High School Juniors – the “Golden Year” for College-Bound Students
It is in the junior year of high school that you’ll make critical decisions that could have a major impact on the next five years of your life (and beyond!) as you start narrowing down lists of colleges and career paths. Here are some of those major decisions.
Classes and Grades. The junior year selection of classes–and the grades you receive in them–is very important because it is the last full year of grades that admissions will review while deciding your future. You’ll want to stick to a tough regimen of college-prep classes, including some advanced-placement or other honors classes, if possible. Don’t go crazy with the courses and overload yourself, but the courses and grades you receive in your junior year are very important. Some of the teachers you have for classes in your junior year may also play an important role for you in your senior year; you may need to ask them to write you a letter of recommendation for college.
Standardized Tests. The junior year, from start to end, is filled with standardized tests. Early in the year, you’ll take the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). This test, which measures critical reading, math problem-solving and writing skills, is important for a few reasons. It’s a good indicator and excellent preparation for the SAT test that you will take at the end of your junior year, your score may qualify you for a select group of merit scholarships, and it’s one of the first chances you have to begin requesting information from colleges.
College Planning. The junior year is also the time to get organized for handling the blitz of college material that will be coming your way. The whole college search can be a little unnerving, a bit daunting, so just relax and take your time during this year and the summer that follows to really focus on finding the right mix of colleges for you. It is a good idea to develop some sort of filing system so that the information from the colleges on your short list is easy to find when you need them.
Try to use your junior year as a time to get ahead and to start planning academically for your future. Remember that the more you accomplish in your junior year, the more you can relax and truly enjoy your senior year in high school!