Advertiser disclosure

How to Begin the Admissions Process as a Junior

Some students hesitate to get started on the college admissions process during their junior year simply because they think it’s too early to begin. However, junior year is a great time to start on college admissions tasks. You’ll thank yourself during your busy senior year if you start laying the groundwork early. Between studying for tests, assembling your achievements and learning how to write about them on applications, and thinking about who you’ll ask for letters of recommendations, there is a lot you can do to improve your chances later on. Here is a general survey of the things you can do to prepare for the admissions process during junior year.

When do I get started?

I think that December is a pretty good starting point for high school juniors. Of course, the admissions process technically begins the minute that you start high school, but for the sake of this article, we will use December-ish of junior year. You can utilize your winter break to take a step back from classes and think about preparing a college application, starting to put together a college list, and finding a test prep tutor for the ACT and/or SAT.

Play to your strengths

Early on in the admissions process, you should start to think about your strengths. What have been your favorite classes? What have been the most meaningful intellectual experiences? How about outside of the classroom? How do you like to spend your time?  You need to own the admissions process and understanding your own strengths is a great way to get started.

Apply for scholarships

Junior year is typically a bit calmer than senior year; while you will be busy with schoolwork and extracurriculars, you won’t have the added stress of college admissions and applications. This makes it a great time to apply for scholarships. The earlier you begin applying, the better chance you’ll have of financing your education. Check out our list of scholarships for high school juniors to start, and our scholarship search tool to find a wide array of scholarships custom-matched to your interests and demographic information!

Look for internships

One great way to impress colleges is to show your abilities out of the classroom. Try our list of great internships for high schoolers to get some work experience and bolster your college application significantly. If not an internship, any sort of job can demonstrate your responsibility and go-getter attitude.

Be honest about your achievements

By the middle of junior year, you should have a good sense of your academic achievement. You will have over two years of grades and classes under your belt. A huge part of the admissions process is certainly going after your dreams, but also about being prepared. Part of being prepared is understanding how you will stack up to the competition. One way to gauge this is through using a Scattergrams to gauge your college admissions chances.

Don’t take your GPA as-is

Remember, you still have another year of grades to show your abilities. If you haven’t been thrilled with your achievement to date—fix that! If you have been successful—this isn’t a time to coast. Your junior year GPA is perhaps your most important one – your colleges will use it as the most recent demonstration of your academic abilities.

Also see: Do colleges look at senior year?

Start to think about what you want out of a college

You don’t need to put together a formal list, but it is great to start considering your goals for after high school. What type of environment do you want to be in? Do you want to stay close to home or go to college far away? What do you think you want to study? etc. These are important questions to be asking yourself! One of the best ways to assess this is to go on some college visits. Even if you’re not especially interested in the schools, you can visit whatever universities are closest to your home to get an idea of how bigger campuses feel compared to smaller ones and decide which you feel most at-home in.

Also see: Top questions to ask on a college tour

Other odds and ends:

  • You will want to sign up for at least one sitting for the SAT or ACT by the end of junior year. Check out this handy guide we put together on when to take the SAT and/or ACT.
  • Spring break can be a great time to visit colleges! Whether you are going on a cross country trip or visiting some local colleges, this can be a good time to get out there and see some schools.
  • Consider starting a list of the projects and activities you participate in! It can be an informal journal or just a list of notes – `over the four years you’re in high school, you’ll have a great many experiences and it’s best to jot them down when they’re still fresh in your mind. You’ll thank yourself when it comes time to write your essays and fill out the Common App activities section.

This is the beginning of an exciting journey! Be sure to include your parents, guidance counselors, teachers, etc. as you start thinking about your academic future. Admissions is a team effort, and you shouldn’t feel like you are going through this alone. You can always reach out to us if you have any questions!