THE BLOG
02/01/2016 01:25 pm ET Updated Jan 31, 2017

February Junior College Readiness Tips

This is a busy month for high school juniors. Please help them get ready for college by heeding our tips, so they can move strongly into college application season.

College visits: Tell students to visit colleges during spring vacation and other school days off. Book tours, information sessions, class visits, overnights, interviews, and visits with current students. If they can't leave town, they can visit local colleges as well as attend college fairs and group college presentations.

Testing: Juniors are living in the wild west of testing this year with the new SAT coming out in March and many colleges making both the ACT and SAT essay section option.
  • We recommend every junior prioritize the ACT this year as it is known and the SAT will be delayed in reporting scores. They will get better with ACT timing as their brains develop.
  • No matter what all students should take the writing sections as many top colleges are requiring them.
  • Help students develop their testing schedule. SAT. ACT. SAT Subject Tests, AP tests. They should plan to take each one, except the AP tests, at least two times this spring. Sophomore and juniors should look to see which Subject Tests they could take this spring. While fewer colleges are requiring them, these hour long tests are a great additional tool to help students reveal their academic talents to colleges.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Becoming better at testing requires full length practices. Like athletes and artists, we never go into competition under-prepared. So practice.

College research: Help juniors use the resources around them to research colleges. They can find maps, major finders, online campus tours, and more. There are many online college fairs and workshops in which they can participate.

Social media privacy: Make sure kids make their social media accounts private. More and more colleges claim they are checking with applicants' social media. Why, I have no idea. Applicants should rename their accounts. Their sites should show no information to anyone who is not a friend.

Senior year schedules:
Many schools have juniors pick classes for senior year in February. Make sure kids do not give up core content areas. Kids need a full schedule that is as hard and challenging as possible. Remember, they take placement tests at the end of senior year, so if they do not take a foreign language or math senior year, they could wind up taking more of these classes than intended in college.

Leadership roles: Please make sure you encourage students to take on leadership roles in their activities. Colleges are looking for kids who take initiative and who are leaders. They should look for ways to expand current organizations and lead them in new and creative ways.

Powerful summers: Remember colleges expect students to be as productive as possible during their summers. They can use summers for taking college classes, working, volunteering, doing an internship, studying for the SAT/ACT. There are great programs for all students. Applications are due soon.