So here's what made junior year work for me:
I came in with the mentality that I could do better.I learned a lot from junior year, but it wasn't limited to calculus and economics and how much caffeine I could consume for my body weight. I learned to give myself a chance.
On my first AP U.S. History in-class essay, I received a score of 84%. I mean, rumor had it that my teacher was an especially hard grader, but I refused to settle. I immediately arranged a meeting to discuss future improvement with him. At the end of the year, I had a solid A in the class.
I didn't wait.
Second semester junior year, everyone was panicking about getting into prestigious summer research programs and internships. I secured my internship with Seventeen in December. I applied in early November. I was 16 years old when I sent out my resume and I knew I couldn't stand a chance if I applied later in the year. Really, there is no harm in emailing someone and telling them how eager you are to learn. I didn't wait for my opportunities to appear on Ed2010.com or in the form of a prepackaged summer program -- I knew I wanted to intern for a top magazine in New York City and I knew I had to be unconventional to do it.
I didn't quite know I was but I knew who I wasn't.
I threw out all of my Abercrombie from middle school. I finally admitted to listening to country music. I quit the debate team and I joined journalism. I have yet to reclaim my speech and debate trophies, but I would give them up in a heartbeat for the journalism opportunities I've had.
I let myself fall in love with the people around me.
I got into a lot of fights with my father because of college visits and SAT test preparation. I saw my friends in the library more than I ever did before. And yet, that was the year I realized that none of us could pull through without each other, whether it was through vocabulary cramming sessions or lying on the football field in the afternoon, soaking up the sun.