Top Five Tasks for College-Bound Juniors Right Now

Elizabeth Hoyt

February 20, 2018

Top Five Tasks for College-Bound Juniors Right Now
Juniors, follow this checklist to help you keep your college search on track in February and March.
It’s understandable to get early-onset senioritis come February - after all, it is contagious, isn’t it? But, in all seriousness, the holidays have passed and there’s just one last semester standing between you and that glorious senior year of high school. And, while senior year of high school is likely going to be one of the best of your life, preparing now will help you avoid its stresses so you can enjoy each moment of the last days of high school!
Now is a great time to start all of the planning for spring and summer exams, visits and scheduling. It will also help you start getting into the practice of good habits for your college applications because, come senior year, you’ll need those to keep up with everything. Here are the top five areas for college-bound juniors to focus on now:
1. Register to take your standardized tests now!
While many students wait until summertime before senior year to study for their SAT/ACT exams, a smarter option is to take the exams early in the spring semester of their junior year. Why? If you wait to take it in the summer, you only have one or two opportunities left to retake the exam and improve your score – and that’s after waiting to get your initial score back. That leaves you little to no time to study for the retake in between. If you take it in the early spring of your junior year, you’ll have plenty of time to study over the summer and retake the exam, with a lot less added stress.
Plus, taking the test a few times certainly doesn't hurt – especially since many students get nervous when timing is a factor. Makes sense when you think about it, doesn't it?
2. Register for SAT Subject Tests relevant to what you’re studying in school.
Many colleges require and/or accept scores from SAT Subject tests. Juniors should take any relevant SAT Subject Tests – relevant meaning subjects which they are currently taking courses in. The reason being that you’re likely to score better on a Subject Test with material you’ve already been studying in school throughout the semester, since the material is already fresh in your mind. Sure, you can review and study for the exam, however, starting on a subject that you haven’t looked at in a while can seriously stress you out. Don’t you have enough to worry about at this point? We certainly think so!
3. Take advantage of your spring break and visit colleges you’re interested in.
Whether you want to make a road trip out of it and go far or stay closer to home and visit local, in-state schools, your spring break is a great time to do so. It’s especially great in that it’s one of the few unique opportunities you (and your parents) will have to visit a campus while school is in session, which means you’ll be able to observe what it’s like on a daily basis for students in terms of student life. Visiting during holidays and summer break is great, too. However, you don’t get the extra added benefit of seeing an active campus which, quite honestly, is going to become a huge part of your college experience!
4. Ask your teachers about letters of recommendation.
It’s never a good idea – in terms of planning or courtesy – to ask for a letter of recommendation right before your application due date. Start identifying which teachers you’d like to approach now and then talk to them about your college search, asking whether or not they’d be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. Most teachers will be flattered that you’ve asked and pleasantly surprised that you’re planning ahead and giving them ample time to draft a well-thought out letter.
5. Make an appointment with your guidance counselor to talk about your search.
Your guidance counselor will become one of your best resources throughout the next year so, the sooner you two get to know one another, the better. Make an appointment (or drop in, if that’s the policy) this month to discuss your college search, applications, test prep, your goals and whatever else is on your mind. Doing so sooner than later will benefit you in the long run and will help your counselor give you the best advice now and throughout your college admissions process.

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