Your junior year in high school is pivotal as you plan for your college education. This year you will have to concentrate even harder on making good grades and taking all your required classes. Standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT, as well as AP Placement tests, will be part of this school year.
If you haven’t started your college planning strategy yet, this is the year you need to get organized and make college planning a priority. Devise a filing system and start gathering materials that you’ll need when completing college applications. This includes all your high school accomplishments, work experiences, leadership roles, community and non-profit work, and awards and honors.
Junior Year Timeline
- Be sure you are taking a challenging course schedule including college preparatory, AP and honors classes when available and appropriate.
- Register in early fall for the October PSAT (Practice SAT) which will also serve as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying exam.
- The SAT and ACT web sites offer free practice tests as do web sites that focus specifically on college entrance exam test preparation, including www.number2.com and www.march2success.com.
- Make a timeline for scholarship application deadlines for your senior year. Explore scholarship search websites, such as Fund My Future's Free Scholarship Search.
- Begin to make a list of your college selection priorities.
- Investigate potential colleges of interest. Use catalogs, publications, web sites, college fairs and online college campus tours to gather more information.
- Register for and take the SAT or ACT in the spring. Find out what tests are required by the colleges you are considering attending.
- In the spring, register for and complete AP tests for any AP courses you are currently taking in high school.
- Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center if you plan to play sports at a Division I or II college (beginning in the summer following your junior year).
- Begin to visit college campuses. While summer is often a convenient time for families to schedule campus visits, it is not always the best time to see a school. Try to visit a college when classes are in session and students are on the campus. By meeting professors and staff, attending a class, and/or eating a meal on campus, you can get a feel for campus life .
- Remember, spring and summer earnings during and after your junior year can affect your financial aid.
- Use the FAFSA4caster to estimate your eligibility early, which will give you better insight when making college choices.
- Continue to save for college because the federal government assumes every family will contribute something toward the cost of attending college. Although the college years may not be far off, remember that anything you and your family can put away now will be welcomed assistance when the time comes.