University of Wisconsin–Madison

Third Year: Balancing Fun and Future

For students, junior year is all about finding balance between academics and out-of-classroom experiences.

Studying abroad, taking a spring break trip, participating in a campus group, attending events, having an internship, doing research — any of these options contribute to the college experience. Juniors also think about senior year and the career that may follow graduation.

Parents and family members can help by encouraging balance: a mix of studies as well as other activities. Students who have already established good study habits will find it easier to make time for other things.

By junior year, most students have declared a major, learned the landscape of college and the UW, and established social networks that make them feel supported at school. Now is a good time to talk to your student about specific career goals and encourage a plan of action. Having such a plan provides a sense of purpose — whether it’s bringing up a grade-point average or graduating on time — and it can help reduce the stress that senior year can bring.

Junior year is the ideal time for students to decide how they want to define their overall Wisconsin experience. How will they want to look back at their time at UW–Madison? Most alumni talk about a mix of in-class and out-of-class learning experiences.

Having some fun helps students avoid burnout and learn to strike a balance that will serve them well in their lives after college. As juniors, they’re comfortable with their surroundings, which makes it easier to explore opportunities both on campus and beyond. Talk to your student about your own experiences at that age, and remind your student that college is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Proud Badger alumni will gladly tell students that no matter what they are doing — whether they are cheering at Camp Randall, meeting friends at Memorial Union, or trudging up Bascom Hill — they are creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Balance is key. By thinking both about their time at UW–Madison and what will enhance a future resume, juniors can experience an exciting and pivotal transition to senior year.