Navigating Junior Year

Exciting, challenging, meaningful. Junior year is the halfway point to graduation. It is a time to enjoy the familiarity of campus life while preparing for the future.

Now an upperclassman, your student may be more confident and purpose-driven in his or her studies and leadership role on campus. And yet, challenges exist. Among them are the pressures of post-graduation plans. Students living in off-campus housing or studying abroad may face adjustment issues as well.

Your support is important. Understanding the dynamics of junior year can help in the process.

Academics Become Increasingly Meaningful

  • With fewer core courses in their schedule, students gain in-depth study in their major through upper division classes. These challenging courses foster critical thinking skills that enable students to apply classroom theory to real-world situations. In addition, they develop the confidence to express their views, even if they conflict with textbooks, professors and peers.

  • Peer support within one's academic major further develops as students spend more time together in the classroom and through co-curricular activities.

  • Experiential activities like study abroad, internships, independent study and research offer increased opportunities for students to enrich their learning.

  • Faculty-student mentoring becomes increasingly important as juniors seek out-of-classroom learning opportunities and advice regarding post-graduation.

Graduate School and Career Plans Move to the Forefront

  • Active participation in Career Services programs and workshops is imperative as students look beyond graduation. Students can gain assistance with researching graduate programs and careers as well as in polishing their resumes, curricula vitae, portfolios and interview skills.

  • Students who diversify their experiences through multiple internships, study abroad and service-learning activities broaden their perspectives and capabilities, in addition to boosting their resumes and graduate school applications.

Co-curricular Leadership Builds Impressive Skills

  • Leadership progression in Greek, athletic, social and academic organizations demonstrates a willingness to assume greater responsibility and initiative. Junior year is the time students should assume their role as campus leader.

  • Mentoring relationships with younger peers builds confidence and replicates the workplace, where it is important to form professional associations with persons of all ages.

  • Networking opportunities through off-campus activities like professional conferences and Greek-affiliated programs, among others, builds a community of mentor and peer contacts that may be called upon during a job search.

Real-World Stressors Foster Uneasiness

  • Post-graduation concerns about finding a job or getting into graduate school begin to creep into the minds of juniors. Some students may even question the job marketability of their major.

  • If living off campus, students may experience financial constraints and worries with regard to rent, transportation, food and bills. They also may have acclimation issues in dealing with roommates, household chores and increased independence.

  • Junior year is a popular time for students to study abroad. Students engaging in this invaluable opportunity may experience unexpected culture shock and homesickness at first. Upon return, they may need time to readjust.