You may think you’ve got plenty of time to prepare for college, but there’s more to college prep than just applying to college. Make sure you pay attention to everything on this college preparation checklist for high school juniors.
Watch Your Grades
Now is the time to shine in your academic work, since colleges will look at your high school transcripts (with an emphasis on your junior year.) Take advanced classes if you can, but take only what you can excel in, since an A in a standard level class is more impressive than a C in an Advanced Placement (AP) class.
Join Clubs, Teams or Organizations
Colleges want to know you’re more than an egg-head who can ace every test. They’re looking for well-rounded individuals who will contribute to the college and will go on to have successful careers after graduation. That means you will want to join a variety of clubs, teams and organizations.
If you hope to get scholarships, make sure you run for leadership positions in at least one of the groups you join. If possible, try for a mix of athletic, artistic and academic groups to showcase your many strengths.
Many scholarships and grants reward community service and volunteer work. Colleges like to see community service on your record, so beef up your application in this manner.
Keep clear records. Make sure you document the following: when you volunteered, how many hours you put in, and exactly what you were doing each time you served.
Be sure to get letters of recommendation from adults who oversee your volunteer efforts. You never know if that adult will still be overseeing the program when you apply to college as a senior, or if they will be unreachable for a reference later on.
Look Into College Credit Options
As you discover how expensive college is, you’ll realize you want to cut costs wherever possible. Many high school juniors take AP (Advanced Placement) courses and then test out of college classes, earning college credit at a reduced price. (Tests usually cost around $80 apiece.) You may also have the option to take classes at a local community college (and even get your high school to pay for them.)
Start Applying for Scholarships
Scholarships aren’t just for high school seniors and college students! You’ll find a lot of scholarships are open to high school sophomores and juniors. Many require essays, speeches or proof of volunteer work. Scholarships add up, and your senior year is most likely going to be busier than your junior year, so you’ll want to get ahead of this now, while you’ve got the time.
Take the SAT or ACT
At the very least, you should begin studying for these tests. Your last opportunities to take these tests will be in the fall of your senior year, which is when you should be applying to colleges. You can find free sample tests online to take as you prepare for these daunting exams.
Summary: Preparing for College as a High School Junior
If you tackle the items listed above, you’ll end your junior year ahead of most of your peers and will be well prepared for your senior year of high school.