Second semester junior year is a critical time to prepare for the college application process that will begin senior year. From test prep to summer plans, every detail matters.
Key factors that should be on every Junior’s mind:
1. Academic Excellence
Every year of high school academic are important. Junior year is no exception but it is the last opportunity students have to prove consistently high marks OR a clear trajectory of growth.
If you had a weaker start in high school but you have shown consistent growth through second semester junior year, college admissions committees will look at your grades favorably. Remember, any progress you make senior year won’t be on your application transcript.
2. Leadership Positions
Colleges want to see a commitment to 2-3 extracurricular activities that you’re really passionate about. Being able to show a leadership positions that has made a difference in your school or community is the best way to prove you will an asset to the college of your choice and will be able to contribute to the school community.
Begin thinking about possible leadership position in your senior year while you are still a junior. Put your name in for captain, start planning your student council campaign, talk to your coach or teacher about how you can contribute more to the team.
3. Summer Plans
A productive and fulfilling summer is just as important as the school year for your college application. Options can include work, volunteering, travel, or study. To have the best opportunities available, start planning for them before spring break of your junior year. Most summer programs have application processes that will need to be completed before March.
4. Test Prep
Summer is a time when most students do not have the structure of a daily schedule. Summer before junior year is the best time to prepare for standardized college, or, if you have completed your junior year, it is the best time to conclude test prep so you can take official tests in the early fall.
Meeting with a tutor more frequently during the summer months and adding more practice will help you reach your score goals.
And don’t forget to check exam dates and make sure you register for the right ones.
5. Identify your Recommenders
Start thinking about who will write your letters of recommendation. Before you leave for the summer, ask your teachers if they will write your recommendation.
a) It is more courteous to ask for the recommendation (unless she has already agreed to write it, then begin your letter by confirming her offer).
b) Include a list of your accomplishments from freshman year to present. Don’t forget to highlight any leadership positions and include non-school related activities. (This is an excellent motivation to write a resume).
c) Be direct and ask for a strong, stellar, outstanding… whatever word you choose… recommendation.
d) Provide a time line for a response and a date for the completed recommendation.
e) Close your request with a thank you and.
6. Narrow your College List
By the end of second semester junior year, you’ll want to have a preliminary list of colleges you want to apply to. Start the research. Know your “competitive tiers” – the schools that would be your target, reach, and safety schools.
7. College Visits
Use spring break to visit colleges while they’re in session. While it is nice to visit schools on your list, also take the schools with a variety of factors – urban vs. rural, big vs. small, public vs. private, etc. Information that includes a wide range of factors regarding schools and campuses will be helpful to inform your final choice.
8. Get Organized
There’s a lot to keep track of in the college admissions process. Standardized test registration dates, early decision and regular decision application deadlines, dates to get your transcripts and your letters of recommendation – start adding these to your calendar NOW and review dates regularly during your senior year.