Student Life

December College Prep Checklist for High School Juniors

It's never too early to start work on your college application.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

November 28, 2023

December College Prep Checklist for High School Juniors
December can be crazy, but don't forget about your college search!
We know December is perhaps the busiest month of the year, but don’t forget about your college search! There’s so much to do and the winter season is no exception. Here are some suggestions of what you can work on this month to get ahead.

College Planning Checklist for High School Juniors

Stay Diligent

Don’t leave everything until the summer or fall. There’s plenty of time to start working on those college applications now.
For instance, you can start outlining ideas for an admissions essay. You can also create a short list of teachers and mentors that you can ask for letters of recommendation. The time to ask for letters of recommendation will be here before you know it. We suggest asking recommenders during the second semester of junior year, which gives them plenty of time to carefully craft your letters amidst their busy schedules.

Talk to Your Parents

If you want to involve your parents in your college search, make sure they know the ways in which you’d like them to be involved. Even though you’re the one applying, parents will likely want to help in any way they can.
Talk to them about your application process, financial expectations, scheduling college visits, and meetings with your college counselor. It’s important to have these conversations so that your family is on the same page with your college plan. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a great time to have this conversation. Your parents or guardians may have a more flexible work schedule during this week, and you won’t be busy with homework and extracurricular activities. Try to prepare in advance for this conversation by organizing your own thoughts on the college admissions process.

Plan Your Summer Early

It’s never too early to plan for the summer. Whether you’d like to get a job, an internship, or volunteer to beef up that college application, the time to figure it out is now.
Other students will be working to fill up their summer months as well. Now is a great time to make a list of places you'd like to consider and reach out to them about their summer hiring outlook and process. Companies will be hiring summer interns at this point, and any study abroad or summer camp experiences may have deadlines this month or next.

Keep Researching

Make a list of what’s important to you in a college and get information about potential colleges so you can see how they match your expectations. From learning about their application processes to figuring out what your curriculum would look like, college sites are full of important information you need to know. The more prepared you are with information about your potential schools, the easier the application process and the more informed your decision can be.

Make a Test Prep Plan

It’s just about time to put together a plan for future ACT or SAT tests. Do you plan on taking ACT and SAT prep courses, working with tutors, or purchasing materials to help study for the exams? It’s important to know your options and plan ahead so you’ll be prepared come test time. It's also a great time to start prepping for the SAT and ACT. Read classic literature from this list in order to prepare yourself for standardized testing. Try a few of these online games to build up your skills. You don't need to get into the difficult prep at this point; just have some fun with it.

Continue to Explore Your Options

You may think you know what colleges want to see and you probably do -– to a certain extent. Be genuine in whatever you do for your applications. Make sure that any community service or volunteer work you do is because you want to do it, not just to fill a space on your college application. You can remedy this by choosing activities you truly enjoy. Explore different types of activities and opportunities to see what you actually enjoy doing. Remember, as much as you think you know, college admissions officers have been doing this forever. They can easily spot students that aren't being as genuine as they ought to be.

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