As a junior, you determine a lot of what would happen in your senior year with the decisions you make now. How you approach your exams, your grades, search for colleges to attend, and how you feel are of utmost importance. In this phase, you need to figure out and choose the activities you enjoy most, what interests you, and if you want to pursue them professionally.
In this article, we break down what you should be doing by each season so as not to overwhelm you. Please take note that you can start making plans and scheduling tests at any time of the year, except in cases where exam dates are fixed.
If you haven’t set goals, now is the time to set goals. Do this with your school’s counselor or an experienced guide to avoid mistakes and be equipped with resources that would help you make informed decisions. Now is not the time to schedule appointments and forget about them or expect your counselor or guide to follow up on you. Instead, be proactive and get the best they have to offer. Control what you can and ask for help when needed.
TRY OUT TESTS LIKE PSAT & NMSQT
Taking your high school’s PSAT standardized exam will prepare you for the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test required by some colleges) and doubles as a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. If you haven’t taken this exam, ask your counselor about your school’s plan for the exam. It is usually scheduled for October annually; however, due to COVID-19, the PSAT is tentatively scheduled to take place in the winter.
COMPILE A LIST OF COLLEGES
An important thing you need to do now is to start compiling a list of colleges that are good fits for you financially, academically, and socially. Upon compilation of your preferred colleges, you can start attending college fairs – virtual and in-person – and begin reaching out to college admission representatives who have been assigned to your high school or community. A great resource to help with building your list is CollegeBoard’s college planning tool, Big Future.
TAKE THE ACT OR SAT
We’ve covered the section of taking the PSAT and NMSQT in preparation for SATs, and it’s time to repeat the idea that you need to approach your exams with your goals in mind. College goals, we mean. Presenting your results from these exams shows the college you’re applying to how ready you are for college-level courses; hence, you need to reach out to your counselor or experienced guide on which tests and exams you need to take. This is dependent on the colleges you are applying to, don’t forget that.
Great news! If you are a student that believes your test scores do not accurately reflect your academic potential, then you may want to consider checking out the list of colleges at fairtest.org that offer test-optional and test-flexible plans.
PLAN YOUR SENIOR CLASS SCHEDULES NOW
Your academic record is crucial to your college application. College admissions representatives not only want to see how ready you are for college-level courses, but how you’ve challenged yourself. Drawing from the introductory speech of figuring out your interests and activities you enjoy most, you need to plan your Senior class schedule now to fit those interests and activities. Go for things that will challenge you and make you shine. Find the balance. Don’t do it because it’s available but because you have a passion for it, and it would simultaneously help your applications.
SIGN UP AND KEEP UPDATED
Sign up and create your Common App or Coalition App accounts. Getting on these apps gives you an insight into the types of questions you’ll be asked during your application. You can create your account on these apps at any time, and your username and password are the same until you change them. These apps have their differences, so we encourage you to read this Teen Life article to help you decide which platform may work better for you. Begin practicing your essays. You could write about COVID-19 and how it affected you or those in your community. Having random drafts would go a long way with your final essays.
Another important thing to do is to reach out to recommenders for recommendations. We have a blog post on how to gather stellar recommendation letters. You don’t have to wait until Senior year to secure your recommenders. Choose teachers who know you well, like you, teach core subject areas (in most cases), and have taught you recently, preferably during junior year. Ask well in advance, provide your teacher with plenty of helpful information, and express your gratitude.
RELAX AND DO SOMETHING OUT SCHOOL WORK
It’s time to relax and be taken care of! However, with your goals in mind, you want to relax with a purpose. Relax from your schoolwork—volunteer in your community. Go for summer camps in your area of interest. Get a part-time job. Work on your passion projects. Get a head start on your college applications. These activities will help you develop your character and strengthen your skills during your college application.
VISIT YOUR PREFERRED COLLEGES
This is a brief reminder to visit colleges and universities you are interested in, whether virtually or in person. Get a feel of what the experience is like. Attend an information session. Take a campus tour. Reach out to current students on LinkedIn or school communities. Talk to your counselor or experienced guide to help you schedule tours whether in-person or virtual, and get their insight.
TOP FIVE COLLEGES?
After all is said and done all through the year, it is time to narrow down which colleges are most important. Once they have been narrowed, discuss them with your counselor or experienced guide. With the tours and college search, you would have a clearer idea of what you’re looking for in a school and what the schools on your list have to offer. When you write and receive your junior year grades and other college entrance exams you have participated in, you’ll know how your results correlate with your preferred college acceptance ranges. Discuss your choices with your parents, counselor, and experienced guide to ensure you are making an informed decision.
These actions look daunting, but college in your junior year is no longer a distant concept looming in your future. It is now an actual reality, and you need to begin preparing intentionally for it today.
Need help with discovering the colleges where you will thrive as a student? Schedule your personalized Initial Consultation Session today!
Your consultant will help both students and parents understand the process of college admissions and will evaluate the student’s college options based on the available academic record, PSAT/SAT/ACT scores, and extracurricular activities. Families can take advantage of the Initial Consultation Session as early as 8th grade!
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