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As a freshman in high school, you were excited to be at a new school with new responsibilities, teachers, classes and sports. As a sophomore, you grew, studied hard and enhanced your skills in athletics, community service and classwork. Now you are a junior, and the idea of life at college has crept into your mind, and it is a very attainable dream. It’s time to get to work to make that dream a reality! Here are five actionable items that you can do as a junior to make your college search as smooth and successful as possible:

  • Focus in on academic interests. As a junior, your classes should become a bit more challenging and work-intensive. This may seem tedious, but will help in the long-run to better prepare you for your college level coursework. More Honors and AP classes means more hours spent studying, but it will pay off with potential college credit, look great on your applications and help your weighted GPA!
  • Make impactful relationships with your teachers. Staying after school for extra-help with your teachers is a great way to expand your knowledge on a subject and get to know your teachers better. Strengthening these relationships will make it much easier for you to ask and receive wonderful letters of recommendation from teachers who know you and your interests.
  • Start a preliminary college list. Junior year is the right time to get ahead and begin researching colleges. You will have more time to visit each college (even if just virtually for the time being), will be able to commit more time to each application and likely be less stressed out during the process. One to two “safety” schools, three to four “target” schools and an equal number of “reach” schools, are recommended. Applying to schools while balancing all of your other responsibilities in your senior year can get very hectic, so it is important to get ahead of the curve.
  • Make a plan for standardized tests. Although many schools have gone test-optional as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend taking these exams if you are able. Some highly-selective colleges will still require SAT Subject Tests, so be sure to do your research and plan ahead. The extra time spent at home can afford you extra time to study.
  • Become a leader in your activities. Hopefully by now you have narrowed down your activities to two or three core interests. Now it’s time to take them to the next level and hold leadership positions. If you have been on the volleyball team throughout high school, perhaps now you should go out for captain. Or perhaps you are in student government, can you run for a higher-powered position? Consider your responsibilities and impact – colleges like to see an upward progression.

The college application process can be a burden, but it can also be extraordinarily exciting! Taking the time to plan ahead and have a strategy in place can make all the difference. As always, our counselors are here to guide you through this important year.

About the author
Amanda San Román

Amanda earned a BA in rhetoric from Bates College, where she was a Senior Admissions Fellow, responsible for interviewing applicants and leading information sessions. She continues to conduct alumni interviews both in-person and virtually. Amanda manages communication and partnership efforts for AcceptU by facilitating webinars, events, email marketing and technology management.

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