Happy New Year! We have been concentrating on seniors applying to college, and now that applications have been submitted we want to switch gears and focus on juniors. Juniors, you know that this spring is a very important semester that matters to college admissions committees, and we want to help you organize your time and reduce stress. Here are some priorities for the upcoming term:
- Excel in your classes. It is no myth that stellar grades this semester are crucial to your college applications, so hit the books. Get extra help in classes that are tougher for you, and go the extra mile in your best subjects. Utilize evenings and weekends to get ahead academically, not socially.
- Get your standardized tests out of the way. Sign up for the January SAT (you can register online late up until 1-13-15.) Earlier is better when it comes to the SAT, especially if you decide to/need to take it a second time. Your timing for SAT Subject Tests depends on your class schedule — you want to take them after completing a course in that subject. For example, if you are currently taking AP United States History and plan to take the Subject Test covering that material, you should plan to take the test right after your AP exam. However, if you want to take a test in a subject for which you have completed coursework, don’t hesitate to sign up. Also, for your AP’s, research the possibility of self studying for AP exams this May (how about BOTH English exams?) Get testing out of the way so you can spend your senior summer and fall compiling/crafting/perfecting your college applications and focusing on senior year coursework, NOT added testing.
- Form great relationships with teachers. Your junior year teachers will likely be the ones you ask for letters of recommendation, so make sure you are giving them more to say than “John got an A in my class.” Prepare for class and participate in discussions, ask probing questions and develop sophisticated arguments. Talk to your teachers outside of class whenever possible, and share your specific academic interests and goals with them.
- Visit colleges. It is not too early to start compiling your list of schools. Spend weekends visiting colleges near and far if possible. Be sure to organize your notes so you remember the unique aspects of each school. Although you may expect to remember all of the small but exciting details, after several information sessions and tours they begin to blend together. Start figuring out what matters to you most in a school. Do you prefer a rural or urban campus? How will the size of the school impact your learning? Do you have an anticipated major that will be best supported in certain types of institutions?
- Plan an academic summer. The upcoming summer is your final opportunity to demonstrate your academic passion to colleges, so choose wisely. Think about your past experiences and best classes, and tie them together with what matters to you most. Look into for-credit summer programs that complement and enhance your scholarly focus, and will prepare you for college-level work. Consider research positions at academic institutions. You might also consider taking on a paid summer job, as maturity and responsibility are impressive to admission officers.
How are you planning your scholarly summer? How have YOU spent your summers thus far? What summer programs sound intriguing to you? Share your experiences below!