11th Grade: 4 Mistakes to Avoid


As an Orange County private academic tutor, many students ask me how they can make their senior year easier or, at least, simpler. The key to a low stress senior year is to avoid a few mistakes in the 11th grade. Keeping on track or keeping ahead of the game now can make next year much easier. During the 12th grade, students will spend countless hours on the college admittance process, along with one last AP class and the college essay. These activities are more than enough to keep students busy so it’s a good idea to make sure nearly everything else is completed by then.

Mistake #1 – Forget to take the SAT or ACT

Do not make this mistake if you wish to have any free time during your senior year. Many students choose to take the SAT one last time in order to see if they can gain a few, last minute, points. It’s absolutely okay to take the SAT one last time but make sure that you have the score you need to get into at least three of your target schools by the end of your junior year (READ: “A Timeline Study Guide For the SAT“).

Mistake #2 – Don’t visit any university campuses

It’s important to find the time to visit the universities that you are applying to. If possible, check out each and every one that you are considering. For many people this simply isn’t possible but it’s important to at least check out the ones in your area. Assuming you live in Orange County, drive over to UCI and take a look. This will give you an idea of what a research-oriented campus looks like. Drive on up to UCLA and down to UCSD as well. These universities are close enough that the visit can be done in a single day. Visit Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach as well. To see what a small liberal arts college looks like, check out the Claremont Colleges or Chapman University (READ: “8 Reasons Applicants Fail to Get Into The College of Their Choice“).

It’s not a good idea to show up to campus the first day of the fall term and feel overwhelmed by the sheer size of the campus. If you can’t make it to your out-of-state schools, at least get a feel for the local choices.

Mistake #3 – Let grades slip

Junior year can be frustrating to say the least. AP classes and SAT/ACT test prep are in full swing. Many students think that they can let one or two classes slip while they focus on their college prep. Don’t do this. An A can quickly turn into a B and then a C in just a few short weeks. If you feel that your classes are taking time away from other academic activities, hire a maintenance tutor to help you out one or two hours a week so that things don’t get out of control.

Mistake #4- Don’t take any time for yourself

Even though junior year in high school can be a lot of responsibility, it’s important to take a few moments to sit back and relax and attend to your health and well being. Take some time each day to enjoy the moment. Get some fresh air, watch a favorite TV show, take a yoga class once a week or do whatever works for you. Spending more time on the phone or on social media doesn’t count as a break; these activities are distractions and they don’t allow the brain to rest (READ: “Coping With Stress as a Teen“).

Remember to eat on a regular schedule because studying gets much harder on an empty stomach. The most important thing, and the one most students don’t do, is to get a full eight hours of sleep each night. This is the time when your body recovers from everything it has done during the day.

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