As a junior, you’re actually really well positioned to get a leg up on the college admissions process. You still have some time to complete your testing requirements and you can start to research colleges before the crunch of application season. Here are some things you can get started on right away:
1) Study for the SAT or ACT. This is a great time to start studying for the SAT or ACT. But which one should you take? Try out some practice test questions and see which might be a better fit test for you. The key differences between to two tests are the tone of the questions, the math sections, the number of sections, the writing sections, scoring, and focus on vocabulary words. This is a great time to figure out which test would be best for you so that you can also determine a plan of action for how to best spend your summer. If you’re in the U.S., register by February 13th for the March 14th SAT test and March 13th for the April 18th ACT test. For more information on getting help for these tests, visit our SAT and ACT pages.
2) Research colleges you are interested in. Just like in the dating world, it’s really important to make sure that you are a good match for a college and that the college is a good match for you. This is a great time to discover what things matter to you and which colleges have those things. For example, would you thrive in classes that have less than 30 students or would you prefer large lectures of 200+ students? Do you need to be in or very close to a big city or would you prefer a college in the suburbs? Make a list and take notes on what you like and do not like about the colleges. This will help you to narrow your list down when it comes time to make your final college application decisions. In addition, you may want to take advantage of your upcoming spring break or long weekends and fit in some college visits. You can request guided campuses from a number of colleges; go directly to the college websites and search for “campus tours” for a list of dates and times. You may even be able to meet with an admissions officer! Visiting the campus is a great way to get a feel for the student body and the school’s culture.
3) Analyze your extracurricular activities. What do your activities say about you? Are you pursuing extracurricular activities that demonstrate your passions and interests? If yes, great! How can you deepen your commitment to these organizations or roles? If not, let’s find activities that you can get excited about. Remember, colleges are looking for depth over breadth so don’t wait until the last minute to suddenly add more extracurricular activities. Find something that really interests you and dig in!
Jennifer Sohn Lim is Assistant Director of Admissions at Veritas Prep. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Arts at Wellesley College, followed by her Master of Education and Certificate of Advanced Study in Counseling at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.