Ah, the birds are chirping and the trees are budding. It must be springtime. (Somewhere this has to be true. Certainly not in Boston, where we are located headquartered, but let’s pretend.) You might be wondering what a high school junior could possibly do in late February to prepare for the college admissions process. After all, applications aren’t due until November or December, or even January or February of next year.
Sorry to break the news, but there’s actually a lot that students and parents can be doing right now. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Visit college websites. You know your grades from freshman and sophomore years, and you have a sense of what your junior year final grades will be. This information will be helpful in starting to look at colleges. Should you be considering colleges where most of the freshman class had a 4.0 or 2.7 GPA? Do you know if you want to attend college relatively close to home, or are you okay with a college 2,000 miles away? Visiting colleges online is a great place to start the search.
- Study for standardized tests. Are you taking the SAT in March? Or the ACT in April? Or both? You should start studying for standardized tests, even if you’re not taking one until June. It is possible for you to improve your score with dedication – spend 30 minutes a day, or more, studying and it’ll pay off. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, not a problem – you can find free websites that help you prep, or you can buy a book and take practice tests.
- Join an activity or two if your extracurricular résumé is lacking. It’s not too late to join something (or a couple of things). Colleges don’t need you to have 20 activities on your résumé, and, in fact, don’t want you to have that many. Instead, they want to see that you’ve done a few things for a few years. So, if you find yourself needing to boost your activities profile, it’s not too late to do so.
- Prepare for spring and summer breaks. Now is the time to start planning college visits. Perhaps you can visit a few on spring break? Plan your visits online – sit in on an information session and take a campus tour. It’s smart to look at liberal arts colleges, large public universities, and medium-sized private colleges to get a sense of what you like, and more importantly, what you don’t.
- Study hard! Your junior grades are the last full year that admissions officers see when evaluating your academic potential. You want this year to be your best to date. (And you won’t want to slack off in senior year, either, since admissions officers will see those grades as well.)
The snow will eventually melt, the birds will start chirping and the trees will turn green. And, following our advice, you’ll be ready for the college admissions process.