Charting Your Plan Planning for College

Juniors’ To-do List For College

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Juniors, you might think the worry and work of applying to college starts next year, but you would be wrong.  They start long before that!

Actually, the junior year is very important in the college application process for three reasons.

Gathering information – You need information now about financial aid and scholarships.  Your should also know about testing, and you should research the colleges you might apply to.

  • There is a lot to know about the FAFSA, the application for financial aid.  There are questions about filling out the form, strategies for filling out the form, and deadlines you must be aware of.  Also, scholarships are available for juniors for college, and the number of scholarships out there take time to search through to find the ones YOU are eligible for.
  • Signing up for SATs or ACts is important as well as doing the proper preparation.  Planning for retaking tests to raise scores is important.
  • You need to start studying colleges for selection.  Know about colleges to see which fit for you, but also you need to undestand what each requires for their application.  During your senior year you need the time for filling out applications and not waste it looking for colleges.

There are other reasons for being on your toes your junior year in preparation for the college hunt.  

 

  • Use your junior to built up your academic accomplishments.  Keep your grades high as they will be the first to appear on your early applications.  You should use this time to involve yourself in academic research and/or projects that will look good on your resume.  You also need to plan a selection of challenging courses for your senior year and not slack off.  Along with the academics, you should also be enhancing your extracurricular activities.
  • Think of your junior year as a time to get started to avoid last minute stress your senior year.  You should be able to enjoy your senior year, which you can not if you are too busy doing college applications on the fly.  Leave time your senior year to concentrate on the final things like your college application essay, college interviews, teacher recommendations, and finalizing your applications to perfection.
  • In that vein, juniors should start their high school resumes.  The resume shows everything you have done in your high school career.  It takes time to sit down and remember to list all things of importance like activities, awards, work, community involvement, etc.  You also have to describe each entry and indicate the amount of time you have given to each.
  • You should also be planning that summer before your senior year.  You will want to look at summer workshops, opportunities, travel, and course work for the best match to showcase your talents and interests.  You will need to then apply for acceptance to these programs.
  • You should also take time now to get organized for the busyness of the college application push.  First, be sure to set up a special email account for communicating with colleges and receiving information about colleges. This way you will have everything together and won’t lose important things in your daily email.  (Hint: Be sure to use an appropriate user name.) Finally, create a folder where you can pocket all the information you will need to deal with: college requirements for each college, deadlines, notes about your college visits, contact information with admissions officers, and passwords for registries at each college.
  • Juniors should take the PSAT and the SAT and the ACT.  Do this to judge the tests, take extra preparation for the rests if you need it, getting familiar with the tests and leaving extra time your senior year for retaking the tests if need be.  You should also be choosing the right Subject Tests to take, and take them after your have taken the coursework in a timely way, not too late.
  • A very important thing to do as a junior is to meet with your guidance counselor.  He or she will be an asset to you throughout this process, and you should be on a friendly basis.  You should also be checking before you become a senior that you have all the course work and requirements for graduation as well as making sure that everything is correct on your transcript.  Counselors can also give you ideas about what colleges might match your needs and how you can begin to help both the counselor and other teachers write well-informed recommendations.  Use your counselor from the beginning as your right-hand person.

The is so much today that is involved in applying to college because of competition and also because of the number of choices you have to make.  If you do not get started early, everything will mount up and you may even fall behind and not have choices.  It is best to start early, well-informed, and focused.