High School Juniors are Struggling Too


My junior is laser-focused on the college admission process. 

During a pandemic.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to our kids, especially when it comes to helping them with post-high school plans. My youngest just finished her junior year at Lakewood Ranch High School. Having gone through the college search, application, and transition to college twice before with my older children, this is not something I was feeling particularly stressed about.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to it, but when it comes to the youngest child in the family, there is less stress and strain. We did it before and we’ll do it again! Then the kink in the works that I never saw coming hit, the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. Or, as I like to call it, the “2020 Crap on a roll with ketchup & mustard on top.”

Everything that seemed certain is now uncertain.

For a kid who is a planner and is ready for college, like my girl, this has been a major disruption. I don’t know where she gets this, but my teen daughter is a kid who holds herself to higher standards than we as her parents ever would. Put on top of that, a world turned upside down and you’ve got a recipe for a majorly stressed out teen.

Your Most Important Year

Students are told over and over how important the junior year of high school is when it comes to getting into college. Hindsight tells us as parents that high school is a moment in time. It is a mental stretch for a current high schooler to see beyond the high school years with any certainty.

You don’t just go to college; you must be accepted.

You need them to want you. You need to stand out amongst other applicants. And as a student, you want it to be a college or university that you see as a good fit academically and socially. The whole college preparation and admission process is like running the gauntlet.

And now, the entire Junior year has been interrupted, leaving students unsure of their future, including my daughter. Her mind raced with questions:

“Will my SAT scores be good enough for that school I love?”

“How about my GPA?”

“Do I have enough community service and extra-curricular activities?”

“What about that list of schools I want to tour?”

How the pandemic would affect these things got real over the last 3 months.

To keep in touch and keep things interesting (and to have a reason to go out of the house!) we started writing letters. My daughter started writing letters to her grandparents and you can read the uncertainty:

The typical activities of junior year were halted.

As you might have guessed, those May SATs did not take place. Online school commenced after spring break and the school year dragged on. Including trying to learn chemistry online, taking AP tests online, and learning by email that she made National Honor Society.

In a day and age when people were losing their jobs via email, phone call, and Zoom this may seem less significant, but it throws a kid for a loop and certainly had a sting to it. Add to all that the cancellation of a summer basketball season and an active kid was suddenly not so active.

The rite of passage that is touring colleges was not the same.

Time marched on and the need to find ways to get things done without going out of the house got us taking advantage of online offerings like the Zoom college tours.

I must hand it to the students who conducted the virtual tours of their University’s we attended. They showed me that the online version of a college tour can be interactive, engaging, and informative. Those kids are going places! It can’t go unsaid that as they were taking us through the information, they were also sharing that their college graduation had been disrupted and that plans for their futures were being greatly affected.

We made the best of the new way of experiencing this rite of passage that is touring colleges but sitting online together at our kitchen table was not the same experience that going and walking a college campus with other prospective students would be.

“New Normal” Includes Resilient Kids

The world is opening up and things are getting back to a “new normal”. Kids are getting together again; beach trips are happening, and the school has ended for most. The challenges of the end of the 2020 school year are for the most part behind us. I was texting with a friend recently about the effect of the pandemic on our children and we agreed, our kids are going to come out of this with a resilience that will serve them well in life. And so will we as parents.