By Danielle Kirschbaum
With graduation now on the horizon, Class of 2018 Juniors should look ahead to the future. Many current juniors will submit their final college applications in less than one year. Here are our suggestions for how to get the most out of the next several months, and be productive as you move into your final year of high school.
1. STAY FOCUSED
Junior year can be difficult. This is the time for tougher classes and increased extracurricular responsibilities. Take the time to learn how to perform well even under added pressure. While it might be tempting to go easy, now is the time to ramp up. Stay focused on your academic performance and activities as you move into second semester and into the summer. The result will be a variety of new experiences that will give you more to discuss as you start to think about your college application essays and talking points.
2. START PREPPING EARLY
When thinking about college, preparation can take a variety of forms, all of which should be started early. What does your school list look like? What do you think you might want to study? Have you thought about taking your entrance exams? The start of the new year provides a fresh opportunity to put these items at the top of your To Do list. Here are some of the important items that you’ll need to think deeply about over the next few months:
- Test Prep (if not already)
- Developing your college list
- Demonstrating Interest to your top schools
- Visiting schools during breaks
- Finalizing your summer activities plans
- Planning your recommenders
- Establishing your application timeline
3. START HAVING CONVERSATIONS
One of the ways to begin preparing for the college application process is to start having conversations—with your parents, with your counselor, and with schools themselves. Sit down with your parents to make sure that everyone is on the same page concerning college applications. Do you plan on going somewhere far away or staying close to home? What will you study? What will you do over the summer to enhance your application? Many of these decisions won’t be made right away, but now is the time to start the conversation.
With your school counselor, schedule an appointment to make sure that everything is in order with your classes, and that you’re on track for your potential schools. Are there any lingering courses that need to be taken? Or are there any other pre-requisites that need to be addressed? Your relationship with your counselor will prove valuable and essential as you move into senior spring, and now is the time to begin that dialogue.
Now is also a great time to meet with one of our professional counselors at Vault Prep for an assessment of your application strengths and weaknesses, as well as suggestions for summer and senior year activities to make your application stand out.
Lastly, use your junior spring to get onto your chosen school’s radar. Make sure you’re on their mailing list, and consider reaching out to your area’s representative as summer approaches. If you have a top choice already in mind, start doing what you can to connect.
4. ESTABLISH A SCHEDULE
If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by all of these tasks, never fear! This is where our next tip will come in handy. Consider building into your schedule a weekly time to dedicate to college application activities. Set aside an hour or two per week for school research, exploratory emails, parental conversations, or counselor discussions. By setting up a routine, your college application process will start to feel normal and controlled. As you move into summer, the amount of time allotted to college tasks will increase, and the foundation you establish now will greatly help with organization.
5. HAVE FUN!
Don’t forget to enjoy the process! College application season can be a stressful time, but be sure to stay positive and think about the excitement that awaits. It can be fun to discover your ideal match school and even more fun to think about studying your favorite subjects in a more in-depth way. By giving yourself plenty of time to dedicate to the process, you’re setting yourself up for a much less stressful experience.
To get in touch with one of our professional college counselors, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to provide a free consultation and suggest a plan of action that will guide you for the next twelve months.
Danielle received her B.A. from The George Washington University in Business Administration, and an M.A. in Counseling from Loyola Marymount University. In developing Vault Prep’s proprietary curriculum to college admissions counseling, Danielle has pulled from her knowledge in marketing, childhood development (academic, personal, socio-emotional), and the college admissions landscape.