Juniors who haven’t started to look for the right college for them need to start as soon as possible. Will the world end if you don’t. Nope. But by starting now you have a much better opportunity to find a college that meets your needs, will accept you and one you can afford. In fact, I often recommend that students begin early in their junior year thinking about what needs to be done.
So if you have been ignoring the process so far, what do you need to do at this point. Here are a few short tips.
First, if you haven’t already taken one of the standardized tests, either the SAT or ACT, you should sign up immediately to take the June test. By taking at least one test before fall you will have some background on the level of selectivity to consider in colleges. If you do well on that first test you also be able to avoid having to retake another standardized test.
Second, visit some colleges. If you already know the type of college you are interested in, ie. small, big, urban, rural, preppy, crunchy then focus on those colleges near you that may have some of the characteristics you are seeking. Don’t know what type of college you might enjoy? Visit a variety of types of colleges. Chances are, you will find some you like and some you don’t. That can help narrow down the colleges you are looking at.
Third, think about who you are. This relates to number two above. You want to find the right college for you. Not your best friends right college and not mom and dad’s right college. You are an individual. Think about what makes you…well, you.
Fourth, before school lets out for summer talk to your favorite junior year teacher to see if they will write you a recommendation in the fall if it is required by the colleges. This seems really early but it gives the teacher more opportunity to think about what makes you unique and also makes you look like someone who is on top of things. Also, many popular teachers get too many requests for recommendations and put a limit on who they can write for.
Fifth, spend some time this summer investigating colleges on the internet, in college guidebooks, talking to friends, or all of the above. If you can come up with a rough list of colleges to which you wish to apply this fall, your senior year will be a lot more relaxed.
Sixth, most colleges will have their applications available later in the summer. Find out when the application comes out for the colleges you are interested in and work on the essays this summer.
Seventh, have fun during the summer. Just spend a little time each week working on 5 and 6. You will glad you did when the busy senior year starts.