Junior year is the last full academic year that colleges will see so it’s important to put your best effort in now. Take caution, though. Junior year is likely the most difficult year you will face. For many of you, you will be stretching yourself academically with AP or IB classes, you’ll be taking on leadership positions in your extra-curricular activities and you will be preparing to take standardized tests. It can be overwhelming. In light of all you have to do, it’s understandable to push off thinking about your college applications until the summer; but the deadlines will be here before you know it. Here’s how you should think about junior year:
- Review Academic Plan – are you on track to graduate with all requirements?
- Plan Recommendation Strategy – which two teachers from junior year will write your recommendations?
- Take On Leadership Roles – if there isn’t a natural leadership opportunity for you to claim, create one. Leaders are not always made my title; they are often made by behaviors.
- Begin to Think About Summer Plans – a student who leverages high school summers has the equivalent of a full academic year on those who don’t.
- Create Your Activity List – start with a list of all activities in and out of school since the summer before 9th
- Take PSAT – this the test that is used to determine National Merit Scholar.
- Plan Test Prep Strategy – will you take the ACT or SAT? When? How about subject tests and AP exams?
Expert Tip: Be Aware of State-Specific College Coursework Requirements Such as Visual Arts Credit for the University of California Schools
- Pick Senior Year Classes – make sure you continue to challenge yourself academically and have met all of your graduation AND college application requirements such as language, art, etc. depending on the state and school
- Develop Recommendation Packets – help your recommenders write strong recommendations by providing them with examples of how you have distinguished yourself as a student and as a community member
- Create Resume – convert your activity list into a resume which you will continue to build on throughout senior year
- Schedule Summer Coursework – pursue an area of academic interest through a research opportunity, structured summer program or independent study
- Do Test Prep – some colleges require you to submit all test scores, not just those you choose to submit so don’t take an official test to “get a base score.” Make sure you get necessary prep from a tutor, class or a free resource such as those provided through The College Board or Khan Academy.
- Take ACT/SAT/Subject Tests – try to schedule your subject test close to the corresponding AP exam so you can leverage the study time for both
- Create College List – Start doing your research to create a college list of 8-12 schools that meet your top educational/extra-curricular/personal priorities and have different levels of selectivity
Expert Tip: Keep 2 Graded Papers From Junior Year as More and More Colleges Are Requiring These
By starting early, you will be in a great position to develop and execute a successful college admissions strategy with minimal stress and aggravation. I know it seems like a lot to do during junior year but, trust me, you’ll be glad you did!