What Advice I’d Give to My Junior Self: College, Self-Development, and Relationship

What Advice Id Give to My Junior Self: College, Self-Development, and Relationship

Nhi (Nina) Tran, Mental Health Editor/Contributing Writer, Mayer AZ

High school is a peculiar time in our lives. In hindsight, 4 years doesn’t seem like such a long time. However, with all the changes that take place within us, it sure feels like forever.

I’m currently a senior in high school who is finished with my college business, and I am excited to be pressure-free for the first time since freshman year.

Looking back at my junior year, there’re many things I’m proud of, but also many that I wish I had done differently. Those prideful achievements and stinging regrets revolve around three main things: college preparation, self-development, and relationships.

In this article, I’ll share advice that I’d give to my junior self, and from that, I also hope to help current and future high school juniors to navigate their way through the “most important year of high school” without repeating my mistakes, hence maximizing their chance of thriving and having a wonderful year.

1. Make concrete goals for your college search, and do thorough research

The college research process can be quite tedious and tiresome, so to minimize the amount of work you have to do, remember to be clear of what you’re looking for. There are many wonderful, free online resources that can teach you what to look out for in a college. Be sure of what you want and don’t want, and stick to those when searching.

For example, I intended to do creative writing, hated the cold, and disliked rural and too urban, populated areas. Therefore, whenever I came across a school that had my intended program, not in cold states like Maine or Wisconsin, and was in a suburban or not heavily populated urban area, I added it to my list.

After having a list, you should do thorough research on those schools to see how fitting those schools are for you. Is the school diverse? Does it have good food? Is it in a place with a high crime rate? Anything that could make you go “Ew, no” or “Oh my, yes!” should be looked through before you decide to apply.

Keep an open mind for changes in preferences you might encounter throughout the college process, as this happens a lot. Be serious about this, but don’t push yourself too hard; you have time!

2. Your self-worth is defined by your personality and qualities only

One of the mistakes that I’ve seen many teenagers, including myself, have made is defining our self-worth on the wrong matters. Whether it’s dating, fancy sneakers, popularity, or even academic performance, these things don’t define you or your peers as a person.

Getting higher grades doesn’t make you a better human than anyone else. Having a boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t make you better or more desirable. Not owning the latest Jordan sneakers or flexing the latest fashion trend is no reason to keep your head low.

You are defined by your character, how you see the world, and how you treat other people. Character, in my opinion, is the only way to measure a person’s self-worth.

Therefore, if you know you are a good person at heart, to both yourself and other people, there’s no reason for you to feel inferior or inadequate compared to anyone.

Remember, a good heart goes a long way!

3. Cherish the relationships with people…while they last

When your junior year starts, you enter the second half of your high school year. This could mean great news for people who can’t wait to graduate, but also bad news for those who wish to cling to the relationships they’ve made.

One of the most acute regrets I’ve had was not spending enough time with people whom I knew wouldn’t stick around forever. They would graduate before me, change schools, or leave after we graduate together. All in all, if there are people that matter to you in high school, cherish them and spend as much time with them as possible. Do sleep-overs, hang out during the weekends, take lots of photos, everything you guys want.

Don’t waste time feeling anxious or depressed about the future without them; focus on the present where both of you are together, and enjoy it to the fullest!

4. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re still so young!

With all the pressure put on you by other people, it’s so easy to be too hard on yourself to become better, to become the best. I’ve seen myself and my friends sacrificing fun time for school, beating ourselves up for not getting the desired grades or SAT score, and feeling not enough.

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what anyone says, you really don’t have to be “successful” or “excellent” at anything. You don’t have to have any outstanding achievements to feel good enough, nor does it mean that you won’t have a successful future.

If you have goals you want to accomplish and such, that’s great. Go ahead and strive. However, don’t beat yourself up if you fail in the process or if you don’t meet your own “deadline.”

All is fine, there’s time, and you are enough!

5. Not everything can be achieved in a day or two

I’m sure most of us have some kinds of goals that we want to achieve, whether it’s good grades, fitness, a piano piece, habit, etc. Sometimes, when we’re trying to achieve something, we tend to become impatient and seek a fast solution. However, not everything can be achieved that way.

Becoming fit or increasing your GPA won’t be achieved in a day or two. It needs consistency and discipline. These qualities admittedly aren’t easy to upkeep, but they will take you so far in life and help you achieve what you wish to.


These are the advice that I’d give my junior, my 16-year-old self. Adolescence can be a challenging time, but with self-compassion, discipline and the right direction, you’d learn so much out of it.

Good luck!