Starting the junior year process early is important to help alleviate as much of the stress as possible. Most people know that the junior year of high school and certainly it is likely to be an academically challenging year. The college search does not need to be stressful. Or, if your child chooses another option besides college, being organized will help either process go more smoothly.
Planning on college? If so, your child’s goal this year should be to finish the school year with an almost fully complete list of colleges where they plan to apply. Do you need help with getting prepared? Are you ready for your junior year? The Freedom of Choice School Counselor can help! Check out our Junior Academic Planning Packages here. We can help plan the junior year and be prepared for the next!
Here are the things that need to get accomplished throughout the year: Do you need help? Your Freedom of Choice School Counselor can walk you through the process. Check out our services here.
1. TAKE THE PSAT
This is great practice for the SAT. Did you know, a very strong score on the PSAT in October of Junior year could lead to becoming a National Merit finalist? Parents often look at the relatively small amount of money attached to National Merit scholarships and feel that it’s not a big deal. However, what makes it a big deal is not THAT money, it’s that colleges often award major scholarships of their own to National Merit winners. And in many cases, those scholarships are the full cost of tuition and sometimes room and board are covered too. And colleges also love to brag about their number of National Merit scholars on campus in their marketing materials. It makes your student desirable!
2. TAKE THE ACT AND SAT
We strongly recommend that students take these at least once by late winter or early spring of their junior year. This gives time for re-taking it in the late spring. Remember, the early fall of your student's senior year is the last time to take the test if they need to. Having a score prior to the senior year makes it much easier to know what colleges your students should be considering. Or, it may help you to make the decision about whether students should apply colleges without submitting scores, if it appears that their score is not an accurate representation of their academic skills. And it prevents extra stress about taking this test during the senior year at the same time they are applying to college.
3. GET SERIOUS ABOUT THE COLLEGE SEARCH
Visit a variety of sizes of schools in a variety of locations (urban, rural, suburban). GPAs and test scores will help determine the list of places to see. If you can’t visit in person, watch a virtual tour. If possible, try to seek out representatives at a college fair to discuss the college with them.
4. THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT THE SENIOR YEAR SCHEDULE
Recognize that students will be busy with college applications in the fall, in addition to their coursework. And then, recognize that by second semester, senioritis, with its accompanying lack of motivation, may set in. Help your child to choose challenging courses, but bear those two things in mind. On the flip side, don’t allow your child to fill their schedule with irrelevant classes. Colleges WILL look at what classes they are taking and they do want to see increasing academic rigor as part of the momentum toward college.
5. SEEK EXTRACURRICULAR LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
At application time, students might be asked to compile a list of extracurricular activities that they have been involved with during high school. This will depend on the type of college in which they are applying to. Hopefully, by their junior year, they have an activity or sport that they are committed to and that most importantly, they enjoy. This is the perfect time for them to show initiative by seeking out leadership opportunities within that activity. Your school counselor can help create a list and discuss with you and your student what the college admission advisors will be looking for.
6. ASK FOR SCHOOL COUNSELOR AND TEACHER RECOMMENDATIONS
Toward the end of the school year, students should know who they would like to ask to write letters of recommendation for them for their college applications. Make sure whoever is being asked that the student give a few weeks in advance notice! It’s important to remember in the junior year, and throughout high school, that there is more to the application process than just test scores and GPAs. If your student accomplishes all of the above, then they will be in good shape as they head into their senior year.
Need help with getting prepared as a junior? Are you ready for your senior year? The Freedom of Choice School Counselor can help! Check out our Junior Academic Planning Packages here. We can help plan the junior year and be prepared for the next!