10 Ways High School Juniors Can Prepare for College
It is never too early to start preparing for college. For juniors in high school, now is a reasonable time to start thinking about college admissions, as this year is when they can really start to engage in active college preparation. Junior year can be a busy time, especially for those who are planning to attend college and it can become easy to feel overwhelmed with so many important things to plan and do. However, parents and students can find ways to work together to keep on track with preparing for college.
Committing to staying organized and proactive can help students make the most of their junior year of high school. A good starting point will be to focus on the skills and activities that they are most interested in, which can help students start imagining what their college journey might be like. Once they have an idea of what their college plans look like, starting with a helpful list is a solid launching point.
Here are 10 ways high school juniors can start to prepare for college:
- Focus on Academics – Academics should be a key focus of junior year. Students can opt to take advanced classes, especially in areas that interest them, but not so much extra work that it becomes too stressful and compromises their GPA. Junior year is the last complete year that colleges may review, so it is important to keep good grades. Stay in touch with your guidance office about your grades and course choices.
- Meet with Counselors – Juniors should build relationships with their teachers and school counselors, as they play a significant role in helping students prepare for college, and especially in their junior and senior years. These relationships will be crucial once it is time to ask for letters of recommendation.
- Talk with Family – Communicating with parents about college plans is vital. Maintaining an open line of communication with family members about college plans and goals is always good and it will help family members support their students through the college application process.
- Develop Good Study Habits – Developing quality organizational skills, time management skills, and excellent note taking skills is important for superb study habits. If juniors refine these skills, they will find it helps them continue to succeed in high school and set themselves up for success in college.
- Participate in Extracurricular Activities – Extracurricular activities can help with college preparation in many ways. Participating in extracurricular activities will show college admissions counselors that you are a well-rounded high school student with a wide variety of interests. Not to mention, these types of activities allow students to explore different areas of interest, potential career paths, build valuable life skills, and they are a wonderful way to get to know other high school students and become involved with the community.
- Explore a Career Path – Juniors should explore possible career paths with their guidance counselor. Career ideas can start from their interests, passions, and areas of strengths. Juniors should also ask counselors about computer-based career and educational guidance systems.
- Research & Visit Colleges – Start researching colleges and universities of interest. Junior year is when students will want to start building a list of potential colleges. Research should include some college tours and discussions with college admissions officers. Attending college fairs is another way to learn about different schools. Many colleges also offer virtual tours and meetings.
- Paying for College – Juniors will need to discuss college finances with their parents to know how much they can contribute towards their college education, keeping in mind that just because a college seems expensive and out of reach to never assume anything. There are several types of financial aid that may allow students to attend a college that seems too expensive otherwise. Colleges often hold financial aid workshops that help students, and their parents learn the basics of financial aid. Juniors should also start researching scholarships online, through local businesses, and with their guidance counselors, as scholarships are a fantastic way to help pay for college.
- Prepare for Tests – If students plan to take standardized tests, they will want to complete one before the end of their junior year. This way if they do not like their score, they will have time to study and retake the test before the applications are due. Two of the most common standardized tests are the SAT and the ACT. If a college requires standardized tests, either of these two tests is likely to be accepted. It is wise to check specific admission requirements at colleges of interest.
- Summer Plans – While it is important for students to do some relaxing during the summer months, it is also a perfect time to do things that could help with the college admissions process. Juniors can check out summer programs, internship opportunities, or volunteer work. These are great activities for students to include in their college application. Grades and test scores play a role in the college admissions decision, but activities can potentially set them apart from other students.
College can seem far off in the future for juniors in high school and their parents, but by spending some time this year on the college planning process it can help down the road with studying for and taking standardized tests, creating a college list, and starting to think about the college application process. If you have any questions or want some guidance on how to start your family college plan, schedule a complimentary consultation with us today!
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