5 New Year College Search Steps for High School Juniors

There are specific new year college search steps for high school juniors. If you are the parent of a high school Junior, it’s currently the start of the second semester of Junior year. This is a crucial time in the college search process. For many Juniors, especially those with a schedule of AP, dual credit and honors courses, it will be a very busy and challenging semester. Before the semester gets too crazy, take time to evaluate whether your student is on track with the following steps.

5 New Year College Search Steps for High School Juniors

  • Schedule College Visits – Spring of Junior year is an important time for getting to college campuses when classes are in session. Your student’s Spring Break could be a great time for visits if there are colleges he or she wants to visit that aren’t on Spring Break at the same time. Take time now to map out all of your student’s days off and look at visit calendars for colleges he or she is interested in. There may be some scheduled visit days that work out with your schedule or you may be able to schedule an individual visit. Both have their merits.
  • Determine an ACT/SAT Strategy – Spring of Junior year is the most popular time for taking ACT and SAT tests. Your student may have already taken at least one test so far.  How were the results? Is it in his/her best interests to shoot for a higher score? If so, what will she or he do to prepare for that? There are lots of great online test prep resources as well as books and other materials.
  • Narrow Down the College List – The goal will be to have a college list finalized by the beginning of Fall Semester Senior Year. Your student will be starting to apply to colleges then and it is much less stressful to have the list lined up rather than trying to do that and start applications at the same time!
  • Focus on Grades – Most college applications will get submitted during Fall Semester of Senior Year. Therefore, Junior Year will be the last grades that get turned in with the application. Spring Semester of Junior Year is the last shot for your student to impress the admissions committee with a stellar GPA.
  • Understand Your Financial Picture – Now is a great time to have a serious talk with your college-bound student about how to pay for college if you haven’t already. If you don’t have the savings and/or cash flow to pay for 4 years of college at the type of schools your student is interested in, determine what your approach to paying will be. Have you done the FAFSA4Caster to see if you should expect to qualify for need-based aid? Have you run Net Price Calculators on college websites? If it doesn’t look like your family will qualify for much or enough need-based aid, has your student looked for colleges that offer great merit scholarships? This can be researched two ways:
    1. Find colleges that offer a high % of merit-based aid by looking them up on the CollegeData website or another college search site that lists out the percentage of freshmen receiving “merit-based gift aid”,
    2. Look up merit scholarships directly either by searching through college websites or by subscribing to meritscholarshiplist.com to search these all in one place and without needing to know exactly which colleges to search.

Work with your high school Junior now, before the Spring semester gets too busy, to make sure he or she is on track with the college search process and will be ready to finalize his or her college list by the beginning of Senior year. Extra time invested now will pay off when it’s application crunch time next Fall.

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