The college application process is not what it used to be. These days, getting into college is about much more than just good grades and well-written essays. It takes months of extensive research, preparation and effort. Most importantly, families must start thinking about college earlier on. Given all the intricacies of applying to colleges, we are never surprised when parents ask us what their child should be doing during their junior year. In response to this question we’ve put together the following list:
Perform well academically
It is easy to be overcome by all of the stresses that accompany being a junior in high school. Be sure to make getting good grades your child’stop priority throughout the year. Going into junior year identify any weak academic areas and develop a plan to address them with your child.
Get more involved
Throughout their high school career, your child has probably gotten involved with a number of extra-curriculars. Now might be the right time for a lesson in prioritization. Encourage your child to get more involved in the extracurriculars they are most passionate about.
Prepare for and take the PSAT
The PSAT is administered in mid-October. Experts are split about whether students should prepare for the PSAT
. Make this decision with your child, however doing well on the PSAT could mean that your child qualifies for a National Merit Scholarship. The PSAT also serves as anindicator of the areas where your child may want to focus in order to do well on the SAT. Begin college research
Start doing school research. Specifically, help your child think about what kind of college experience will allow them to grow both academically and as an individual. They should consider what criteria (e.g., size, location, cost, academic rigor) are most important to them. Don’t stop at school criteria, also have your child look into potential majors and careers in order to see which ones they are most excited about.
Think about financial aidNow is also the time to start thinking about the cost of college. Speak to your child’s counselor about the financial options available to you.
Prepare for the SAT
If your child has been studying consistently and feels ready, register for the March SAT. Otherwise they should plan to take the May or June SAT. Develop your college shortlist
Based on the college characteristics that are most important to you and your child begin to make an initial list of colleges that interest you. Have your child speak to their college-aged friends to hear about their experience firsthand. Begin to plan your spring visits to college campuses. In addition to a personal interview or tour, try to meet with an admissions officer or professor in order to get a better sense of the school.
Gather more information
Your child should begin to request admissions, scholarship, and financial aid information from the colleges on their list. You both should continue to attend local college fairs and visit colleges.
Continue test-prep and registration
In March you’ll want to check in with your child about preparing for their upcoming AP exams. Check in with your counselor to see if your child should opt to take the ACT instead of the SAT. In April you’ll want to register for the appropriate SAT, ACT, and SAT II Subject Tests.
Take the tests
In May your child should be taking their AP, SAT, ACT, and/or SAT II subject tests. Be sure they eat properly, are prepared, and have slept enough in the days leading up to the test.
Create a plan for summer
Begin to search for summer jobs, enrichment programs, and other summer activities. Schedule your summertime college visits.
Prepare for senior year
In March your child should have had an individual college planning meeting with their counselor. If this isn’t already scheduled work with your child to get it on your college counselor’s calendar.
Finish taking the Tests
Continue to make sure that your child is registered, well-rested, and prepared for their remaining exams.
Refine your list of schools
Visit colleges, take tours, and have interviews at schools.
Begin your college applications
Your child should make a list of teachers who can write their college
recommendations. Your child should also begin drafting their college essays.
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