As a high school junior, what are the most important things for me to do before senior year?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

As a high school junior, what are the most important things for me to do before senior year?

Bob Bardwell
Director of Guidance & Student Suport Services Monson High School

Get Organized...

The college search process can be complicated and overwhelming. If you approach it in an unorganized and haphazard way, then you are likely to encounter problems. It is essential to find a way to organize your thoughts and the information you obtain (whether it be via mail or the internet). You also have to develop a system to keep track of deadlines and expectations (this could be a spreadsheet or a paper form.) Whatever method you choose makes no difference as long as you are doing something to stay on top of this process and it works for you.

Candy Cushing
Associate Director of College Counseling King Low Heywood Thomas

Don’t let compression get you down!...

Juniors, you’ve quite the race to run between now and next fall – especially if you’d like to begin senior year in strategic decision making mode. Use time wisely: thoroughly research colleges, demonstrate interest with a visit, email, or college fair – interest is important. Refine your list of options: be realistic yet have a dream college or two. Use the summer to write your essay and any requested supplements. No supplement is optional – write it. The Common App goes live August 1st. Complete it. Start your senior year with everything in order for submission.

Carolyn Jacobs
Director of College Guidance Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy

Self Discovery: A First Step...

Before searching for the colleges that fit you the best, take some time to examine your priorities. What is important to you in a college? Do you want large or small, near or far, sports or fraternities, lecture-style or seminar classes? Have you thought of a possible major? What type of school fits you best academically or socially? As you start to prioritize, you will realize what is important to you for researching and visiting schools. Armed with this self awareness, you’ll be all set to go find those perfect colleges!

Carol Morris
Regional Director of Admissions Southern Methodist University

Ask for recommendations early from your eleventh grade teachers!...

If you will require teacher recommendations for admission or scholarship applications, ask (2-3) teachers from junior year classes if they would be willing to write one for you. Make this request in April or May (before school ends) which gives them time over the summer to work on it, while their memories of specific positive actions of yours are fresher. By fall they will have a whole new set of students to deal with as well as being inundated by requests from other seniors. Look for teachers who are proud of you and who seem to understand what makes you tick!

Dale Ford
Counseling Department Chair Singapore American School

Remain happy, successful, and involved...

You can help yourself most by having a successful junior year. Stay happy, keep your grades up, and follow your passions. Do not become so obsessed about the college selection and application process that you forget to live your life as a high school student. While there are some tasks you need to complete - admission tests and requesting recommendations – if you focus on having a great junior year, in addition to being a happier person, you will improve your chances of admission.

David Hamilton
Director of College Advising St. Mary's Ryken High School

18 Month Calendar + Your College Search = Success...

Right now, every high school junior should print out a blank monthly calendar starting with March 2011 and ending with August 2012. What to do with these 18 sheets of paper? Arrange them in chronological order – of course – and tape them to a wall in a high traffic area where everybody in the family has access. Write down important dates (spring break, application deadlines, etc) to serve as a guide on what needs to be done and when. By making the search process visible and breaking it down into smaller components, it becomes more manageable for students and parents alike.

Doris Sarr
Director of Adventures in Math and Science Murray State University

As the old saying goes “Poor preparation will lead to poor performance” ...

Putting together a college budget with your parents during the senior year can help alleviate some of the stress of college preparation. Budgeting early could reveal the possibility of not being able to go to college due to lack of funds. It is important to start putting together a budget of projected college expenses in your junior year based on your top college choices. This will allow you to research affordable colleges and sources of revenue for your education (such as scholarships, financial aid, work-study, or other sources). Your parents should be able to sit down with you and outline how much (if any) they can contribute and offer helpful suggestions on how to make your budget.

Elinor Adler
Founder Elinor Adler College Counseling

Juniors should commit to working hard in their academics...

As the junior year progresses and the college admissions process begins, it is important to remember that a student’s first commitment should continue to be working hard in all their courses. Throughout the college process it is the student’s academic performance which is the most important element in being admitted to college. Also, talk with your guidance counselor, develop a testing schedule and discuss what things you (the student ) have done in and outside of school since starting grade 9. Remember, the guidance counselor is going to be writing your recommendation and knowing you well is the key to being able to highlight your accomplishments.

Enid Arbelo
Editor in Chief NextStepU

You have to know what you want to go for it!...

It’s easy to get excited about summer break and zone out during the last weeks of school, but these are the days that count! So wake up and start planning! Your first step is to research colleges and programs that fit your needs and interests. That’s where a counselor comes into play. Set up a meeting with one and get some guidance picking colleges and majors that seem interesting to you. Once you’ve narrowed down your options you can start applying. Sure the application process can get overwhelming, but if you’ve picked some top schools and majors you’ve already tackled some of the hardest work!

Farron Peatross
Educational Consultant

Important College Planning Activities Your Junior Year...

Discuss with your parents their college ideas for you and finances. If you will need financial aid, remember that the best place for accurate aid information is a college financial aid office, so add that stop to your web browsing and college tour list. Plan your senior year course work with your school or independent counselor to enhance your junior year courses. For example, if you are in the second or third year of a foreign language, plan to take an additional year of the subject. Most important aspect for college acceptance is the quality of your transcript!