Juniors -- before this year gets too crazy, take some time to reflect on the year ahead, and what you can do now to prepare for the college application process. Our October checklist for juniors will help you stay focused, and keep you on track to have a successful college application process.
Find out your Social Security Number. Your parents should have this on file and you’ll be using it a lot come test registration and college application time.
Attend a local college fair. Your school may sponsor a college fair, or go to www.nacacnet.org to find a local fair sponsored by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Or you can check out our earlier blog post about finding a college fair near you. Remember, in junior year college fairs are to give you a sense of what’s out there. You should try to remain open-minded and flexible.
Don’t feel pressured to start thinking about specific colleges. If there are specific colleges that appeal to you, or if you feel ready to start looking, go for it. But you don’t need to know the specific colleges that will be on your list, and you don’t need to have any favorites just yet. Really take the time to get to know yourself and the schools you’re considering. Over the next few months, a list will ideally be developing, and any visits you take in the spring or even in the winter will help clarify things that may seem confusing at first.
Begin preparing for the SAT and ACT. You may have recently taken the PSAT at your high school. Or perhaps you’ve taken the PLAN test. These are both excellent practice, but it’s time to start thinking about test prep for the SAT and ACT. Many students take the SAT or ACT for the first time in the winter or spring of junior year. Both the College Board and the ACT have test prep materials on their websites, including full-length practice tests. Many students benefit from tutoring, either individual or group-based. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to pick a tutoring option that suits your learning style and your personality. Get a sense if a tutor’s approach is more conceptual or more strategy-oriented, and think about how you tend to think and what makes the most sense to you.
Look into SAT Subject Tests. When you’re applying to college next year, you may need to submit SAT Subject Test scores. Subject Tests are designed to test your knowledge of particular subject areas; AP classes (and a limited number of honors courses) are the best preparation. Take a look at the subject Test offerings and see if any of your courses this year match up. If you’re in an AP class in a subject area that also is offered as a Subject Test, plan to take the Subject Test in May, to coincide with the studying you’ll be doing for your AP exam. To know if Subject Tests are something you need to keep in mind, look at the standardized testing requirements for schools of interest to you.
Focus on your school work and activities! At this stage, you should be focusing on keeping your grades up and pursuing your interests outside of school. College applications may seem like they’re just around the corner, but what you do this year is the foundation of your applications next year. So it’s important to stay grounded, and to be engaged in the present! This is the year to really show that you can keep your grades strong, and that you can be an involved member of your school community.