How to Manage the Hardest Year of High School

By Rachel Epperly

I started to think back on my four years here at James River, and to me, my senior year was for sure the hardest year I’ve had to go through. I began to wonder how other students felt and if they had any advice to incoming students on how to handle the challenges and stress they faced in that year, so I asked five seniors these three questions: what was your hardest year of high school, what did you do to overcome the challenges you faced during this year, and what advice do you have for other students that are preparing to go into this year to get through the difficulties they will face?

Interviewees: Summer Williamson, Cameron Hildebrand, Rachel Moore, Alyson McCullough, Erin Walker, and Tessa Jones

Summer Williamson- Freshman Year

1: “To me my freshman year of high school was the hardest. It was a big adjustment for me, and there was a lot going on. The primary reason was probably that I didn’t have the best friends at the time. If I had to sum it up it was a lot of emotional turmoil.”

2: “Changing classes and being around new people helped a lot. Being away from school was helpful to get a break too.”

3: “Surround yourself with good friends that you are comfortable with and know well, and if they are starting to stress you out or cause your year to go downhill then take a step away from them. It will make or break your high school career.”

Cameron Hildebrand- Junior Year

1: “My hardest year of high school was my junior year. I think it was the most difficult because of my class schedule that included both AP History and English.”

2: “I mostly just had to start studying a lot more, I had to start keeping track of my time, and I had to set my priorities straight. I did this by having designated “study time” almost every night for at least an hour. I also kept a calendar on both my phone and a paper copy that I constantly updated. By setting my priorities straight it sort of ruined my social life at first, but once I got used to my schedule and was able to get everything done in a timely manner, everything was back to normal.”

3: “Base your year around organization. I would recommend that students keep a calendar and that they keep a list of tasks that need to be completed and when. This way they are able to check them off and make sure they are completed on time.”

Rachel Moore- Junior Year
1: “My junior year was probably my hardest year because that’s when my life started to get crazy I got dumped, I started having harder classes, and everything blew up all at once.”

2: “I learned coping mechanisms and started studying more. I planned out my time and as corny as it sounds, I started a journal.

3: “Know that the hard times are not the end of the world. They might feel like it is at the time, but you will eventually learn how to get out of it and deal with the struggles.”

Alyson McCullough- Senior Year

1: “My senior year was the hardest year I’ve gone through because the classes got harder, and more pressure is put on you because your future is in your hands and if you don’t make the right decisions then you’re screwed.”

2: “I had to get really good at time management.”

3: “No matter what you do, do not procrastinate.”

Erin Walker- Senior Year

1: “My hardest year in high school was my senior year because my classes were harder. I also had to worry about scholarships and college applications to finish while managing my time with track, so I had a lot to do.”

2: “Honestly I haven’t really done anything, I just get it done when I can. I’ve hung out a lot more with my friends this year and that’s helped me destress, even though in the back of my mind I know I have a lot of work to do.”

3: “Get your stuff done early and don’t wait and push it off. Don’t be like me; if you have scholarships go ahead and do them early. Fill out college applications early, and when you send your transcripts, follow up to make sure they get sent so you’re not stressed out about them getting there on time.”

Tessa Jones- Senior Year

1: “My hardest year was my senior year because the quality and quantity of work has increased, so we have to spend more time on assignments while also having more assignments to do. It’s also hard trying to hang out with your friends and do sports while managing that work.”

2: “I prioritize what is due when and depending on due dates, I work my way through the assignments by when they are due.”

3: “Breath! It’s overwhelming and stressful with all the applications and scholarships to fill out. It never seems to end, but budget your time and use your parents as a resource to help you.”

Some of these people had different views on what their hardest year was based on classes, time management, and friends. All in all, if you learn how to manage your time, don’t procrastinate, and surround yourself with people that are helping and not hurting your education, high school should be a breeze.