Ready or not, juniors, here it comes! Your college admissions process is gearing up now more than ever, and it is only going to intensify from here on out. We do not mean to strike fear within you; but rather, deliver a wake-up call.
The more you prepare now, the easier things will be down the road. Though we can warn you until we are blue in the face, it’s ultimately up to you to take the process into your own hands. Here are tasks high school juniors should take on in March to prepare for college admissions.
Take the ACT and/or SAT
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the standardized testing landscape. Before signing up to take a test, check to see if the schools that you’re interested in are requiring standardized test scores, as many colleges have opted to go test-optional.
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If you’re still undecided about whether or not to take the ACT or SAT, here are 10 things to consider in your decision-making process
. Also, if you decide not to take a standardized test, here are a few ways you can make your college application
If you do plan to take the SAT or ACT after doing a bit of research, make sure you have at least one standardized test score going into your senior year. You will always have the option of retaking the test if you like, and if you are not happy with your score
, you have the entire summer to study and prepare for the retake.
Identify the Admissions Criteria for Your Top Schools
If you haven’t already made a list of your top schools, start now. Research and gather the admissions criteria to figure out which schools are realistic and which schools would be a reach for you. That way, you can have an idea of where you stand academically and where you need to be if you want to gain admission into a particular school.
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A good rule of thumb for college admissions is to apply to reach, target, and safety schools. A reach school is a college that you aren't sure you can get into -- but would like to try. A safety school is a college that is a great fit academically and financially. Finally, safety schools are those that you know
you can get into. Perhaps it's a community college or the university in your hometown.
Plan College Visits and Interviews
Near or far, try to plan as many college visits as you’re able from this point on throughout the summer. Keep in mind that it’s ideal to visit colleges while they’re in session
so that you can get an idea of what the student life is like at the peak points. Contact prospective colleges you’re interested in and let them know you’d like to schedule a college interview and/or visit.
If campuses you wish to visit are still closed because of the pandemic, contact an admissions officer at the school anyway. Declare your interest and ask about virtual tours or information sessions that you can attend. Every college, at this point, has plenty to offer in the way of enticing and educating prospective students. Don't let the circumstances now impact your future.
Ask for Letters of Recommendation Early
It’s a good idea to ask for letters of recommendation from your teachers and coaches now
– before the rush at the end of your junior year or beginning of your senior year. If you ask now, chances are your teachers will put more time and effort in writing a well thought-out letter, which only works in your favor.
Plan a Strong Senior Year Schedule
Colleges want to make sure you’re continually challenging yourself throughout your high school career. Ensure you have a strong, balanced schedule your senior year by planning it out now.
High school seniors have a tendency to fight senioritis
, and it can begin as early as the end of your junior year. Just remember that your grades during your senior year impact admissions decisions just as much as your freshman, sophomore and junior years of high school.
Apply for Scholarships
As always, you should continue to apply for scholarships
. Paying for college will require you to pull from a variety of resources, and you can always use extra money to pay for school. Start saving now to make give yourself more options later.
Make sure to continually apply to scholarships you match to and don't get discouraged if you don't win. Applying is ultimately a numbers game, and the more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances are of winning. That means, applying early and often, juniors!