Joe Declassified: School survival guide

Joe Pohoryles, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus

With this being my final column, and the year approaching its end, I’d like to take one last opportunity to answer questions from all grades:


I’m a freshman, about to be sophomore, and I couldn’t be more excited. With ninth grade under my belt, I know I’m well-prepared for these next three years. I know things are going to get more challenging, so what advice do you have for me on how to handle that?

-Soon-to-be Sophomore

Well kid, congratulations. Scream it from the rooftops: you’re a sophomore. No more being babied by teachers or antagonized by upperclassmen. Everyone knows sophomores are the most relevant high schoolers, and now you’re one of them. When you’re not busy shaming the new wave of freshmen — since by next year you can pretend you weren’t one of them just a few months prior — make sure you’re focusing on school work. Everyone longs for the days of sophomore year, so take advantage of them.

Hey Joe,

I’m not sure if I’m ready to enter 11th grade. Is it really as difficult as everyone says? What should I do?

-Jittery (almost) Junior

You’re right, junior year is exactly the same for everyone. All the stress of planning your future combined with an elevated workload is enough to drive people over the edge. Then again, you can just not do any work, and those problems go away. Switch to a schedule full of electives, and worry about graduating during senior year. The number of people who fail to move past 11th grade speaks to just how drastically more difficult it is, so to avoid the mythical horrors of junior year, just stop trying altogether.


I’ve been waiting a long time to be a senior, but now that it’s all happening I realize I have only one year left to spend with all my friends. How can I make the most of this final year?


As I write to you, I’m lying on my deathbed, looking back on what made my final year of life so special. Sure, as a departing senior I’m going off to do other things, but my life is pretty much over, isn’t it? We all try to peak in high school, so this is your last chance to do it. You’ll never see your friends ever again, so either cut them off completely to make the separation easy, or fulfill all your bucket list items before the school year ends. Your senior year will be the end of it all, so go big or go home.

Hi Joe,

Well we’ve both just about done it. After 18 years, we’re finally heading off to do other things. I’m excited for this new phase, but also really scared. Am I overthinking this whole thing?


I certainly can’t speak from experience because I’m right in this boat with you, but I will say this: As you may have read in my response to Bittersweet, our lives are just about over. Going to college, joining the military, entering the workforce, it doesn’t matter. Sure, pursuing your dream career, or serving to protect this nation is cool, but will we ever eat lunch on the floor with our backs against some lockers again? What about paying zero attention to what’s going on at pep rallies as you wait to be dismissed? We all know high school is the best time of everyone’s lives, so get ready for it all to go downhill now that it’s over. You should be scared, because how could things ever get any better than this? Just try to keep an open-mind, I guess. That’s all I can really suggest.

Well, I hate to disappoint my hundreds (thousands?) of fans out there, but this marks the end of Joe Knows. I know what you’re thinking, how will we ever survive now? I get it, these feelings are natural. The truth is all good things must come to an end, and I’d imagine the same applies to mediocre things like this. Anyone who’s seriously upset, don’t be. After all, that’s what this whole column was about: when it comes to high school, you should never take things too seriously.

Thanks, and all the best,