08/26/2014 01:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Overachiever's Guide to Junior Year


For nearly two decades, I've been committed to preparing the most inspiring and motivated college students for graduate/professional school, influential careers and lifelong achievement.

I have learned that my very best students were focused, driven and disciplined enough to follow these key steps-to-success during their junior year:

1. Manage your time. Thinking must-do, should-do or could-do will not only help you schedule your priorities, but also control your 168 hours per week.

2. Study individually and in a group for 30 to 45 hours a week in an effort to graduate with a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or above.

3. Take care of your health and wellness -- no excuses.

4. Meet once a semester with your academic advisor to select your classes and to track your progress toward degree completion.

5. Leave a good impression by dressing business casual for your first week of classes and sitting in the front of the classroom.

6. Introduce yourself to your professors within the first two weeks of classes. Don't forget to meet with them again mid-semester to discuss performance and hear suggestions for improvement.

7. Identify a second faculty mentor for research. Meet at least once a semester with both of your faculty mentors to explore research opportunities, including paid summer experiences. Also, if you plan on applying to graduate school next year or medical school in May, you should use one of these meetings to request letters of recommendation.

8. Present your undergraduate research at a conference, fair or poster competition. This is especially important if you are considering a career in health, science, technology, engineering or architecture.

9. Get a part-time job or internship to enhance your professional knowledge, skills and abilities.

10. Live on a budget and learn more about personal finance.

11. Update your LinkedIn profile and connect with family, friends, students, faculty, staff, alumni and co-workers.

12. Meet once a semester with your career advisor to accomplish related goals.

13. Look for a summer internship at the career fair, then connect with recruiters on LinkedIn.

14. Join honor societies and professional associations to support your academic and career goals. Moreover, attend their statewide, regional and/or national conferences to expand your network of higher-level thinkers and leaders.

15. Learn how to code.

16. Meet individually with your associate dean and department chair over lunch to share how they can support your academic and career goals.

17. Run for president of a student group. Also, meet once a semester with your student government president to discuss student involvement and concerns.

18. Find an alumni mentor and meet once a semester for advice and assistance in achieving academic, personal and career goals.

19. Add a new suit and a new pair of shoes to your wardrobe.

20. Exchange business cards with influencers at least three times a week, and remember to connect with them on LinkedIn. Stay abreast of current events and best practices, one way or another, as they might come up in networking conversation.

21. Unplug from mobile devices and social media for 12 hours a day.

22. Tour at least three graduate and/or professional schools, meeting with students, faculty, and career counselors. Moreover, please don't forget to ask the admissions staff for advice on writing a personal statement.

23. Research scholarships and fellowships for graduate and/or professional school.

24. Begin self-directed graduate/professional school standardized test preparation. If you're pre-med, start here.

25. Prepare for your senior year!

I genuinely hope this list helps you do more, do well and do good. It is by no means exhaustive and bound to be missing some best practices. Please feel free to add your great advice to the comments section below.

I look forward to reading your suggestions and connecting with you on LinkedIn.