With sophomore year coming to an end, you might be anxiously awaiting the start of your junior year. This is often the most academically challenging year of high school, and it can be made even more stressful as the college application process draws near. However, by planning ahead, you can feel confident and prepared at the conclusion of junior year. Here are some aspects of the college planning process that you should be thinking about:

  • Get to know your teachers: Your junior year teachers are the ones who will likely be writing your letters of recommendation, so it is important that you make an effort to get to know them as soon as possible. Remember that colleges often like to see letters of recommendation relating to your academic area of interest. If you’re a budding engineer, get to know your math and science teachers. If you are a future journalist, be sure to discuss those goals with your English teacher.
  • Build a preliminary school list: If you haven’t already, junior year is the time to begin researching colleges. Take advantage of opportunities your school provides to meet with admissions representatives through visits during the school day or evening college fairs. By the end of junior year, you should have a list of approximately one to two “safety” schools, four to six “target” schools, and one to two “reach” schools.
  • Begin standardized testing: Now that standardized testing has been made optional at many universities, you might be wondering if you should still take them or not. The answer will vary based on the schools you are planning on applying to and your access to testing locations. We recommend that you still take standardized exams, even if they won’t be required by the time you apply.
  • Schedule campus visits – in-person or virtually: Winter and Spring break of your junior year are perfect times to visit some of the universities on your list. Many universities will still not allow visitors on campus, so be sure to look into virtual options.

Junior year can be an exciting time in the college application process, but it’s important to start planning now.

About the author
Kyle Cortley

Kyle received a BS from Vanderbilt University and a certificate in college advising from Columbia University. Kyle has more than five years of admissions experience, including at the State University of New York as well as Rice University, where she was an Assistant Director of Admissions and oversaw the BS/MD program with Baylor College of Medicine. Kyle manages a caseload of clients as well as a team of AcceptU counselors. She is an IECA Associate Member.

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