Spring break is here and many high school juniors are FINALLY coming to the realization that it is time to focus on the college search. Here are my tips and timeline for juniors at any stage in the process. Start now!
1. Spend time researching college and career options
While many juniors have (hopefully) already done this, there are probably equally as many who have not. Most students have had a broad discussion of college plans with their parents and/or high school counselor. What they probably haven't done enough of is actually sit down and do some self reflecting and research. What are their potential career and course of study interests? What type of college do they envision for themselves? What are the requirements for admission to those colleges? They should make it a goal to spend time doing research now while they still have time to visit colleges when the semester is in full swing, prep for standardized tests, and plan summer activities to help them with their admission and final decision.
2. Establish college application timeline and goals NOW
Juniors should draft their timeline for college applications now. Although they may not have their 'list' narrowed down to the final few schools, it is not too early to establish personal deadlines for getting their applications done. The key is to set those deadlines early - take the potential college deadlines and move them back by 6-8 weeks! There can be a lot of unexpected delays, added requirements and other bumps along the college application road, and it is better to be done early than to risk an incomplete application. Students who do not stay organized or prepare early often forget to take into consideration the fact that there are pieces of the applications which are not in their hands. Recommendation letters, high school transcripts, and test scores are just a few examples of requirements which may not be sent directly by the student. Students need to give their counselors and recommenders plenty of time to complete their pieces.
3. Plan Productive Summer Activities
The value of a job shadow, volunteering, or internship for all high school students is often underestimated. There are many other benefits aside from building one’s resume. Students who are unsure of their college major or future career interests should research local companies and organizations where they can shadow or volunteer in the summer. Even a few hours or a week would be helpful for the student to get an idea of what actually goes on in a particular job beyond the standard descriptions read online. While most companies may not want to pay a high school student or don’t openly advertise unpaid internships or job shadows, students should not shy away from seeking them out. Many professionals are open to helping. Students should seek out opportunities for self-exploration and learning more about potential careers and majors before they apply for college and summer is the perfect time for this.
For more tips check out these other great resources:
The College Essay Guy: https://www.collegeessayguy.com/blog/junior-february-whats-next
The College Board: https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/CollegePlanning/media/pdf/BigFuture-College-Planning-Calendar-Juniors.pdf