10 things Juniors can do to get ready for college

(1) Create a big-picture calendar of the year, noting specifically: standardized test dates, major academic tests, extracurricular activities, important personal/family events.

(2) Take a practice SAT or ACT test early in the year. This will help you choose which exam (SAT v. ACT) you want to take and when; it’ll also give you a wake-up call to prepare!

(3) Schedule at least 1 month of meaningful test prep before test day. Make sure you drill problem areas and practice taking the test in a proctored test-taking environment.

(4) Discuss course selection with your academic advisor. Selective colleges have detailed files on high schools’ course offerings. Strong applicants wisely choose challenging upper-division courses.

(5) Choose your extracurricular leadership carefully. Quality, not quantity. Leadership, not participation, is what colleges want.

(6) Set up an individual appointment with your school’s college counselor on your own initiative. Don’t just discuss colleges – discuss other important factors, such as selecting courses and teacher references.

(7) Focus on your grades. Junior year has a huge impact on your GPA.  Colleges like to see your grades continue to improve as you take more challenging classes throughout high school.  Make sure you allocate enough time to study, and seek out tutoring or a study group if you need some extra help preparing for an exam or with writing a major paper.

(8) Attend college fairs at your high school. Remember, colleges need to convince you to pick them, not just the other way around. Use these visits to ask more specific questions and narrow your choices.

(9) Plan your college visits. My best piece of advice as an admissions interviewer was always this: apply only where you envision yourself happy. Check out the student union, sit in on a class and get a feel for the environment. See if you can envision being there for 4 years.

(10) Don’t leave major assignments until the last minute. Habits – good or bad – stick with us for a lifetime. College is all about major assignments (papers, midterms, finals) – so junior year is an ideal time to make proper planning a good habit!

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