Junior year is the homestretch for students in high school. Critical decisions will need to be made during the winter and spring that could have a major impact on the next five years and long beyond. This year students need to start narrowing their list of colleges and potential academic paths. Expert college advisors at International College Counselors understand that college admissions officers look very closely at junior year grades.
1. Prepare and Take Standardized Tests
Waiting for senior year to take the all important SAT and ACT will cause unneeded stress. By taking the tests now, students also have time to assess their weaknesses and address them by studying. Then they can retake the SAT or ACT in the fall. Fall will be their last chance.
Students are also strongly advised to take the SAT Subject tests in the subjects that they took this year. There are twenty different subject tests and each is designed to measure specific knowledge in a particular academic area. The next tests are May 3 and June 7.
“If students wait until their senior year to take the SAT Subject Tests, they may find they’ve forgotten the material,” said Mandee Heller Adler, founder of International College Counselors.
2. Consider Possible Majors
The best way to start a list of possible college majors is to start with personal interests. These interests can include animals, nutrition, film, medicine, writing or a million more. It may even be a motivating school subject like algebra or literature. Some students find taking free assessment tests online to be helpful. These websites match interests with possible careers. Some high schools offer these tests through the school guidance counselor. The idea here is not to commit to a career path, but to try and narrow down career possibilities. Keep in mind, many students switch their major at least once during college.
3. Research Colleges
Information on different colleges and universities can be gathered in books and on websites. Attend any local college fairs, as well as presentations by traveling college admissions officers. Go on college campus tours, as many as possible. Talk to alumni or current students. Try to look at the whole range of schools: public, private, large, and small. Consider taking a college road tour over spring break. In the late spring, draft an initial college list. Before the start of senior year, a student’s goal is to develop a list of fifteen to twenty colleges of interest. Having an idea of college majors makes the college search easier. However, students can create a list of prospective colleges even if they do not have a major in mind.
4. Search for Scholarships
Research scholarship opportunities and apply to them. There are many scholarships open to students in their junior year. When looking for scholarships, juniors will also discover many scholarships they may want to apply to in their senior year. Students who apply to scholarships need to make sure they proofread everything and meet all deadlines.
5. Plan to Maximize Summer
Colleges like to see that incoming seniors spent the summer in a meaningful way. This could include an internship, job, or college program. Whatever it is, students need to start planning their summer now.
Many competitive and prestigious summer programs are available and these cover hundreds of interests including engineering, journalism, and business. The right programs help students learn and also look great on college applications. Students should also consider attending a summer program at a college of interest. While this does not guarantee admissions, it may help a student confirm interest in the school and make an early decision choice easier.
“Junior year comes with a lot of stress, but with planning and positivity, it can also be a time filled with excitement about the future,” said Adler.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE COUNSELORS:
This year, college advisors at International College Counselors helped more than 300 students find, apply to and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The expert college counselors at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college application process.
For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert college counselor, please visit http://www.internationalcollegecounselors.com.