Junior year: i.e., the year when things get real. Many students coast through freshman and sophomore years of high school, secure in their awareness that college is a long, long way off. But then junior year begins, and reality comes crashing down. If you’re still in the first two years of high school, avoid this reality check by following our checklists for freshmen and sophomores. And if you’re about to enter junior year, don’t panic! Follow our checklist for incoming juniors to ensure a successful year and smooth sailing into the college seas.
Some of the items below reiterate points from the previous lists. Now is not the time to start slacking on the basics!
✓ Keep refining your college list. Hopefully you got a head start sophomore year, but now is when you should begin in earnest. Think hard about what you want most in a school. And seek out college planning services to streamline the whole process.
✓ Get on the road. Once you’ve refined your list, pick your top schools to tour. Make sure to include a range of “reach” and “target” schools. (And keep following the blog in July, when we’ll share our tips for making the most out of college tours.)
✓ Take the test. We recommend that most students take the ACT/SAT between 2 and 4 times. If you’ll be in pre-calc at the beginning of junior year, you should be taking the test during the fall. If you will be in Algebra 2 or below, plan on taking the test for the first time in February. This way, you can retake in April if necessary.
✓ Know what’s coming. Most college applications are due between November 1 and January 1 of senior year. Make sure that you have all test results and required courses lined up appropriately so you can hit the ground running when senior year begins.
✓ Keep on top of academic challenges. As high school progresses, the academic demands increase at the same time that all of this college hullaballoo ramps up. So at the first hint of trouble–say, not quite understanding the AP Chem homework–ask for help! Start with the teacher, but if that isn’t cutting it, begin academic tutoring. Don’t get to the point where grades are falling, because it’s much harder to come back from that.
✓ Don’t stress. This is a tough one because we do think that students need to be working hard and keeping all of the items above in mind. But we also see juniors who are so anxious about college and next steps that they aren’t enjoying this wonderful time of life. We are always happy to talk to students and parents about how to achieve a good balance and reduce stress.
If you follow these checklists for the first three years, you’ll be in great shape when it comes time to apply to college, AND you’ll feel like you made the most of your high school experience. If you have any questions about implementing the checklist for incoming juniors or about challenges you’re facing in any other year, give us a shout. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-216-2222.