate like our lives depend on it, and we don’t always want to listen to our parents. So, I interviewed current juniors, seniors, and faculty at ASIJ to learn more about their tips and tricks for getting through junior year unscathed. 

To begin, current juniors emphasized adopting a positive mindset and changing how we approach second semester to alleviate pressure.

Juniors Lily Stone-Bourgeois and Hinode Saffen, both students involved in challenging courses and multiple extracurriculars, shared how they plan to approach the rest of the year. Hino explained that when feeling overwhelmed with seemingly never-ending work, he reminds himself, “It’s only one year of my life.” 

Lily also said it’s important to enjoy your teenage years, a valuable period of your life, without stressing about getting an “A” — something that she tries to remind herself constantly. 

But what do seniors have to say on the topic as they enter their final semester of high school, counting down the days until graduation? 

Senior Hiroya Sobajima emphasized the importance of “prioritizing a good lifestyle.” He explained that you should never sacrifice having three healthy meals a day or a good night’s sleep, for example, to study more. Hiroya described how he believes a healthy lifestyle is the most crucial aspect of getting through any difficult time, a lesson he learned from his junior year and something he is trying to implement as a senior. 

Another 12th grader, Maya Moses, added her perspective, highlighting the value of completing work as soon as it is assigned. She described how this strategy would lift a huge burden and save students from hours of cramming the night before an assessment. Creating a realistic schedule and breaking down tasks into manageable chunks can help in staying on top of assignments without feeling overwhelmed.

Mr. Confer, an English teacher at ASIJ, also had some words of advice for juniors worrying about their second semester: “Don’t think you have to do it alone, and don’t think you have to suck it up all the time.”

Mr. Confer stressed the significance of recognizing that when you feel alone, most of your classmates likely feel the same way. So reach out if you’re feeling overwhelmed because chances are, they’ll probably relate. 

However, it’s important to note that despite the shared struggles, everyone’s high school journey is unique. While many current juniors resonate with the sentiments of overwhelming pressure and demanding schedules, there are also individuals who navigate junior year with relative ease. 

Some 11th graders, like Nina Defibaugh, have described how they haven’t found the workload of junior year to be “that different from sophomore year.” This is a testament to the diverse experiences within our student body. 

Overall, the second semester of junior year will not be a breeze. But if there’s one thing to remember, it’s to avoid getting consumed in a competitive school environment. Junior year, and high school in general, is just a small part of our lives. However, it’s a part that we’ll want to look back on with fond memories, not just as time spent locked in our bedrooms studying.

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About the Contributor
Emma Savarese
Emma Savarese, Writer
Hi! My name is Emma. I'm currently a junior and have been at ASIJ since 2016. Prior to Japan, I lived in Spain, Virginia, and South Korea. I love exploring new topics, and am excited to write about them in Hanabi!

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