It’s finally the spring semester of junior year. What does that mean for your college ambitions?
Junior year is arguably the most important for a high schooler looking at attending college, and second semester ushers in a new phase. To make the most of it, get thoughtful on some key areas to evaluate, improve and act on.
Junior year is the last complete year of grades for colleges to look at as they consider admission. If your grades have been mediocre, now is the most important time to improve them. This is also the time to make sure you are taking the most challenging courses you can handle. If you’re struggling and aren’t sure how to catch up academically, sit down with your teachers, a college advisor, or a tutor to discuss your options.
If you don’t have a leadership position to put on your college applications, now’s the time to find one. Because you’re going to be busy with classes, projects, test prep and more, this is also a time to eliminate activities that you aren’t passionate about. Those activities take up valuable time and don’t reflect who you really are. Instead, exchange them for an internship connected to your dream major, a more involved role in an activity you care deeply about, or some volunteer work for a cause you can truly affect.
You likely already have a list of colleges you’re considering applying to, but now is the time to start narrowing it down. Look at the academics, the campus culture, the location, and the admission requirements. Take off schools that are too much of a reach or schools that you really feel you wouldn’t be happy attending. You can attend college fairs or visit campuses to learn more. By fall of senior year, you’ll be knee-deep in school and application work, so weed through your list with that in mind.
Hopefully, you’ve already been studying, because it’s time to take the standardized tests. Take practice tests to determine if you should take the ACT, SAT, or both, and schedule your test date. Make studying a habit and identify your weak spots and work on improvement in those areas. You can also consider hiring an SAT/ACT tutor to help.
Now is an excellent time to start looking at scholarships. You’ll find opportunities with a wide variety of entry requirements, such as projects, volunteer work, videos, and essays, so it’s best to look early so you can plan your approach to scholarship applications.
Connect for Recommendations
You don’t need to ask for recommendation letters quite yet, but consider who you’ll be asking, and make sure they know you. It’s time to build those relationships! Remember to look for teachers, counselors, or others who have seen your work ethic, who know you well, and are sure to write favorable letters.
Plan Your Summer
During the spring semester, plan your summer. Look for jobs or internships that will build your college applications, put together portfolios and brag sheets, and plan your fall class schedule so that you can get a head start over the summer. If you have a clear plan by the last day of the semester, you’ll start the summer in good shape!