“Must-dos” for high school juniors!

So, for the past month or so I’ve been buried in the senior application schedule along with many of the students I work with.  Now that I have a few moments to reflect on the process, I’m filled with suggestions for JUNIORS.  I know it seems like a long way off and most juniors avoid college planning, but I beg you to consider doing a few things now to make your life easier next fall.

Keep in mind college applications are often due beginning in November to meet scholarship deadlines. Sounds like a really long way off, doesn’t it?  It won’t feel like a lot of time when you suddenly realize that in order to meet that deadline you will need to have at least one, but most likely more than one, essay done.  You will also need to have made arrangements with teachers for letters of recommendation.  Depending on your guidance office, you may need to provide them with a 2-3 week window to process your application and submit transcripts, SSR (Secondary School Report) and more.  Students I am working with have either already applied to one or more colleges or will be in the next week or two.

What is involved in applying to a college or university?  It depends on the school, but here are the most commonly requested items:

*Official high school transcripts

*Official test scores sent directly to the school from College Board or the ACT (Some schools require SAT Subject Tests)

*Common Application Essay

*Why “X University?” Essay

*1 or 2 letters of recommendation from core teachers (math, english, social studies, etc)

*Application completed along with a list of activities/awards or a resume

Before you can get the applications done, you need to know where you plan to apply!  Your junior year is the time to figure that out.  Attend college fairs, college visits from admissions counselors, read that stack of mail you’ve received, talk to your teachers, make some visits!  By the fall of your senior year, your list should be pretty complete.  By making your college list during your junior year, you will better understand the requirements of the schools on your list and have time to complete any outstanding requirements.  One of the most stressful decisions I have seen students have to make is whether they will sit for a college entrance exam to improve their scores or to fulfill a missing requirement OR attend a high stakes athletic competition during their fall sport.  Don’t put yourself in that position.  By making a list your junior year and understanding the application requirements for each of those schools during your junior year can prevent this kind of stress.

This is supposed to be a “must-do” list for juniors, so here goes:

*Your grades are critically important this year-keep them up!

*Visit colleges and compile a list you plan to apply to.

*Get help to determine an appropriate pathway for a major or concentration in college.  (It’s hard to pick a college if you have no idea what you want to study).

*Take all the tests you need for the colleges you are interested in and make sure your scores meet the requirements.

*Continue to build a resume that includes some opportunities for leadership.

*Remember- your junior year teachers are typically the ones you will ask for recommendations from-treat them well and develop good relationships with these teachers!

*Don’t wait until your senior year to get help with this process-call me now and I can develop a custom plan for you.

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