JC’s declassified school survival guide

Each year of high school provides unique challenges and struggles. However, the remarkable opportunities to learn and grow are limitless. Use this survival guide as a tool to help you through the difficulties and find enjoyment in each year with advice from fellow Patriots that have been through it themselves.


Freshman year is a challenging year. It’s full of new beginnings and fresh starts as students have to leave their familiar middle school and transition to a brand new school with many new people. As the youngest on campus, freshman experience so much is changing at one time, and this can make the year especially hard to navigate.

Sophomore Isabelle Schucker believes that the change in the amount of work in comparison to middle school was the biggest struggle during her freshman year. “I was used to homework and stuff, but the amount of projects [increased]. They were more difficult,” Schucker said.

While freshman year may have its challenges, there are also many positive outcomes including making new friends, setting a foundation for future years of high school, and an increasing amount of freedom. “I liked meeting new people that I didn’t grow up with since I was three [and] I liked the freedom of it,” Schucker said. Since freshmen have added freedom, however, Schucker advises  to “do all of your homework and turn everything in on time.”


Sophomore year is the biggest transitional year. This is the year that can provide the most growth in a person. Students already know their classmates, the campus, and what is expected of them from their teachers. This leaves more time for students to focus on themselves and the kind of person they want to be remembered as.

Junior Megan Cleary found sophomore year helpful. “Freshman year, I was coming in and trying to figure myself out, and junior year, I’m focused on college. But sophomore year is just in the middle,” she said. Despite learning more about oneself, sophomore year provides a challenge as students aren’t quite upperclassmen, but are also no longer the youngest on campus. This in-between stage can be difficult because students may lose their focus.

Without being brand new to the school or an upperclassman looking on to college, students may feel as though they have no real motivation. Cleary found “concentrating in class” to be a challenge during this transitional year and advises current sophomores to, “definitely do [well] in your classes so you can get into higher classes your junior year,” Cleary said.


Junior year is infamously known for being the hardest year of high school. It is the year that is most important to colleges while they are looking to accept students their senior year. Since students want to have a strong résumé for colleges, they often spend time trying to succeed on SATs and may overload their schedule with hard classes feeling as though they need to look the best they can for colleges. This leads to a lot of pressure on students and overall, a very stressful year.

Senior Lauren Pomroy felt a lot of stress during her junior year, however she found it helpful to not procrastinate. While the year may consist of stress and headaches, it can also lead to major accomplishments. For example, Pomroy noted, “I did better on the SATs than I thought I would.”

While students push themselves to work hard, they should also take time to relax and be proud of what they accomplished. “Don’t be too focused on your studies. Have a relaxing day every once in while,” Pomroy said. She also suggests that if juniors want to improve at anything they should keep practicing, “keep doing the same repetitive actions so that you get better [with it].”


Senior year can lead to tears and happiness as students look back on their high school career. For seniors, everything will be changing very soon, and since they will be leaving the school shortly, they may get “senioritis” and lose motivation after the stressful college application process.

During senior year, students begin to look toward the future, apply for and choose a college, and decide what they want to do with their lives. This can be a scary thought and may challenge seniors. Parker Day, class of ’16, felt as if she did not prepare herself for the reality of what life away from high school would be like. “I even regretted picking a college far away,” Day said.

Although senior year may be full of uneasiness as students look to the future, moments from senior year and being the oldest on campus make for an enjoyable year. “Senior retreat was one of my favorite moments of the year. It was a chance to hear from people in our class who didn’t usually speak up, [and] there were a lot of bonding moments,” Day said.

Taylor Bynion is a Copy Editor and Paige Alban is an In-focus Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.