Juniors, it’s time to begin organizing and getting ready for the lengthy college admissions process
. Your senior year of high school is just around the corner and you’ll find your college checklist is quite full during your fall semester.
That’s why it’s better to ease into the college search process in April of your junior year. Getting the smaller tasks out of the way now will make your life more manageable next semester.
Maintain Your Focus
The grades your junior year may be your most important. They will be the reflection of your most recent full year of academic work on college applications
Stay focused on your academics until the very last day of classes. It will be difficult, because high school juniors are just as prone to senioritis as high school seniors, but you’ll be happy you did so once you begin filling out college applications.
Plan Your Senior Year
Target your senior courses to be challenging compared to the rest of your high school career but be realistic in your choices. Loading yourself with your school’s most difficult classes isn't necessarily the answer the answer, especially if you also have extracurricular activities, personal responsibilities, and the entire college application process to deal with as well.
Keep in mind that the college application and admissions process can require a lot of work, often comparable to an additional difficult course!
Attempt to balance your schedule by taking a wide range of subjects. Colleges like to see this in high school students because students should build their core competencies up in high school and get into more specializations while in college.
Your senior grades matter. Colleges will be looking at your grades senior year. If you've heard differently, you've heard wrong.
Stay on Track with Testing
If you are planning to take the SAT or ACT, it may be beneficial to test this spring or summer to see how you perform. Testing sooner rather than later will equip you to make decisions about your testing schedule for the fall semester. It also gives you the chance to utilize the summer to study or hone in on a particular test.
Also, do some research on potential colleges. Check to see if they’re still accepting test scores as part of their admissions process. Some colleges have gone test-blind or are continuing to operate test-optional in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
. It’s possible that you may not even need to take the SAT or ACT.
Sit down and have a discussion with your family about your college search process. Openly discuss factors that will likely affect your search such as budget
This information is pertinent to a successful process so that you can begin to develop criteria your potential college should meet.
Refine Your College List
Keeping in mind what you discussed with your family, consider your research in order to begin developing your college list. Try to eliminate schools that don’t meet all of your wants, needs, and other criteria.
Also take into consideration the school’s policy on admissions, like GPA and test scores, in order to see if you are likely to qualify for acceptance. Examine the schools you like and figure out what it is you like about them.
Are you being drawn to larger schools? If so, find schools with environments that are similar so you have plenty of options once you begin the application process.
Make Summer Plans
Spend your free time this summer doing things that show who you are as a person. That way, when you’re listing your activities on college applications, admissions officers will get a sense of your individuality.
You could spend your time at a job, saving money for school, volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about or serving in an internship
, to get a better sense of what you may like to do in the future. The most important thing is to seize the free time to learn and grow as a person.
While you’re just at the beginning of the process, these steps are helping you proactively make certain you have plenty of college choices come next year.
Organizing your college search
, which entails contemplating, discussing and researching schools, will all help in the near future. Begin to set aside time each week for your college search so you can get into the habit for next year. Your choices and decisions will likely change throughout this process, so it’s better to start sooner rather than later.
As you move forward into the next phase, the decisions become more difficult but also more exciting. Get keyed up about the upcoming year, juniors, because it’s going to be a memorable one!