To the juniors...
Junior year is great. This is the year when you'll be able to start deciding which college you want to attend and what you want to do with your life without all of the pressure of being a senior. This was one of my favorite years in high school. (Okay, okay, I think I say that about every year, but oh well.) You're finally an upper classman, finally able to carry more than two people around in your car, finally turning seventeen (which is the best age ever). Here are a few pieces of advice I wish I could have known when I was starting my junior year of high school.
Start looking for scholarships now. I started looking for scholarships too late and missed a lot of deadlines. I didn't realize that you apply for a lot of scholarships when you're a junior. Scholarships can be so important to help you pay for college. Try to purchase a scholarship book online or at a local bookstore. It'll be kind of expensive for a book, but it'll list every scholarship available for undergraduates... and there are scholarships for everything! I know someone who was able to pay for the first two years of college just on little scholarships from a scholarship book. You'll have to write a few essays and fill out some forms, but it'll be worth it if you can get money for college.
Seriously study for the SAT and ACT. I didn't study for either of those tests... at all. I'm a good test taker, so I did a pretty good job. However, I soon learned that I was one point away from achieving automatic admission (and a scholarship) into the school I wanted to attend, which would have saved me a lot of worry. Start studying ahead of time and even take the test once or twice while you're a junior so you can get the hang of it. Believe me, it's boring... but the scores can earn you a lot of scholarships!
This is your most important year academically. I was told multiple times that your grades matter the most junior year. This year's academics are what will be examined the most, so be sure to work hard, study, stay organized, and make good grades. Don't slack off, even when you're feeling tempted. Once you start to apply for colleges and get rejection after rejection, you'll regret not studying.
Look at colleges now while you have time to decide. Make a list of universities you are considering. If you have no idea, use a website like College Board to help you decide. List pros and cons of each one, like cost, distance, size, etc. Once you have some ideas, start visiting. I visited several different schools during my junior and senior year. You will surprisingly forget a LOT about them after you leave, so be sure to take pictures and notes about pros and cons about the campus. Try visiting a nearby school, a small school, a private school, and a state school to see which seems the most like you. I was told that if you can't envision yourself at a school now, you won't fit in there later. When you're a senior, you'll make the final decision, but it will be less stressful if you start deciding early.
Relax while you can. Right now, you have time to think about which university you'd like to attend and which scholarships you can apply for and what major you'd like to choose. Use this time to prepare for college without feeling pressured or rushed. It's so much easier when you have two years to plan instead of only a few months... use this time to get ready. Enjoy being relaxed and unhurried in your decision-making while you can!
Try to get involved in leadership opportunities. You're an upperclassman, so you finally have quite a bit of influence over the younger kids in your high school, even more than you realize. Use this year to get more involved in volunteering opportunities and in Bible studies. This will teach you a lot about your relationship with the Lord and His plan for your life. It will also put you in a perfect position to remain a leader when you become a senior. Use this time as an upperclassman to shine for Christ.
Junior year has the potential to be a great year in your life. Don't wish the time away. Even when schoolwork, scholarships, and SAT tests seem a little overwhelming, enjoy the time you have as a high school student. You are a leader, even more so this year since you are now an upperclassman. Be a city on a hill for the Lord. Let Him shine through you in every aspect of your life.
Love you, juniors!
(If you have a specific question or prayer request, feel free to ask in the comments below or at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org)