tips for highschool juniors

Think college admissions is just for high school seniors?  Think again! There are plenty of things you can do now during your junior year to help prepare you for the college admissions process.

Below is a list of things that juniors can start doing this spring to get them ready! 

Keep Your Grades Up!

Yes…that’s right!  Grades matter…and they matter a lot!  The first thing colleges will see when they look at your application are your junior year grades.  Colleges will also look at your cumulative GPA which will have your junior year grades included…so keep working hard.  Finish strongly!

Plan Wisely for Senior Year

Senioritis?  Don’t even think about it!  Colleges look for students’ schedules to have a certain amount of course rigor.  They want to see that you have challenged yourself throughout your HS years…including during senior year!  So, if you are tempted to fill up your schedule with easy electives…don’t. Challenge yourself, but don’t stress yourself out.  Take a healthy balance of challenging courses and fun electives.

Spend Some Time With Your School Counselor

If you haven’t already, make an appointment to meet your school counselor (parents should be at this meeting also).  Spend some time with him/her discussing your college plans, and be sure to ask questions and seek advice. School counselors have a wealth of information to share about the college admissions process! Take advantage of their knowledge and meet a few times this spring and a few times in the fall of your senior year.  Many colleges require a letter of recommendation from your school counselor so getting to know them, and letting them get to know you, is a win-win!

Bring Your Favorite Teacher an Apple

Most teachers teach over 100 students a year.  Many colleges require at least one letter of recommendation from a teacher.  During the second semester junior year you should meet with your favorite teachers, asking them to write a letter of recommendation.  This time frame gives them the summer to write you a stellar letter. Choose at least two teachers that know you and from courses in which you did well.  Meet with your teachers and speak to them in person. Sending an email request is impersonal. An in-person meeting gives you the opportunity to speak to them about your college goals.  Bring them a resume so they can include your outside activities and awards in their letter.

Road Trip

You may already know of a few colleges that interest you.  Take some time this spring and summer and visit a few. Visit the college’s website and sign up for an official tour of the campus.  College admissions counselors often track demonstrated interested and signing up and attending a tour shows that you are interested in learning more about their school and campus.  Check out this website for more information on how to get the most out of your college visit.

Get Writing

The summer between junior and senior year is the perfect time to write your college essays.  Many students will apply to college using the Common Application platform and they publish their essay prompts in March.  Pick one prompt and get going! There are many useful resources available to help you write an essay. School counselors, English teachers and parents are all great resources.  As you write, share your essay with people who know you. Your essay should be in “your voice” and not someone else’s. Colleges use these essays to learn more about who you are as a person.  They want to know more about your dreams and goals.  They want to know what you are passionate about.  The college essay is an opportunity to let the college admissions counselors learn something different about you that they can’t see from the other parts of your college application.  Watch this video for advice about writing your college essay.

Good Luck!

Deena Paradiso, M.S. Ed. is a Certified School Counselor for Grades K-12.