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Preparing for College: Junior Year

College and University Blog - Resources, help, and insight for your college experience

The momentum picks up your junior year when it comes to preparing for college. This year will be busy as you start your college search, handle challenging class work, and take important tests. The following will help you in your preparation:

  • Take the most vigorous academic schedule you can handle. It shows college admissions officers that you’re ready for a competitive college environment.
  • Continue meeting with your school guidance counselor to discuss your college plans. They will be a great help in keeping you on schedule.
  • If your school offers a college night or financial aid meeting, attend. Bring your parents so they can have their concerns addressed.
  • Continue to be involved in clubs and extracurricular activities. If you did not take a leadership role as a sophomore, consider doing this your junior year. Leadership skills and experience are great adders to your college application. Colleges pay attention to your life both inside and outside the classroom. Your academics come first, but your extracurricular activities reveal a great deal about you. Colleges can see how you’ve made a contribution to something, what your non-academic interests are, whether you can maintain a commitment, whether you can manage your time, and what diversity you’d bring to the student body. Some students need to work while attending high school. Colleges understand this. If this is your situation, you will have a chance to explain your circumstances and talk about the skills you’ve gained on the job when you apply to college.
  • Begin to consider which teachers, counselors, or employers you might ask for college recommendations.
  • Continue to research how much money you’ll need for college, whether you have saved enough, and what you need to do to pay for school. Talk to your parents about your options. Keep researching possible scholarship opportunities. Start applying for scholarships in the spring.
  • Continue to apply for jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities. These activities can be done during the school year, during breaks, or during the summer. If you are fortunate enough to find a position related to your academic interests, you can see first hand whether it is a good fit.
  • Continue to go to college fairs in your area. College representatives are available to answer your questions.
  • Visit even more colleges while they’re in session. You will be able to see what daily life is like and to talk to students already attending the college. Spend time at the college of a friend by spending the weekend with them. While academics are very important, you will also like to know about life outside of the classroom. You may have a good idea of which colleges you might like to attend. Try to visit these colleges.
  • If you haven’t already – register, prepare for, and take the PSAT. This test can hook you into opportunities. Checking “yes” in the box that allows other organizations to contact you will allow scholarship programs, summer programs, and colleges to contact you with information on more opportunities. In addition, the PSAT is required to qualify for some opportunities, such as the National Merit Scholarship program. Taking the PSAT will give you a feel for how to approach the SAT. Financial assistance is generally not offered for the PSAT. These tests can be a worthwhile investment. Your guidance counselor can provide information about the PSAT, such as when the test will be held.
  • Take the SAT exam in the spring. You can take either the SAT Reasoning Test or up to three SAT Subject Tests on a single test day. Plan your schedule carefully if you want to take both types of SAT.
  • Start visiting local colleges: large, small, public, and private. Get a feel for what will work for you. Compose a list of colleges that interest you (try for no more than 20). Check academic requirements for your prospective schools. Summer is the best time to fill any academics gaps.
  • Request applications, brochures, and financial aid information from your top college choices.
  • Get started on college application essays by writing drafts.
  • Athletes should register with the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse at the end of the academic year.
  • Put together your resume – include academic record, extracurricular activities, honors, volunteer work, and jobs.
  • Review your class schedule for senior year with your counselor. Challenge yourself with honors and AP classes. Proceed with sequences you’ve started (such as languages).
  • Visit colleges. Take campus tours. Schedule interviews with admissions counselors at the colleges you’re serious about.
  • Request applications from colleges you want to apply to. Check deadlines. Some universities have early dates or rolling admissions.

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