Checklist for Juniors and Time Line for College Planning
Welcome to the Winter/Spring Semester Juniors! Now is the time to buckle down, get serious, and start your college planning. Most of you will be starting to schedule meetings with your school college or guidance counselor. Many of you will attend an introduction to your school’s college process within a few weeks. Many schools start the explanation of how to use whatever portals or applications that they have purchased to do the college process. Please do attend this introductory meeting. Typically there is no personal time during this session but an overview of the screens, a booklet on how to fill out forms, and an announcement of when to expect an email with your logon and temporary password.
Many schools have purchased Naviance™ as the portal and system to keep your college process in order. Some people find this portal very useful; others simply check it from time to time to see if any announcements from the school’s guidance are available. The portal offers a way to keep your college list, put a resume of activities, and access school reports such as transcripts.
Other schools have taken advantage of The Big Future™ on The College Board’s website or even Khan Academy’s offerings. Is there any right or best system to keep track of this process? No, not really. Many students do not take the time to constantly update the systems. That is also fine. Many parents like to simply keep a list manually or on their own planning programs.
There is no wrong way to keep track of college process, but not keeping track can be a problem.
Right now, all juniors should be either in the midst of test taking preparation or at least considering taking test preparation for later in the spring. Many courses and online practice are available. There are good, better, and great test prep offerings. Check out categories, so you at least know if what you are buying is worth the investment of money and time.
Special Note: Both the ACT and SAT have had changes this year. The first full New SAT is being administered in March. The ACT writing and language changes went into effect this past fall.
In addition to test preparation, juniors should also be getting a jump on improving grades. If exams are looming, take these semester exams very seriously! This is the year to buckle down and work hard to bring up grades. This is a difficult year. Long ago when I taught classes, I would warn juniors if they were having a fun and easy spring, they would have the worst senior fall ever! Junior year is a grind, and the sooner most of you get used to the idea of working hard as first and foremost, the easier your senior fall will be! The addition of test prep, the focus on grades, and all the extraneous efforts that you must put out for your college process make this a time challenged semester.
So heed my warning: If you are having a lot of fun and life is easy, be aware that life will become very, very stressful by fall.
Now while you are studying earnestly for your exams, you really should be putting together a nice list of schools you really are interested in seeing and potentially applying to in the fall. Now is the time to learn what requirements you will have to meet in order to be considered. Find out the GPA that the most recent entering class’s 50th percentile had; find out the average SAT and ACT scores accepted. Start keeping a list of where you are versus where you want to be by Memorial Day. If you find you are not getting where you need, then you might have a discussion with your parents about seeking help. You can contact us for any type of question and support. You can also follow current posts on our Facebook page about college life and education trends today. Now is the time to start a regular college planning schedule.
I suggest that 3 hours a week be put on your calendar NOW
Start using these hours now for research. Also begin keeping track of your activities. Start exploring your resume. IF you want a free resume template, contact us. Now is the time to plan and apply for summer courses at colleges. The courses are anywhere from three to six weeks in duration. Some colleges offer advantages to those who take a summer program and then apply. Do not apply for any program that does not actually give you college credit and is not actually administered by the college. If you mistakenly apply for these sorts of programs, they are simply some company using the college’s facility and are truly a waste of money. However, an actual college course is a great idea. The applications usually have to be submitted by early March.
Now is also the time to think about a summer job. Depending on where you live, prized, selective, internships are usually completely full by March as well. So now is the time to get a resume going and seeking out summer internships that make a difference.
Put that three hours a week on your phone or calendar now. Maybe pick Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday and book one hour each day. This is the time to make sure you start getting all these administrative exercises done so you are on target and not overwhelmed when it comes to application time next fall!