Top 5 Important Tips To Survive Junior Year In College

There are so many things I wish other people would have told me about my junior year of college, starting with the fact that the pressure shoots up exponentially from freshman and sophomore years. An abundance of advice for college freshman and seniors exist, but what about the middle? Especially for junior year?  If I could go back in time and give my sophomore- heck freshman self any advice about surviving junior year. it would be the following:


1. Get Your Gameplan (Or Several) In Line

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Remember the pressure that was put on you during your junior year of high school to get your $#!% together if you haven’t already? Yeah, not much changes in college. I like to refer to the junior year as ‘senior year lite’ or ‘senior year jr.” because this is the year when life gets real. In truth, your third year of undergrad might be where you do a lot of heavy lifting. This is the year where most undergrad students delve into their major. This is also the year where many students should formally declare a major if they have not at this point or have been considering changing it. Junior year is not the year you want to be caught slipping. Big decisions can be scary, but that is why you always have multiple plans. Figure out your interests and what all you must do before you make an informed decision about your academics as well as your post-undergrad life. Some ways to set up your game plans are getting involved around campus, writing out your goals or creating a vision board, so you are not going into anything completely blind. Junior year and the overall transition into adulthood can be daunting, however, having more than one game plan about big choices definitely will buy you some time for you to fake it til you make it.


2. Your Network Is More Than Internet Connection

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You hear about this all the time: networking. Well, I’m going to add another tally to that. An important part of junior year survival, or in general, is networking. In college, there is no better time to network than junior year. As previously stated, junior year is the time to get your game plan(s) in order and put it in motion. However, some plans cannot be (successfully) executed as a one man or one woman show- that is what makes networking so important.

Utilize your professors as part of your network, especially if they teach classes important to your major. Create a relationship with these professors as they will be assessing your skill and capabilities. Go to their office hours or strike up conversations after class. Remember, they are professionals in said subject; therefore they have a network of their own. That is your foot in the door to whatever it is you wish to enter. A key to networking vertically is consistency. Consistently give your professor reasons to speak highly of you and be consistent in maintaining this relationship.

On the other hand, horizontal networking is equally as important as vertical networking. Horizontal networking is networking with your peers on a similar level to yourself. That being said, network with people in your major, in different organizations and even those who work on campus. These relationships are valuable as you will be able to benefit off of one another by learning from each other. Maybe you are good in a certain class, but you have a venture that you want to get off the ground and say there is a classmate who could use some help in said class but has knowledge and experience to help get you started on your venture.

Shoot, network with the Starbucks and cafeteria staff, might get yourself a free meal or coffee while you’re at it.

Do not sleep on your peers when networking during your junior year; you will need as many alliances as possible in this competitive world.


3. Experience Is Experience

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Get as much experience as possible. Gather experience via internships, part-time jobs, campus organizations or even from life.

This tip especially applies to those who are still in limbo as to what path they wish to pursue. When the opportunity presents itself take it! Do this within reason, but junior year is a good time to build your resume as well as to learn about yourself. You may not get the dream internship that you want; however, you may be presented with an internship with the same job description. Take it. Experience is experience, and it is only temporary. Look at the opportunities you seek and are presented with as learning experiences.

As for life experiences, the junior year can be incredibly stressful. It can feel as though everything is happening to you all at once and that the world is a second from caving in. Breathe. Just as your wins, view the L’s you take during junior year as learning experiences to lighten the load you may already feel on your chest. Take your experiences seriously, but not too seriously.


4. You’re Not A Superhero, And It’s Okay

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So you haven’t gotten that breakthrough internship yet? Your GPA isn’t where you’d like it to be? You had to withdraw from a class… or a few? Life just isn’t going according to plan? That is okay. You’re not a superhero.

In college you find yourself comparing your journey and position to that of your peers. It is a new level of pressure junior year, and it is during this year you find yourself taking stock of your life. You’re trying to get it all together and prepare for the future. At some points you may even feel as though your accomplishments aren’t enough in comparison to your classmates and that you are running out of time. Slow down.

A huge part of surviving the junior year of college is keeping your mental state in check. Most likely you will try to take on a lot in your junior year- sometimes more than what you are capable of handling. Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot handle, do not try to push your limits for the sake of proving that you can do it. That’s the quickest path to burnout. You are a lot of amazing things, but a superhero is not one of them, and that is a-okay.

Survive junior year with your own set pace. Everyone is different, and everyone has a different journey, your time to cross the finish line will come- no need to compare yourself.


5. Find Your ‘Thing’

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Just as it is imperative to figure out your major and intended career path during your junior year, finding stress relievers and constructive distractions will help you survive your junior year of college.

If you have not already found a stress reliever junior year is the perfect time. Find activities to reduce your stress levels and clear your mind. You have a lot on your plate and not releasing any of that built up tension is only going to make surviving junior year harder. It may feel as though you don’t have any time to yourself now that you have begun to dive deep into your major, but you must make time for yourself and your sanity.

As for “constructive distractions” they work like stress relievers in the sense that they give you a break from school, however, these “distractions” are for your personal growth. It is easy to let school consume your entire identity junior year- do not let this happen. Take up activities such as community service, learn a new skill, start a new hobby or do something you have always wanted to do but never had the chance. Cultivate your own identity outside of simply being a stressed-out junior at your institution.

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