Countdown to College - Junior Year
Stay on track with your classes and grades. Check on your class rank and your GPA. Even if your grades haven’t been stellar, it’s never too late to improve. Colleges like to see an upward trend.
Make a list of colleges you're interested in. Your list of colleges should include schools that meet your most important criteria (for example, size, location, cost, academic majors, or special programs). Weigh each of the factors according to their importance to you and develop a preliminary ranking of the schools on your list. Several websites offer comparison tools. Check out OKCollegeStart's Student-Campus Matching Assistant or BigFuture's College Search for schools outside of Oklahoma.
Find out college entrance exam dates and mark them on your calendar. Start preparing for them now! The counseling office has ACT booklets with sample test questions inside. There are several practice tests online. The math portion of the ACT will consist of Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and a couple Trigonometry questions. You are likely to do better once you have completed the first three classes.
Make sure you are meeting any special requirements. For example, if you want to play Division I or II sports in college, start the certification process and check with your counselor to make sure you’re taking a core curriculum that meets NCAA requirements.
Stay involved with extracurricular activities. Colleges look for consistency and depth in the non-academic activities you pursue. Taking on leadership roles and making a commitment to the same groups are more important than dabbling in several different activities each year.
Begin narrowing down your college choices. Make sure you have all the information you need about the colleges you’re interested in (entrance requirements, tuition, room and board costs, course offerings, student activities, financial aid, etc.). Then begin comparing schools by the factors that are most important to you and rank your choices. Talk to your family about the colleges you’re interested in. Your family can learn about what you want to pursue and you can hear any concerns or suggestions they might have.
Register for college entrance exams. Find out if the colleges you are interested in require the ACT or SAT (most Oklahoma schools prefer an ACT score). Register to take the tests you need; most juniors take them in the winter or spring. You can take them again in the fall of your senior year if you’re unhappy with your scores.
Pre-enroll in challenging classes for your senior year. Meet with your counselor to determine what classes you’ll take next year and to make sure you’re on track for graduation. When you pick your classes, don’t load up on easy electives. Colleges do consider your senior year courses and grades, so stick with a schedule that challenges you.
Determine which adults you would like to write your recommendations. Teachers and guidance counselors are often asked to write recommendations for lots of students. Letters from coaches, activity leaders, or adults who knows you well outside of school are also valuable. Consider whom you want to ask now and let them know so they’ll have time to prepare before getting tons of requests in the fall. Ask teachers who know you well and who will have positive things to say.
Apply for a summer job or internship. Summer employment and internships in fields you’re interested in will look appealing on a college application or resume. The money you earn can also be used to help pay application and testing fees in the fall.
Visit colleges. Visit the campuses of your top five college choices. Take a tour and speak with the admissions and financial aid staff. You may also be able to talk to students if some classes are in session. If you have an interview, be sure to send a thank-you letter to the interviewer once you return home.
Start working on your application essays. Compose rough drafts of the essays you’ll need for your college applications. Have a teacher read and discuss them with you so you can see what to work on. Make any revisions to your application essays and prepare final drafts. Don’t forget to proofread your final essays a few times.