College Search Tips for Juniors

Published by Wendy Nelson on

Now is a good time to share college search tips for juniors in high school.  The seniors should be past the college search process and in the midst of the college application process.  It is time then for juniors to figure out their plan, to have a path towards next Fall’s college application season.  Second semester of Junior year will start soon and that means only 9 to 10 months before the first college applications are due.

What Should High School Juniors Do Now to Prep for College Applications?

  1. Finalize List of Potential Colleges – Use a college search website to help find potential colleges.  My favorite ones are, Big Future, and a newer option, College Factual.  If your student isn’t tracking potential colleges on a spreadsheet or other tool, now is the time to start.  Check out my free College Search Spreadsheet template that you can download and use all the way through college applications.
  2. College Visits – You all know that Junior year is prime time for college visits. But with all that most Juniors have going on, time is scarce to fit college visits in.  However, it is going to be much more stressful to try to fit in college visits in the midst of Fall college applications.  One great tip – Compare your student’s Spring Break to Spring Break at the colleges he or she wants to visit.  Chances are good that many of them will have different Spring Breaks giving you a great time to take care of a few visits while students are on campus.
  3. Prep For and Schedule ACT/SAT Tests – Has your student taken the ACT and/or SAT test yet?  If so, is he or she happy with the scores?  There is plenty of time to prep for and take the tests over the next several months.  Students often do better when they take the tests late Junior year or early Senior year.  There are lots of great study options including books, tutoring and online prep.  Magoosh is a great online prep resource to check out.
  4. Plan for Summer – The summer before senior year is a great time to dig deeper into potential majors by attending a college summer program.  Colleges around the country offer summer programs in all sorts of content areas.  Start investigating these now as applications will be do sometime during Spring semester and some of these programs have competitive admissions.  Other good options for summer would be great volunteer work opportunities or a full-time summer job.  Your student should choose to do something over the summer that will add to his or her college applications in some way.
  5. Show Demonstrated Interest – Colleges want to know when students are interested in them.  Have your student keep in contact with the admissions office.  There are several ways to stay in contact other than just emailing questions.  Of course college visits are the best way to show interest.  When colleges attend local college fairs, this is a convenient way to maintain contact.  Your student can stop by a college’s booth and tell them that he or she is interested and is planning to apply there.  Also, many colleges send admissions representatives out to visit high schools.  Your student check with his or her counseling office to get the list of schools that are visiting and make a point to meet up with any that he or she is interested in.

Along with following these college search tips for Juniors, in order to be ready for college applications, Juniors should make grades their top priority.  With most applications being due before the close of first-semester Senior-year grades, the Junior-year grades are the most important on the college applications.  Colleges will be looking for an upward trend from Freshman year through Junior year, or at least a steady state.  This means closing out Junior year with strong grades will be important.

Using these college search tips, you can help your Junior with a little planning now to make the Fall college applications easier.