Op-Ed: A letter to juniors


Photo credit: Kristin Taylor

On Friday, April 30, seniors gathered on the stairs of the veranda to celebrate their accomplishments and acceptances to college. This day, for me, was filled with so much joy and excitement for each one of my classmates because it really showed off all the hard work that we put into our years at Archer.

By Nyah Fernandez, Multimedia Editor

College. That’s all I could think about. What college am I going to? Do I need to start writing my personal statement? What if I am already behind? What if my application isn’t good enough?

After my senior class met with our college guidance counselors to discuss what the next few months of high school would entail, questions about college and what it meant to leave home began to surface. I recall former seniors advising me to begin college preparations as soon as possible during the summer of my junior year. A part of me wanted to listen, but the other part of me didn’t want to hear it because of the realization that the decision of where to go to college was approaching.

I had to keep reminding myself that I am still a growing teenager, and my growth is significant to how I write about myself in college applications. I am a human being that is constantly changing throughout high school.

Thinking back on the college process, the most important summer of my high school career was the summer heading into senior year. The summer of 2021 was when I could settle down, do more in-depth research on schools and begin all of the college requirements I needed to do.

Despite all of my responsibilities that summer, such as working, volunteering and participating in a five-week program, I wish I could have told myself to take a minute and think about the next steps in my future.

Seniors have come up to me in the past and told me that senior year was difficult. I used to brush it off my shoulder since I knew I still had a long way to go. Well, the time has flown by, and I am now a senior in high school, graduating in a week. Many people find it difficult to cope with the ongoing stress of determining where to apply and where they want to go.

So juniors, there is a lot to balance in your life: school, college applications, extracurricular activities, sports, volunteering and employment. When it comes to your mental wellness, it is okay to take that time away from your computer and take a minute for yourself. When I get stressed, I will journal, eat a snack, take a break for 10-minutes and regroup on what I was doing so I don’t get overwhelmed by the moment.

According to a John Hopkins University article, even though many students have many responsibilities in their school and personal lives, they must still prioritize their mental health: “School-life balance is important for optimal academic functioning. Students often prioritize academics at the expense of personal factors, including relationships and exercise. This can lead to a decline in academic performance, as general health and well-being are critical to optimal academic functioning.”

Many people see countless students prioritize homework over getting those eight hours of sleep. There have been numerous times when my friends and I have stayed up to finish an essay in order to make it the best it can be. Students feel that it is necessary to stay up late and finish multiple assignments because they think it will make them better, but that is not always the case. Students’ well-being must be a priority, such as obtaining a good night’s sleep and ensuring that you are emotionally stable to face another day so that you can excel academically while also caring for yourself.

I found that having friends and family to talk to about how difficult it is to be a senior is quite beneficial. A lesson I wish I took into account more from previous seniors was to relax, breathe, start your personal statement when you feel ready and simply have fun. Do not take time for granted.

My fellow juniors and future generations of seniors, you got this. I know that phrase can only do so much, but from the bottom of my heart, I know that you can succeed and become successful in your senior year and future endeavors. It is going to be stressful and challenging, but you have a support system beside you to comfort you through these tough times. I saw this post on Instagram, and it really stood out to me so I want to share it with whoever is reading this. I hope it brings you comfort in your college process and the following school year.

“Congrats to the kids receiving college acceptances to their dream schools. But also shoutout to all those students who are bravely selecting trade schools, choosing community colleges, joining the military, taking a gap year to focus on their mental health or [to] earn money, or still have no idea what they are doing next,” America’s best pics & videos said.

“There is no path to doing life. Let’s celebrate it all!”