May College Prep Checklist for High School Juniors

High school juniors can finish the school year strong with this to-do list for the month of May.

Shawna Newman

April 26, 2024

May College Prep Checklist for High School Juniors
Rising seniors, here's an action plan you can focus on in May.
Can you believe it? You're almost a high school SENIOR: rulers of the school, the Class of 2025. But, before you begin to celebrate, you still have plenty to do to cross the high school finish line. As the school year ends, you need to prepare for your summer job, volunteer activities, and the college admissions process. Make this summer count!

College Planning Checklist for High School Juniors

Here's what you should try to accomplish during the month of May:

1. Letters of Recommendation

Believe it or not, it's time to ask for letters of recommendation for college. Doing so now gives your recommenders the chance to work on your letter over the summer when they have more time. Come college application season, they will be overwhelmed with requests. If you haven't done so, create a list of individuals to ask. Letters of recommendation need to come from teachers, coaches, or mentors, who know you well and have witnessed the personality traits and work ethic that would be perfect for the colleges you're considering.

2. Consider Advanced Placement Courses

This is your last chance to talk about AP courses that may be offered next year. Ask your school counselor which courses they feel you'd qualify for your senior year. You should also use some of your time to investigate free AP prep courses from popular and free online learning sites like EdX. Many of these courses are offered from the best world-known colleges and universities. Bonus: You can add any course completion/certifications to build your college resume or to enhance your scholarship essays!

3. Your Scholarship Search

Search and apply for scholarships on your down time – now and over the summer. The more time you give yourself to put in the effort to search and apply for scholarships, the better your odds are of winning one. Our best advice? Apply early and apply often! Also, pick a day of the week you'll apply for one or two scholarships. Get it on your calendar and commit. Oftentimes the best way to get something done is to make it a habit.

4. Standardized Testing

If you have not done so already, make sure to schedule standardized test (ACT or SAT) prep courses over the summer. Khan Academy offers FREE test prep and practice exams with interactive videos and tons of tips you could use to be a better test taker. If you already know where you will be applying to college in the fall, check to see if they have gone test optional. Many colleges made changes to their test requirements the past few admissions seasons and may continue to do so for next year. Use promo code FASTWEB23 to take 23% off Exam Edge test prep.*

5. Build Your College Resume

Build your resume by signing up for summer volunteer programs, a summer job, or extracurricular activities you enjoy. Keep in mind, you should always be building network connections. For instance, if you're interested in veterinary school, volunteer at your local animal shelter and network with your boss. He/she will remember your efforts and could possibly craft an excellent recommendation letter on your behalf!

6. Explore College Campuses Virtually – or In Person!

Check sites, like Appily or Campus Tours, to see if your college has created a virtual tour. Be sure to set time aside to have your parents join your virtual visits this summer. You can also visit college campuses in-person. Though there won't be students on campus, it's still a great time to visit. It's also easier on your schedule to make those longer college visits. Helpful Tip: Purchase a notebook for your visits. Take notes on the things you liked, didn't like, and questions you have for the college admissions team.

7. Establish a Summer Savings Account

Set up a summer savings plan, which allows you to start saving for college now! The earlier you get started on saving, the better financial state you'll be in when you begin college.

8. Research Colleges

Start thinking about what you want out of a college in terms of academics, social (like Greek life, clubs and organizations), and campus lifestyle. Create a list of all the factors you're looking for – detailing negotiable and non-negotiable factors. Begin researching institutions that fit the criteria on the lists you made. From there, you can begin to decide which colleges you'd like to visit and learn more about.

9. Practice College Applications & Essay Writing

You can begin practicing filling out college applications as well as creating outlines and college essay rough drafts – even if it's just for practice. This will make the entire college application process much smoother once fall comes! *As an affiliate partner of Exam Edge, Fastweb may be compensated when you click the link in this article and/or take other qualifying actions.

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