No, your senior year IS NOT the time to begin the college selection process. The college selection process must begin your junior year!!
Your junior year is perhaps the most important year of all for preparing for your academic goals. Not only do you need to concentrate on your grades this year, you also need to meet important deadlines and complete specific college planning tasks as you begin the college selection process.
Perhaps this monthly calendar of college planning details will help keep you organized and remind you of the things that you need to get done during your junior year. If you take this process month by month, it’s all manageable; otherwise, it can be overwhelming.
- Get a good academic start during the second half of high school career! Your GPA and class rank at the end of this year will be very critical determinants in assessing eligibility for admission at many colleges.
- Meet with your counselor to review your courses for this year and check for appropriate rigor.
- Increase your involvement in extracurricular activities both in-school and in the community. Maintain a record of your co-curricular involvement all year.
- Identify sources of college and career information at your school. Two great websites that provide specific information on both careers and post-secondary institutions (colleges and trade schools) are FastWeb Education and College and University. Just submit a request, and they will mail you the information! In addition FastWeb Education also provides you access to their huge scholarship database for free.
- Develop a list of colleges using the college search software at your high school. Also, you can watch free college videos at FreeCollegeVideos.com to get a “feel” for the campus and a behind-the-scenes look at what the college might offer you.
- Check with your counselor about scholarship opportunities. Keep a file of local scholarships, their deadlines, and their requirements so that you will be able to work on scholarship essays ahead of time. Get your FREE Guide to $38 million in Scholarships at Course Advisor. In addition, great places to start searching for scholarships include ScholarshipExperts and FastWeb and FastWeb Education. Each has a huge scholarship database and they will customize your search to fit you. If you haven’t already registered, you should register today at both sites! If you prefer to start easy, find random drawing scholarships that require little more than filling out a simple entry form such as the one found at FreeCollegeScholarships. FreeCollegeScholarships.net offers a monthly drawing for a $10K scholarship to pay your college expenses.
- Sign up for the PSAT which is administered in mid October.
- Take the practice test in the PSAT/NMSQT Student Bulletin.
- Take the PSAT/NMSQT and do well! With a high enough score, you will qualify to receive a National Merit Scholarship or the National Achievement and the National Hispanic Scholars Program. (Remember, take your calculator with you to the test!)
TIP: If you wish to receive publications from various colleges, be sure to indicate your preference on the PSAT for the Student Search Service.
- Attend meetings with college reps who visit your high school.
- Attend college fairs and financial aid/parent nights.
- If you are interested in attending a military academy, start the process now! Meet with your guidance counselor about the special application process.
- Continue to do well in classes. First semester quarter will be ending soon!
- Begin online scholarship searches if you will require financial aid to attend college. Download your free guide for scholarships at Course Advisor and register at FastWeb to start an online search.
- Keep your grades up! Your junior year grades are extremely important in the admissions process because they are a measure of how well you do in advanced courses, and they also serve as eligibility and selection criteria for scholarships–two good reasons why extra academic effort might prove worthwhile in the end!
- Your PSAT/NMSQT Score Report Plus should arrive. Schedule a meeting with your guidance counselor to go over your results.
- Use the PSAT score report as a practice tool for the upcoming SAT reasoning test. It might also be a good idea to take a SAT Test prep course.
- If you plan to take the ACT, register now for the February ACT. Again, you should prep for this test, too.
- Continue to gather college information from schools that interest you. Explore college websites, get on mailing lists, read through catalogues, and contact admission officers to answer questions you might have.
- Organize a file for college brochures, viewbooks, and other related college information that soon will be flooding your mailbox.
- Study for and do well on your semester exams. Remember: Semester grades impact your GPA.
- Meet with your college counselor to go over your preliminary college list to make sure you have schools that fit in 3 tiers of admission selectivity: Reach Schools, Probable Schools, and Safety Schools. Perhaps your counselor will have other colleges that you should consider.
- Register for the March SAT Reasoning Test if you have completed the level of math needed for the test. If not, plan on taking the SAT in May or June.
- Select your senior courses carefully; be sure to continue challenging yourself academically. You need to demonstrate depth and breadth in academics. Don’t plan on slacking off in your senior year! If appropriate, seriously consider taking AP classes. These courses could save you a lot of money when you enroll in college.
- Continue your college search. Write, call, or email college admission offices to request admission material and financial aid information.
- Plan a few college visits during your April break. Call the admission office to arrange a tour, a class visit, and a meeting, even an interview with an admissions officer. If you can’t afford to visit all of the colleges on your list, at least watch a video about the college showing you what really happens on campus at FreeCollegeVideos.com. They have filmed over 2000 colleges, including the Ivy league colleges.
- Register for the April ACT test.
- Register for the May/June SAT Reasoning test and/or the May/June Subject tests.
TIP: Not all Subject test are given on every test date. Check with your teacher to see which type of Subject Test corresponds with the curriculum at your school, especially in the Foreign Language area.
- Take the ACT test.
- Begin visiting colleges during your spring break.
- Take an SAT prep course to help prepare for the upcoming test. If you haven’t already, you might want to take an online course such as Grockit SAT & ACT Test Prep. Many students find their score is increased through simple practice and employing the strategies taught in a class like this.
- After your college visits, evaluate your college list and eliminate colleges that you are no longer interested in.
- Take the SAT Reasoning Test or the SAT Subject Tests.
- If appropriate, take the Advanced Placement (AP) exams which are given in high schools nationally in early May.
- Continue gathering information on local and national scholarships. You may have to begin applying for scholarships awarded to seniors the summer after your junior year.
- Apply for special summer academic or enrichment programs such as a pre-college summer program, an internship in a possible career field, or travel abroad.
- Take the SAT or the Subject Tests if you did not take them last month.
- Do well on your final exams. Your GPA after 6 semesters is used by colleges to determine admission decision.
- Visit colleges, take tours, and have interviews.
- Continue to refine your college list.
- Complete the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse form if you plan to play Division I or II sports.
- If you are an athlete, contact coaches at the schools to which you are applying to get any information you need about their process. Be sure to include an athletic resume in your correspondence with coaches.
Tip! Before submitting your resume, it would be wise to have it professionally reviewed by resume writers such as ResumeEdge so that you are sure it is a perfect product.
- Begin to work on your application; draft college essays; collect writing samples; if needed, assemble portfolios and any other supplementary material needed. Also make sure you compile a general academic resume and have it reviewed professionally. ResumeEdge provides this service at a reasonable cost. Finally, remember to register to take a Test Prep class where you live!
Starting in on the college selection and application process NOW can make the fall semester of your senior year so much less stressful!