Which grade has it the toughest?


Seniors Sean Choi, Bryan Lee, and Andrew Ham are studying in the senior lounge.

High school is not easy. Each year is a new journey, but with each passing year, new difficulties arise and new challenges are encountered. When the student body was asked which grade was the toughest, students voted that junior year was the toughest year. 

“The workload for junior year is incomparable to the grades before,” Jane Park (11) said. “Many people take several APs, which is very time consuming. This is a big leap from sophomore year because you have everything from sophomore year—the activities, sports, and club—but you have harder classes and more APs.”

The classes are harder, but there are a lot of things that juniors need to consider and think about. “Not only are classes harder, juniors need to start thinking about college,” Anika Kurebayashi (11) said. “Junior year is the last year before writing applications. Students feel pressured to do better.” The looming college application makes the juniors feel like they have to achieve much more during this year, adding stress to their already hectic schedule.

Students voted sophomore year as the second toughest year. “As a senior looking back, sophomore year was one of the hardest years,” Eric Lee (12) said. “The AP classes that we took were high level courses with heavy workloads, especially AP US History. There was a lot of work needed and you would not be able to survive with procrastination.”

Many attributed the significance of taking “the first AP” as a big factor into the toughness of sophomore year. “As a sophomore, I felt that we were being assessed at a much higher standard than freshman year, perhaps closer to the upperclassmen especially for my AP class.” Liam Lee (10). “There are constant high expectations and it was quite hard to keep up and maintain grades. It is certainly a big jump from your first year in high school.”

When students were asked about the year with the most exaggerated workload, freshman year got the most votes. “When I was freshman, I thought that what we were doing was hard,” said Steven Kim (11). “It was a new environment, and the thought that our grades really mattered made me very nervous. We used to stress out because of biology lab reports, but looking back, those were really just the basics.”

Even though people say freshman year has the most exaggerated workload, there are still challenges that freshmen face when coming into high school. “The hardest part of freshman year would be adjusting to the many changes there are,” said Jin Lee (9). “There was a bit of a jump from the middle school work that we were doing. It took me a bit of time to get used to the format of several classes and understand what type of work was required by each class.” 

When asked what grade level they would want to be at this moment, most students said they would like to be a senior. When students were asked the reason for this choice, most students said that they were eager to graduate and move onto their next step in life.

“I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Philip Ham (12). “The four years of hard work is expressed in your college application, which brings a lot of pressure. However, the prospect of college really keeps me going. Just the thought of going into the new environment of college intrigues me.”

“Senior year is by no means easy,” said Julia Cheon (12). “We take a lot of AP classes, and on top of that we have to write our college applications. Despite all of the stress and pressure, I think senior year has a unique chill aspect. With the thrill of finally graduating, and the excitement of moving onto a new chapter of our lives, I feel that my other years of high school are paying off.”

Although junior and sophomore year were voted as the toughest years, all four years of high school have its own unique challenges that make up the identity of the grade. 

“High school has been quite the journey for me,” said Bryan Lee (12), high school survivor. “A piece of advice that I would like to give to all high schoolers is that in order to navigate through high school successfully, focus on yourself and believe in what you do. Just because people around you take part in certain activities, that doesn’t make them better, and you should take your own independent path. This will help you keep your priorities straight, allowing for a more organized and efficient lifestyle.”