Make the Most of Your Junior Year

Despite all of the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the senior year, it’s actually the junior year of high school that is the defining moment in most students’ academic lives. Generally, you’ll be sending off college applications well before you’ve completed your senior year, so it’s essential that you do as much as possible in your junior year to make yourself an attractive candidate to colleges. The following are some of the most important things that you can do in your junior year to start preparing for college.

 

Research Colleges
Because of the amount of time and money involved in submitting college applications in your senior year, you’ll want to have your list of colleges more or less set by the start of your final year of high school. Consult a reference like the US News and World Report college issue to get detailed information about schools. Some questions that you’ll want to consider when looking through info on colleges include: Do you want to attend a public state school or a private university? How far away from home would you like to live? How selective of a school would you be able to get into? In order to answer these questions, you’ll need to think seriously about how much money you or your parents can afford to spend on tuition (or how many student loans you’re willing to take out) and you’ll need to evaluate your own academic performance in terms of your GPA and test scores.

Prepare For and Take the SAT
SAT scores are one of the most important elements of a college application and are one of the most common “minimum” criteria that schools use to indicate what they require from applicants before further considering their applications. Thus, it is very much in your interest to prepare for the test as thoroughly as possible. There are a variety of SAT prep courses and methods available, including free online SAT prep. In addition to finding a test prep program, you’ll also want to check online for test dates and registration deadlines to make certain that you stay on track with your schedule. While you should make certain that you leave appropriate time for prep, you should try to take the test during your junior year. The sooner you know your score, the sooner you’ll be able to make informed decisions about which schools to apply to.

Build Up Your Extra-Curriculars
College admissions committees have to look through hundreds or even thousands of applications every year and, while your GPA and test scores are important, having a diverse swath of extra-curricular activities can help set you apart from the crowd. Choosing to join a club or play a sport in your junior year insures that you’ll have an extended affiliation with a group on your application. Generally, this looks much better to an admissions committee than a few activities that appear to have been “tacked on” at the last minute in your senior year.

By setting a few simple goals in your junior year, you can insure that you’re doing everything possible to set yourself up for a successful senior year and a great college career!

 

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