Second Semester Junior Year: A Time of Guided Transition

The second semester of junior year is a time of transition and self-reflection. Students must be prepared to lead just as seniors prepare to depart. Juniors begin with a Community Life meeting, followed by a Leadership meeting in March. Before spring vacation, they fill out the crucial Junior Survey, and afterwards they sit down for the Junior Interview. Amidst the leadership preparation, juniors ride a parallel track with the College Office that readies them for the complex and challenging admissions process.

The kick-off of Junior Transition, the Community Life meeting, revolves around one question: What does it mean to be a Senior? Juniors discuss both the privileges and responsibilities that come with being a senior—from new sign-out rules to ways to be a role model in a range of situations. Facilitated by class advisors and deans, the conversation then shifts to specific ways to lead. Prompts are guided by our working definition of a leader, and they aim to explore all facets of leadership at Middlesex. Inevitably, each junior will be a leader next year by virtue of their seniority, and each must understand the responsibility assumed in that role.

The end of junior year not only requires an increased responsibility as a role model at Middlesex; it also means preparing for life after MX. Here, the College Office plays a vital role in preparing families and students for the long and challenging college admissions process. During the winter, juniors completed a lengthy self-assessment that takes on a more holistic view than the Junior Survey. Here students share details about their family lives as well as their long-term dreams and aspirations. A few weeks after juniors complete the self-assessment survey, they bring their parents along for the first official introduction to the college process. During Junior Parents’ Day, families receive a crash course in the college process and a preview for the months ahead.

A few weeks later, juniors attend a class leadership meeting, an informative question-and-answer session that helps juniors frame and plan their dive into major leadership roles at Middlesex. They learn about the Junior Survey and the specific responsibilities of the varied leadership positions available for rising seniors to fill. Indeed, many of these positions are well-known—Chapel Trustee or dorm proctor—but the program also aims to explore the expanse of positions that can be overlooked. Heads of student clubs and extracurricular programs, such as team captains and heads of affinity groups, are considered leadership positions. Some positions require considerable time, responsibility, and student participation. A few of these include Editors of the Anvil and the Iris, Choral Officers, and Heads of Freedom of Speech. At the meeting’s close, juniors leave with a deeper sense of the opportunities that wait ahead of them as well as an expectation to narrow the positions they see themselves taking on.

Before juniors leave for March vacation, they complete the Junior Survey—a crucial self-assessment in which students describe their leadership skills, their leadership position preferences, and the leadership abilities of their class as a whole. Questions include: “In what respects do you consider yourself a role model for others?” and “Discuss a senior whom you admire and respect—why do you respect and admire this senior?” The surveys are shared with the faculty that conduct Junior Interviews and help guide each student’s transition process throughout the spring.

After March break, juniors sit down for the Junior Interview, which is both a practice run at interviewing as well as an opportunity for rising seniors to express things about themselves on a deeper level. Indeed, interviews can play a crucial role in the college process, so a test run of sorts often proves valuable. Critically, the interview also allows each junior to explain how they function and represent themselves in the context of the MX community. What do they see as their class’s legacy? What are some future goals of theirs? Each interview is run by two faculty members who have read the student’s survey and seeks to learn more about the student’s values and goals. Armed with students’ leadership preferences from the survey and answers during the interview, faculty members ultimately recommend senior leadership positions for each junior.

Amidst their leadership training, juniors work closely with the college office to build a list of possible colleges where they may apply in the fall. Facilitated by college counselors, this process requires deep self-reflection from students as they imagine what sorts of schools may suit them best. Juniors are guided not only in determining which schools may offer the best fit but also in drafting their college essays. A narrative essay is critically different from the traditional five-paragraph essay, and AP English teachers spend the weeks after AP exams with juniors as they draft their first college essays before departing for summer vacation. Indeed, the second semester of junior year is packed with leadership training, college admissions preparation, and frequent self-reflection. Though it is busy, the constant hard work of students and faculty alike during this semester pay off when the juniors return to MX as senior role models in the fall.