Do you wonder what all the buzz around junior year is about? Well, truth is that college admissions officers seem most interested in that year. This is the time to shine!
While keeping a balance in your life, take the most Honors, AP/IB classes and get the best grades you can. Go the extra mile and astound your teachers with the quality of your work. And while you're at it, look for ways to make significant contributions in your extracurricular activities, including sports.
In addition to those general suggestions, here is what to think about and do during the months of January through June, junior year:
Activities and Activities Resume
Take stock of how you are spending your time in and out of school. Is there anything you want to add or eliminate from your schedule? Make sure that everything you do is either something you enjoy and/or significantly adds to your admissions credentials. January of 11th grade is a good time to begin putting together an activities resume, a document in which you organize on paper everything you do in and out of school.
Check to see when the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) and other college fairs are being held in your town or area. Mark your calendar with the date so that you can attend.
If you haven't already, put together a preliminary college list.
Make plans to visit colleges during Spring Break or early summer.
Always take subject tests for your AP/IB courses if you think you will get a score of 3 or above. Because subject tests are offered in May and June, the time when you take AP/IB tests, you will never be as well prepared for them as then.
If you don't have a social security number, this is a good time to apply for one. You will need one for most college applications.
Financing College and Parents
If you haven't started learning about the financial aspects of college admissions, now is a good time to get started. Lynn O'Shaughnessy's The College Solution book and website are excellent places to start. Also take a look at Frank Palmasani's Right College, Right Price.
Update (or put together) draft of your activities resume.
Begin emailing, calling or writing colleges for information about their schools. Also ask for the name and email address of the college representative assigned to your high school.
High School Counselors
Meet with your school counselor to have him/her evaluate your college list. Ask for suggestions of other colleges.
Begin thinking about what you want to do this coming summer; colleges pay particular attention what applicants do the summer before senior year.
If you haven't already, make arrangements to get admissions test tutoring through your school, online, with a testing program or private tutor. Also check to see if your local library offers test-tutoring programs.
Refine the list of colleges in which you are interested; start reading about them in the various college guidebooks, including The Fiske Guideand Colleges That Change Lives.
Use Spring Break as a time to visit colleges.
Remember that junior year grades are very important, especially those from Spring semester. Prepare for and study hard for regular, mid-term and final exams. Good to excellent grades are what college admissions people look for.
Make sure that you are signed up for AP tests that are given at your school in May. Check in with the school AP coordinator or your AP teachers to make sure your school is offering them and whether/how to register for them.
Continue exploring and narrowing down your college list.
Consult with your high school counselor about your senior year courses.
Actively pursue your summer activities, whether a job, a special academic or enrichment program at a college, a trip or volunteer activity. Most importantly, do what you love.
If you haven't already, sign up for the SAT, subject tests and/or ACT so that you can finish up your testing by June.
Begin collecting personal stories that you can use for your college application essays. Students, parents and family members can begin remembering anecdotes, apocryphal stories, and the like at family dinners or long car rides. Someone should write these down for use in the essay writing process.
Ask favorite teachers if they will fill out the teacher evaluation form for your college applications.
Carefully choose your senior classes, taking into consideration the rigor of the program and balance in your life. Your goal should be to put together as rigorous as an academic schedule as you can without going overboard.
Finalize your summer plans.
Take the AP test for any AP class in which you are enrolled, following by the respective subject test.
Finalize your activities resume.
Classes and Grades
Ace your finals!
Narrow down your college list to the 10-20 colleges you like best. Arrange them into Reach, Good Chance and Pretty Sure categories (based on your SAT/ACT scores compared to successful applicants at the colleges.)
Consult with your parents about setting up a schedule to visit colleges during the summer. Identify dates; call for interview appointments; research travel arrangements.
If you now use AOL or Hotmail, change to Yahoo, Gmail, or cable accounts that work better with college online applications.
Make sure your computer has the most recent version of Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer so that you can make full use of online applications.
For PC users, the operating systems and browsers that are usually supported by online applications are PC Windows XP/Vista/7, Internet Explorer 6 or higher and Firefox 3 or higher.
For MAC users, the operating systems and browsers usually supported by online applications are MAC OS X Tiger, Leopard/Snow Leopard/Mountain Lion, Safari 3.1 or higher and Firefox 3 or higher.
Have a great Spring semester!
Follow Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/admissposs