A group of multi-ethnic high school juniors.

High School Juniors: Are You College Ready?

For many students, preparation for college begins in earnest at the start of the year as a high school junior. To help get yourself prepared, here are five tips to get your rising junior on the right track the moment the school year begins.

1. Make a Game Plan

Before anything else, high school juniors need to set time aside to outline a game plan. Begin by asking these five questions:

  1. What AP classes should I take?
  2. What type of academic activities or community service projects will help my application stand out?
  3. What colleges are in my budget?
  4. What do I want out of my college experience?
  5. What type of college environment is best-suited to my learning style?

The answers will help you develop a working plan to take you from a high school junior to a full-fledged college student. This also includes outlining a fair budget (and sticking to it). It’s never too early to have a college plan. The time spent organizing a game plan the first few weeks as a high school junior will more than pay off later.

2. Prep for Standardized Tests

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The dreaded standardized tests don’t have to be feared. College readiness means that everyone has to take the SATs or the ACT in high school. So, why not start getting yourself prepared to tackle these tests as a high school junior?

Senior year can be frenzied with the anticipation of graduating from high school, the thought of leaving your friends and a new adventure on the horizon. The best thing you can do for yourself as a high school junior is to get serious about studying for these college tests now.

Not only will it relieve some of the pressure from your senior year, but you’ll have time to scour sites like Scholarships.com to find scholarships to help pay for your tuition.

3. Hunt For Scholarships

Unfortunately, many students wait until their senior year to look for college scholarships. I do not recommend this strategy. High school juniors need to hunt for scholarships as soon as school begins and continue to do so each year throughout their collegiate life.

While senior year is a prime time to figure out how to fund your college education, searching for scholarships as a high school junior will give you a head start as well as an understanding of the types of college scholarships available. In some cases, you might even find scholarships specifically for high school juniors.

4. Explore Majors And Career Paths

One thing most students don’t realize coming out of high school is that college is all about what direction you want to take. It’s no longer your parent’s or school’s choice; it’s your choice.

The best time to start thinking about potential careers is as a high school junior. Figuring out your career options now gives you time to explore potential jobs and, in the process, help narrow down possible majors and colleges.

One helpful step is to take a career assessment test or talk with your school’s guidance counselor at the beginning of the school year to find out if these tests are offered at your school.

5. Research Colleges

A group of high school juniors touring a college campus.

Another crucial step for high school juniors is creating a list of prospective colleges. Start by researching schools that specialize in majors or subject areas you are considering. If there is a college fair in your area, go! Being able to access so many colleges all in one place is a great way to learn more and connect with college representatives.

As you review each college, make a note of the school’s size, location, educational reputation, student life, housing options and affordability.

Throughout this process, ask yourself:

  • Do I want to live in an urban or rural setting?
  • Do I want smaller class sizes, or do I want a bigger campus?
  • Do I want to be close to home?
  • Does the college’s student life appeal to me?

Doing this step now will help you narrow down the choices to the most realistic options.

Once you have a list of your top schools, schedule a campus tour. Set up appointments with the financial aid office and academic departments, speak with professors and talk to college students on campus to find out about their experiences and see if it’s a good fit.

If you do all of these five steps as a high school junior, you’ll set yourself on a successful path for college readiness, have a less stressful senior year and make a better and more informed choice for your future.

Ask Westface College Planning For Help!

Planning takes the stress out of paying for college. If you need help navigating your college financial plan, ask Westface College Planning to help! Give us a call us at 360-818-7728 or start with our free Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Webinar!

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