On November 1st, when I was in my local pharmacy to pick up a prescription (as well as some half priced candy from Halloween,) I was a bit shocked to see red and green everywhere. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the holiday and Christmas displays were already up. Even in early November, I could buy all of the wrapping paper and candy canes that I wanted. Similar to the increasingly early holiday starting point, the college admissions process begins earlier and earlier for high school juniors.
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.
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.
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 your high school’s Naviance (other tools like this one from Cappex can also be helpful).
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.
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!
Other odds and ends:
-You will want to sign up for at least one testing for the SAT or ACT by the end of junior year. Check out this handy guide we put together.
-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 any see some schools.
–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 here if you have any questions!