The Junior Jitters

For the Class of 2021, the fateful year is now underway


photo by Julia Poppa

Juniors file into the auditorium for the administrative assembly at the beginning of the year.

Julia Poppa, Staff Writer

Junior year — notorious for SATs, college planning, homework overload, and pressure.

Before the school year commenced on August 27, juniors had a fairly reasonable idea of what they were about to walk into. But foresight doesn’t mean they still won’t suffer from stress and anxiety regarding the upcoming school year.  Call it by any name, but the back-to-school jitters are very real for a lot of students, and for many juniors the nerves are stronger now than ever before.

“It’s a lot more than I was expecting right off the bat,” Lena Voss said.

The course work was probably the biggest concern among the rising 11th grade class before school was back in session.

But exactly how much time are students already spending on homework? Each teacher on average expects their homework to take around 30 minutes, and with each student taking roughly four core classes as well as at least two electives, the total clocks in at two to three hours each night, usually leaning more towards the longer end.

Everyone seems to be telling me how worried I should be rather than helping me prepare for future endeavors.”

— Faith Nguyen, junior

Keep in mind this is only the average time spent, and homework can take much longer than that, with projects and essays thrown in the mix. Many students can handle juggling homework and after school activities, regardless of whether or not they want to, but what are the effects?

Social jetlag can be intense for students, as it takes a huge toll on mental health. With the first week of school now behind us, 11th graders have a stronger sense of what this year will demand from them emotionally. With their feet finally wet, juniors are getting a pretty good idea of whether or not their anxieties are soon to diminish or grow worse.

“[It has] worsened, by the truckload,” Faith Nguyen said. “Not only is the environment bad, but educators magnify things to the point where I feel like everything should be stressing me out. In fact, everyone seems to be telling me how worried I should be rather than helping me prepare for future endeavors.”

All of which raises the question: what are teachers aware of, and what are they doing to help their students learn? Every teacher teaches, but their instructional styles may not get through to every student.

“If you look at the way we are taught and assessed on material, it doesn’t always place value on the knowledge that remains useful beyond graduation,” Réka Götz said. “We have other interests and need a break sometimes. I think it’s really important for teachers to encourage students to pursue their interests, even if it isn’t something in their curriculum.”

For much of the Class of 2021, the back-to-school jitters haven’t subsided since last Tuesday. The cumulative load of homework, anxiety, and lofty expectations is certainly no illusion, though some are learning to take it all in stride.

“So far, the workload has been what I’ve been expecting,” Matt Turzai said. “It’s been manageable and I hope I can keep up the rest of the year.”