Congrats, you’re a soon-to-be upperclassman! 11th grade is an exciting time; you’ll start investigating colleges, take your standardized exams and ask for recommendation letters from your teachers.
It’s more important, now than ever, to remember that the more organized you are in your studies and prepared to enter the college preparation process, the more you’ll be able to enjoy every moment as an upperclassman in high school.
Preparation is key! As the Coronavirus pandemic taught us, there can and will be wrenches thrown into even the most thought-out plans. It’s better to be ahead, than behind before a stall—pandemic or not.
Looking for more COVID-19 student-impact information? Find it here.
Here’s a July checklist for the aspiring school juniors with six tasks, in terms of your college search and planning processes, you can use to prepare for the upcoming year:
- Question taking ACT or SAT this year.
It’s important to consider taking standardized exams as a junior because the earlier you take them on, the more chances you’ll have to study more and retake, if necessary. Think about which exam you’d like to take, or both, considering what your potential colleges require you to take.
Standardized exam requirements related to college admissions in 2020-2021 and forward may look a lot different. U.S. News & World Report mentions, “An increasing number of colleges and universities, including some of the country’s most prestigious institutions, are modifying their standardized testing policies in light of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Some schools are embracing the test optional policies. Work with your high school counselor to stay on top of these standardized test adaptations. Also, be sure your counselor is aware of your dream colleges. This way you both can stay in-the-know on any testing adjustments these universities make. You can visit the schools’ Websites to see if ACT/SAT requirements have been modified, and what that may look like moving forward. This may influence if you take standardized tests and/or how many practice exams you decide to take your junior year!
Prepare by signing up and participating in online practice exams, test prep courses, utilizing free online resources or even practicing questions on study apps. Also note the test dates!
- Consider signing up for AP classes this coming semester
If you’re able to handle them, Advanced Placement courses will look great on your college applications and your student transcript. Another bonus, AP courses are a smart way to earn college credits while saving money.
Consider speaking with your teachers to discuss whether taking on an AP course would be a good idea for you. Set up a meeting with your counselor to review what AP courses your school offers and their transferability after graduation.
- Plan on attending virtual college fairs
You’ll soon learn that attending college fairs is efficient in a multitude of ways: you’re basically able to cram several mini-college visits into a short span of time. At these fairs, you’re able to learn a lot of information about the college and whether it should be on your list of considerations.
Additionally, you may even be exposed to new schools that you would not have looked at on your own! These fairs are worthwhile for students embarking upon the college process.
Visit College Fairs to check their on-going list of college participating in 2020 virtual fairs. If you find a college you're interested be sure to sign up for the virtual conference and college fair.
StriveScan is another great college exploration tool that's free for students.
Stay safe at home by attending a virtual college fair. This type of environment would make it even a safer place to invite your parents along on your virtual visit. While these types of visit have existed for a while, 2020 upped the ante of the virtual college fair approach; this trend could stick for years to come.
- Start researching colleges of interest
You’re still early to dive too deep into the college admissions process, but it’s not too early to begin looking into colleges that interest you. Sign up for admissions information from each school and create a folder with sections you can dedicate to your college prospects. Get an idea of the universities require for test scores, what types of extracurricular activities they offer and how their admissions offices work.
Helpful Tip: Add a few blank pages for notes before each university section/sleeve. Include a few sleeves for each college. As you receive admissions pieces, place them in their dedicated sleeve, and add simple notes on what you like or don't like. Doing this can help you target what aspects are most important to you in a college.
This will serve as a great way to keep your parents involved and informed, and you organized as you continue your research. You’ll also find it helpful your senior year of high school when you have bigger decisions to make.
- Educate Yourself on Financial Aid
While it may seem too early to worry about paying for school, it's not too early to begin understanding the financial aid options you may have, come 2022. Use your junior year of high school to understand what the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is and types of financial aid that are out there for you to use. Your guidance counselors can also help you answer any of the common financial aid questions. You’ll be grateful and ahead if you have a basic understanding of financial aid.
- Apply for scholarships
It’s important to remain diligent in your scholarship search, even with the business of your upcoming junior year of high school. Continue the practice of applying for as many scholarships as you qualify for. Start by applying for one scholarship a week this year! This list of Scholarships for The Class of 2022 is a great place to start.