By Ella Chochrek
What you’ve heard is true: Junior year is a pivotal year in the college planning process.
For one, you’ll want to take your ACT or SAT this year—which means you’ll have to put in some study time. But junior year of high school is about more than just taking your standardized tests. You’ll also want to narrow down your college list, keep up your grades and start visiting schools.
Don’t know where to start? Not to worry! Here’s a short breakdown of what we think you’ll want to do in fall of your junior year to help you prepare for the college admissions process:
Prep for College Entrance Exams
In the fall of your junior year, you should take a practice SAT and ACT to determine which test works best for you. Almost every college takes either test—and does not show preference for one over the other—so choose whichever one makes you most comfortable. Many students choose to take the exam for the first time in spring of junior year, with most taking the SAT/ACT at least twice. Make sure to take some practice exams before the real test, but if you feel comfortable with how you’re performing on practice tests, consider taking the exam in December to get your nerves out of the way.
Create a College List
Maybe you haven’t had the chance to go on college tours yet, but the fall of junior year is a great time to start narrowing down your list. After you take a practice SAT/ACT, you should have an idea of what schools you might be eligible for based on your grades and scores.
In addition to looking at the academic requirements for various schools, also consider what factors you’d like to define your college experience. Factors like location, size, specializations, and so forth. Do you want to take classes where you’ll get to know your professors well? A small liberal arts college might be best for you. Are you hoping to attend a school with tons of spirit? Consider places with strong Division 1 sports teams. Decide what factors are most important to you, and create your list accordingly.
Learn More About Colleges
Be proactive and keep on learning about different college opportunities. Go to college fairs, attend information sessions with college representatives that are held at your school, and visit college nights in your area. Fall of junior year can also be a great time to tour colleges yourself to get a feel of what you’re looking for in a college campus.
Bonus: If you know or have connections to someone who graduated from a college you’re really interested in, ask them if they’ll do an informational interview with you. It’s a great way to feel out the college’s culture.
Keep Up Your Grades/Extracurriculars
While college admissions can be a daunting and time consuming process, SAT/ACT prep cannot get in the way of your other school work. You may be taking challenging courses (like AP) this year, along with busy extracurriculars like the school band or the varsity basketball team. Stick with all of the things you’ve been involved in throughout your high school career so far, and try to keep your grades up—or even improve them. Colleges like to see an upward trend, and junior year is a great time to take on new leadership positions in clubs/sports or to get your grades up from prior years.
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