04/23/2013 04:37 pm ET Updated Jun 23, 2013



Living at a state where one is neither predator nor prey in the high school food chain is definitely an awkward stage of sorts. While freshmen are eager about no longer being freshmen, juniors look forward to being seniors, and seniors are ecstatic to leave the school, there is nothing exciting about the end of sophomore year.

Sophomore year is truly a year in limbo -- one where workloads get harder, pressure gets more intense, yet we are still not upperclassmen. There is something so weird about it, the complete presence and lack of seniority that we possess. While in some avenues we acquire board positions and find ourselves very involved, there are many cases where we look up at the seniors and feel meager in comparison.

Even worse, junior year is starting to peek out and greet with us an evil Cheshire cat grin. While choosing courses, all we heard was how junior year was the worst year of our lives, in addition to witnessing our older friends breaking down as they deal with this period of turmoil.

With being upperclassmen comes a crazy year that will test us as people, our academic talent, our friendships and our time management skills. The pressure is on, with college becoming a more impending evil than ever before. Stress comes at an all-time high, with this being our true last chance to impress colleges with our grades, fearing that just one bad grade could take a dream school out of the realistic realm.

On top of all of these stressors, standardized testing and extracurriculars make the lives of a junior something that could only be described accurately as testing and extracurriculars
make the lives of a junior something that could only be described accurately as overwhelming.

Colleges these days expect extraordinary people, the amazing talented juggernaut with a perfect SAT score, a 4.0 GPA and successful involvement in at least 10 extracurricular activities.

Competition is a disheartening fact of the college admissions process, as even though one may be an excellent student, it does not necessarily mean they would stand out in a pool of hyper-talented applicants. With regular decisions results having just come out last month, the admissions rates at most schools are dropping to an all-time low.

I giggle when looking at college websites who say to have a "schedule that is challenging but promotes a balanced lifestyle." Academic rigor and a balanced lifestyle are like oil and water -- they never mix. Even when you find a happy medium of the two, what will often be found is there is not any equilibrium between the two elements -- the dominating one usually being the rigor.

Looking at the other grades counting down the days until summer, I am envious. While they are all off on exciting adventures, nearing exciting portions of their lives, all I am feeling is apprehension. My summer? A mountain of summer work from my honors and AP classes, SAT prep and an academic summer program.

All of the stress I feel makes me envious of my little brother, who is starting sixth grade this fall. It's safe to say I am probably not the only one.