Your junior year of high school is one of the most important times in getting ready to head off to college. Sure, you may have a whole year before any applications are actually due, but the work starts now if you want to have the best chances of being accepted into your dream school! In this video, I’m giving all you juniors out there a ten-step checklist to whip your applications into shape and leave those admissions committees speechless!
1. Take the PSAT
The first thing you should do is take the PSAT. Besides the potential of being awarded the National Merit Scholarship award, this test is an excellent benchmark to see where you stand with regards to standardized testing. Your score will be a great indication of what you need to work on and what your next steps should be. We already have an excellent video/blog post on what makes a great PSAT score and how to interpret your score and move forward.
2. SAT or ACT?
The next step during this time is to make a choice between your two options for standardized testing – the SAT and ACT. It is strongly recommended to take a practice ACT as soon as possible to see which you prefer. After all, it boils down to personal preference – which test can you personally do better on?
We already have a video on making the choice between the new SAT and ACT as well, so check that out for more awesome advice! To see our concordance table which relates scores between the three exams (SAT/ACT/PSAT), visit our blog post on the PSAT linked above.
3. Make a preliminary college list
Now is also the time to start looking at schools you may want to go to. Lucky for you, there are thousands of resources available to students like you including:
• College Fairs and information sessions
• College Websites
• Friends and family
• The internet
Not only can you learn all about these schools and what kind of programs they offer, but you can also find out about what kind of experiences you can have there. College reviews are all over the internet, and websites like Quora and Reddit are excellent places to hear from people who attended the colleges you are interested in. I really can’t overstate the utility of the internet here, it is simply chalk full of invaluable information that can help you make informed decisions about which schools you want to attend.
When deciding on your list it’s important to have a balance of safety, target, and reach schools based on your projected test scores and GPA. These numbers can help you decide what tier schools you should be aiming for to achieve this balanced list.
4. Test Scheduling
You also want to be smart about spreading out your testing and leaving yourself some breathing room if something goes wrong. I recommend that students take the test twice, leaving a third test date to use if necessary.
Additionally, we aren’t just talking about the SAT/ACT anymore. You also have to be thinking about any AP exams and SAT subject tests you are planning to take. Keep in mind that the SAT and SAT subject tests are offered on the same days and you can’t take both on the same day!
Luckily, all of the test dates are available ahead of time at our site supertutortv.com under the resources tab. Try and plan out your tests so that you aren’t studying for several tests of different subjects all at once. Since subject tests are offered in June and all AP exams are in May, it’s a really good idea to dovetail your AP exams and subject tests by taking tests with overlapping subject matter to make studying easier.
5. Test Preparation Game Plan
And how are you going to prepare for all these exams? Well, that’s where we come in. Here at SupertutorTV we offer tons of SAT and ACT preparation videos, all available for free at our YouTube Channel.
In general, I recommend two to three months of preparation before your exams. If you happen to be taking the ACT, be sure to check out our online ACT prep system! We will also have an official online SAT prep system by fall of 2018.
6. Scholarships and Paying for College
Paying for college is undoubtedly one of the most difficult aspects of attending, but you can start planning and preparing now! This includes looking up which schools offer various forms of financial aids, researching independent scholarships, or looking into loans or work study or similar programs.
If you would like more information, we have a video series starring Liane, one of our summer associates, who is currently attending NYU on scholarship. She provides lots of insight into how you can begin to explore your options.
7. Talk to Your Parents!
You’re not an adult quite yet, and chances are that your parents will be helping you out with college expenses. That is why it is important to discuss your goals with your parents to get on the same page and see what your options are. Be sure to discuss what is manageable for you and what you are expected to cover, all the while avoiding any potential miscommunication down the road!
8. Check Your Schedule for Holes
Now is also the perfect time to put all your ducks in a row and prevent any mishaps down the line. It would be quite unfortunate to find out halfway through senior year that you didn’t take enough social science classes and now you can’t apply to your dream school. Be sure to thoroughly check the requirements for each school you are planning to apply so that, if needed, you can spend the summer and senior year checking off those requirements!
A great idea would be to take summer courses at local colleges. While fulfilling your requirements you are simultaneously showing your schools that you can take college level courses.
9. Plan Your Summer
The summer is an often-underutilized period that can be used to greatly boost your chances of admission. It is extremely important to be involved, stay intellectual, and show your passion during this time. Just some options to do this include:
• Summer Jobs
• Summer courses
• College Programs
Be resourceful! Reach out to professors at local universities or cold-call companies. There is always something that you can be doing that shows you are more than the average high-schooler.
10. Plan Your College Visits
It’s always nice to visit schools before applying to tour the facilities and see how you like the campus. However, if traveling to visit schools is not in your budget, you can always “tour” the schools online. Just because you don’t get the chance to see the school in person doesn’t mean it will be any less of a fit for you.
It is also a great option to visit schools once you know where you have been accepted. This is a great way to narrow down your options and find the school that is perfect for you.
So that’s it juniors! Go out there, be proactive, and make the best of this year before the real fun starts.