College might seem far off, but if you’re a high school junior, it’s right around the corner. Unfortunately many students wait until senior year to really focus on college. However, waiting until senior year can bring a lot of additional stress that you just don’t need. Therefore, you may want to consider doing these 13 things now to help you prepare for your college admission journey.
1. Do well academically
The grades you receive during your junior year may be the most important in college admission. Your junior year grades will be the colleges’ first impression of your academic ability. You will eventually submit your senior year grades. However, when you submit your admission applications, your senior year grades will not be available. Do well in your classes and strive to do even better than you did before. Upward grade trends can work in your favor, especially if you might not have done as well at the beginning of your high school career.
2. Choose challenging classes
As you begin thinking about your senior year schedule, make sure you’re not going easy on yourself. While college admission decisions may be made without senior year grades, the colleges will know what classes you are enrolled in during your senior year. Colleges are expecting you to continue on the academic path you started and they do not want to see you slacking off senior year. Continue taking challenging academic classes, even if they are not required courses. College admission officers want to see students who challenge themselves academically. Plus, challenging classes can better prepare you for your future college courses.
3. Connect with your counselor
Your school counselor is a great resource when it comes to college admission. Counselors can provide recommendations for colleges you may (or may not) want to consider. In addition, they can provide admission strategies that can work for you. Plus, many colleges need a recommendation letter from your counselor. Connecting with your counselor will allow them to get to know you so they can provide a personal recommendation rather than a generic form letter.
4. Get to know your teachers
Colleges want recommendation letters from teachers as well. Let your future recommendation writers get to know you a little better. Once you have chosen a teacher or two to write your recommendations in the future, let them know before leaving for the summer. While they will not be able to submit the recommendation letters yet, they can start thinking about it and have it ready once your official request for a recommendation is submitted.
5. Test Preparation
Many colleges still require SAT and/or ACT scores. In addition to coming into play in admission, test scores can be used when determining financial aid and class placement. Take time to prepare for the tests before you take them. Some students choose to pay for test prep, but there are also many free test prep resources available online.
6. Prepare your resume
Your resume or brag sheet should include your extracurricular activities, volunteer work, awards, and other accomplishments. It is a great way to inventory your activities so you can determine if you need to do more as you head into senior year. Some recommendation writers may also request a resume to help them craft their letters.
7. Create a professional email address
If your current email address has anything questionable in it, create a new email address. You will be giving out your email address to colleges, scholarship providers, and other individuals and organizations related to college admission and financial aid. Your email address may be the first impression you make on these individuals. Therefore, you will want to avoid references to alcohol, drugs, profanity, etc. In addition, anything that may seem immature might not make the best impression. Therefore, I recommend creating an email address that uses your name or a variation of your name if your name is already taken.
8. Build your college list
Get to know yourself and everything you are looking for in a college. Start adding colleges to the list that meet your criteria. Do further research of the colleges to determine if they have everything you are looking for in a college or not.
9. Connect with colleges
Attend college fairs or college nights if they are happening if your area. If the college visits your school or area, attend their information session to learn more about what the institution has to offer and come prepared with questions you may have about the college. Join college mailing lists. In addition to getting more information about the colleges, it also shows the colleges you are interested. Demonstrated interest can play a roll in college admission in the future. Follow the colleges on social media to get updates, as well as getting to know the personality of the colleges.
10. Visit colleges
If you have a real interest in a college and you have not visited yet, make plans to visit. Every college will look very attractive to prospective students. However, visiting the college is the only way to get a real feel for the college and the personality of the campus. It is also the only way to find out if the college feels right for you.
11. Discuss finances with parents
Full ride scholarships sound amazing, but they are not common. Most students will have to pay some of the cost of their education. The FAFSA gives students the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), but because colleges award financial aid differently, the EFC is not always the best indication of how much you will have to pay to attend a college. Therefore, have a conversation with your parents to discuss how much the family can contribute to your education and use that information as you are researching colleges. Fill out the net price calculators at the colleges you are considering and see how much financial aid you may receive if you attend that particular college.
12. Apply for scholarships
Dedicate some time every week to search for and apply for scholarships. Scholarships are a great way to help pay for the cost of your education.
13. Plan summer activities
Many students see the summer as a time to relax and have fun. However, the summer is a great time to focus on things that can help with college admission. Learn more about summer programs, internship opportunities, or volunteer work. Your grades and test scores will play a big part in college admission, but your activities will be the things that can set you apart from the crowd.
Don’t wait until senior year to start thinking about college admission. Check off some of these college admission tasks during your senior year so you can focus on college applications in the summer and fall.