Junior year is the perfect time to start the college admission process. Researching schools, attending virtual and in-person visits, and understanding admission requirements will make life much easier for you senior year. Here is a list of what you should be doing and when to help you prepare for the college admission process.
Fall of Junior Year (August through November)
- Search for colleges using a search engine like Naviance, Scoir, Cappex, Collegeboard.org.
- Then explore each school using that school’s website. Understand each school’s admissions requirements. Are you taking the right classes? Maybe you will need physics, pre-calculus or language senior year but weren’t planning to take it. Checking junior year is helpful as you can still make changes to your junior spring schedule and senior year.
- Read the emails and brochures being sent to you–they may include an invitation to a special program.
- Visit a mix of colleges-public, private, suburban, urban, rural, small and large to see what you like. Open Houses or Information Sessions and a campus tours are an easy way to learn about a school. If you can’t visit in person try a virtual visit (check the admissions website and the visit options to learn what is available).
- Take the PSAT or Pre-ACT (your school will register you). You can prep for the PSAT on Khan Academy/Collegeboard. Many schools are now test-optional but having your score will help you understand what type of school to apply and also if you need to do more prep before you take the real SAT.
- Begin searching for scholarships on search engines mentioned above as well as fastweb.com, scholarships.com, scholarships360.com and with your school counseling office.
- Take a career assessment if you have no idea what you want to do (the search engines in the first bullet have them as well as your school counseling office).
- Register with the NCAA and NAIA if you plan to play college sports.
- Study and keep up your grades-if you apply in the fall of senior year most schools will only see up to your junior year grades. Junior year is very important.
Winter of Junior Year (November through February)
- Continue refining your list–which schools interested you when you visited their website or their campuses, what majors are offered at those schools, what is required to apply?
- Do some preparation for the SAT/ACT. There are many free resources online as well as books or even courses. Do some practice to understand what each section contains (so you don’t have to read the directions the day of and save yourself time for questions), the type of questions asked and how it is scored.
- Create an account at commonapp.org. Many schools have you apply for admission through the common application. Start getting familiar with how to add schools, look at their requirements, and essay questions.
- Continue to search for scholarships.
- Continue to keep up your grades.
Spring of Junior Year (March through May)
- Take the SAT (Indiana students will take it in school in March/April as it is now the graduation exam replacing ISTEP, but always good to check with your high school).
- Visit schools in person–many will have spring open houses or programs designed for high school juniors.
- Ask teachers to write a recommendation letter. You can send them a common application link. Giving your teachers plenty of time to write the recommendation will result in a better one. Waiting until fall when others have asked them might mean they say no or have to rush it.
- Start compiling a list of your high school activities, leadership, volunteer hours, work experience and awards to list on applications.
- Continue understanding admission requirements and whether or not you will be admissible to certain schools. Every school has to publish their admissions stats and report them to the federal government. If you are on a school website you can google common data set. But its not very user-friendly. College Board has similar info in their search feature under the applying tab (but they are redesigning their website so this might change). If your school uses Naviance, the scattergram showing the stats from your school’s admitted students is helpful.
- Keep up those grades!
- If you aren’t happy with your March SAT score, keep doing prep and schedule to retake it in June or August. Or try the ACT. It tests different info and you may perform better.
- Keep searching for scholarships.
Summer is the time to finalize where you will be applying through more visits and online research. Its also a great time to start on essays. Most applications will open August first and have priority deadlines around November 1. Using your summer to get ahead will make fall a lot less stressful.
Coffman-Consulting is happy to help you identify the right schools for you, brainstorm essay topics and review your work, practice interviewing, search for scholarships and provide guidance on application strategy (early decision, early action, regular admission) and on application completion. Often students and parents don’t even know where to begin or what schools might be a good choice. We can help refine that list with you.