We’ve found that the college admissions process is a whole lot less stressful if you plan ahead. Laying out a calendar and “to-do” list is critical to you and/or your student’s success and confidence entering senior fall. We recommend putting together a paper calendar to post on the fridge or somewhere else that is highly visible and/or adding reminders to your phone with alerts.
Here are our suggestions of what you should be taking action on in your junior year. If you’re already a junior, don’t despair! You can catch-up and refer to our senior year calendar.
SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER (Junior Fall)
Meet your Guidance/College Counselor – Building this relationship is key to getting the most out of your college planning process.
Start your College Visits – Open House Programs are available at many colleges and often will be scheduled on Saturdays, weekday holidays and over high school holidays.
The College Search I – Continue to narrow down the number of colleges you will be applying to by visits, as well as more advanced searches. If you are interested in any college, get on mailing list by signing up on-line. If a college representative from a college you are interested in visits your school, be sure to attend the session, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your classes.
PSAT (October) – Be sure to take the PSAT in October. Pay close attention to the deadline date for registering, usually at beginning of September, shortly after the start of the school year. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses the results of the October PSAT to bestow honors and scholarships.
JANUARY – JUNE (Junior Spring)
Schedule Overnight Stays/Optional Interviews – This is a good time to set up an overnight visit at a college you have already visited and you want to know more about. An Optional Interview can also be arranged at time, or in the fall of your Senior Year. If it is available, grab this opportunity.
Look over your College Applications – Gather as many applications as possible in this period, and begin reviewing the information that you will be asked for. If not all the school’s you are applying to will accept the Common Application, make sure to collect any alternate applications. You should have all applications on hand by the start of your senior year.
Register and take the SAT or ACT – Register to take the SAT or ACT as early as you think you are prepared for the examination. Remember that the SAT will be changing in March of 2016, so you should be sure that you have prepared for the new version, if possible. Take it in March if you think you are ready. It will help you to get a sense of what scores you will be presenting to colleges; this information can be helpful in deciding what colleges are realistic for you. You can retake the exam in May or June if you are not planning to take all of your SAT IIs (required by some colleges) in your junior year. Do not have your scores sent to any colleges yet.
Consider your SAT Subject Tests/SAT IIs – Register to take as many SAT subject tests in the spring of your junior year as you are prepared for. Check over your application materials to ascertain required SAT subject test results from the colleges you are interested in. Although you are allowed to take up to three SAT subject tests at one time, it is not advisable. Better to take two at one sitting and a third at another. If you are taking an AP course, take the SAT subject test in that subject in the May or June of your Junior Year.
Plan more College Visits – Plan to visit colleges during your spring vacation. With your PSAT results, and perhaps SAT results from the January test, along with your most up-to-date transcript, you and your counselor should be able to come up with a good list of colleges to visit. Try to include colleges of different sizes, locations, and character. Don’t be too narrow. Visit colleges when they are in session and not on vacation
Create or update your Activities Resume – Bring it up to date, including all the activities, community service, and honors you have participated in or achieved during your junior year.
Identify your recommender and request Recommendations – By June, you should have a list of teachers you plan to ask to write letters of recommendations to support your college application. (Most teachers will want to complete these over the summer). Remember to give them the option to say no, and if some do say no, just move on to the next name. Be sure to choose teachers in two different disciplines: different academic work require different application of concepts, theories, you want colleges to have a good idea of how you function in a variety of fields.
JULY – AUGUST (Summer before Senior Year)
Write your Personal Statement and Supplemental Essays – Use the summer vacation to start working on your applications and essays. Be sure to incorporate anything important or out of the ordinary that has happened to you in the past year. Be sure to use the Do’s and Don’ts list your Essay teacher has given you. This would also be a good summer to get a job.
Research Scholarships – Be on the lookout for scholarships that may be available through your high school Guidance/College Planning Office. Opportunities for scholarships may be available through your parents’ employers.