As junior year comes to a close, high school students tend to feel overwhelmed by the college planning process. To utilize their time wisely over this coming summer, juniors should try to get ahead on research and prepare their next steps for the break. Come senior year, they will be thanking themselves for starting early.
1. Prepare a challenging schedule for senior year.
Your junior should meet with their counselor to determine what classes they’ll take next year, and to make sure they’re on track for graduation. When they pick classes, don’t load up on easy electives. Colleges do consider the senior year courses and grades, so stick with a challenging schedule. Take AP courses whenever possible, and consider Honors classes as well. It’s a big boost on their transcript.
2. Start a scholarship search.
There are lots of scholarships out there; you just need to spend some time and effort to find them. Your junior should heck with their school’s guidance office for scholarships from local organizations and use online scholarship search tools to find a wider range of options. They can also scan local newspapers to see which civic, cultural, and service organizations in your area award financial aid to graduating seniors. If they are considering military academies or ROTC scholarships, your junior should contact their counselor before leaving school for the summer. If they want a four-year ROTC scholarship, they should begin the application process the summer before senior year.
3. Contact recommendation writers.
Teachers and guidance counselors are often asked to write recommendations for lots of students. Your junior needs to consider whom they wish to ask now and let them know so they’ll have time to prepare before getting tons of requests in the fall. They should ask teachers who know them well and who will have positive things to say. Letters of recommendation from a coach, activity leader, or adult who knows your junior well outside of school are also valuable.
4. Apply for a summer job or internship.
Summer employment and internships in fields your junior is interested in will look appealing on a college application or resume. For instance, if they are interested in journalism, check out the local newspaper for openings or internship opportunities. If they have the time and money for it, school programs are offered in the summer months, such as Columbia University’s Summer Program for High School Students and Engineering Innovation Workshops at John Hopkins University. The money they earn can also be used to help pay application and testing fees in the fall. By immersing themselves in fields that they are passionate about, your junior will gain new knowledge and hands-on experience and build a nice resume.
5. Generate a list of schools of interest and set up appointments at the top college choices.
Your junior should request viewbooks and information about financial aid and academic programs at the top colleges that interest them. Look at local colleges (large, small, public, and private) and get an idea of what works for your junior. They’ll often have to plan ahead when visiting colleges. Your junior should call the admissions office to set up a personal interview, tour, and a meeting with a professor or coach if they’re interested.