College-bound high school juniors have a full plate of activities not only at school but throughout the rest of their lives, too.
Not surprisingly, I often hear from my juniors how tough it is. Junior year is a particularly challenging time because the course load may be more demanding. Often, this is when the stress of college is more piercing, too.
Sometimes, juniors might even avoid the college conversation altogether. But the delay will only make it harder in the fall of senior year.
Must-dos for college-bound juniors.
To help you manage stress and ensure your future success, here are 10 must-dos for every college-bound junior:
- Know why you want to go to college. This is the most important question to ask yourself before doing anything college-related! Your “why” will help you determine the right school, program, and path to getting where you want to be.
- Take challenging courses. Even if you think your grade may be lower, taking a harder class will show college admissions officers that you push yourself.
- Read for pleasure. Yes—reading IS fun! If you have a lot of homework, you can read during holiday breaks. Reading for pleasure is the best way to improve your test scores and write better essays.
Do you need a little help proving to your child just how fun reading can be? Here are 5 tips to help them learn to love reading!
- Research colleges. It’s easy to assume that you know all you need to know about a college. The truth is, not doing research will shortchange you. It can lead to a wrong college choice and you could pay more for college than you need to. Real research is reviewing the website in detail and being able to discuss why you’re interested in a college (beyond location and appearance).
- Plan several campus visits. Many colleges offer special junior preview visits. Take advantage of those opportunities as a way to see dorms, learn about the admissions process, meet students, and learn if you can see yourself there.
Campus visits don’t have to be a dreadful experience. Here are my 5 top tips for a stress-free campus visit.
- Know your financial situation. Will you need to apply for scholarships or financial aid? It’s not too early to talk with your parents about the financial considerations for college.
- Get to know teachers. It’s likely that your junior year teachers may write your college recommendations. Start as soon as you can getting to know your teachers and letting them get to know you. Here’s how college-bound juniors can get best teacher recommendations before their first college application
- Set a summer goal. Do you want to learn more about an academic subject? Start a business? Get a job? Do a language immersion? Do community service? There are so many summer opportunities and programs for rising seniors. Achieving your summer goal will give you experience that will help you in your college search and writing essays.
- Take SAT or ACT, but not both. All colleges will accept either test so determine which test is best for you and stick with it. Plan your test dates so that you can take a second test before senior year, if necessary.
- Know yourself. What makes you special? What are your weaknesses? Who are you really? Do some deep self-reflection, journal, or take an assessment to answer these questions. Focusing on these aspects now will help your future application stand out and allow time to correct past mistakes.
Are you struggling to find the right college? Sign up for my FREE upcoming master class!
Juniors can make this year their best year of high school by checking off this list in the months to come. Which of these items do you feel is the hardest to get done?
If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you get into (or pay for) college, click here for help.
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This article was originally published on September 14, 2015, and has been republished.