Perhaps one of the best things to do during that junior year of high school is to create an action plan. While
many students think their senior year is the year when all the decisions are made, the junior year is the start
of the whole college process. It’s never wrong to start early. Tips and lists like the seven below will help
students organize and create some focus.
Here’s a list of action steps that juniors will want to use….
Make sure the courses are challenging and part of a rigorous curriculum. Most of your classes should be part of a
college prep curriculum. While a lower grade can be tough to deal with, a more advanced class coupled with a
lower grade shows that you are brave and willing to try something tougher. And that struggle often makes for a
good topic for an admissions essay.
Attend college fairs and find four to six schools that meet your chosen criteria: student population size, location,
clubs and organizations, academic disciplines and more. Try to have a couple of those schools be ones you can
get into without much problem.
Take some of the responsibility for college planning onto your shoulders. Start thinking about the questions you
really want to ask the counselor – admissions questions, financial aid, help in future career choices. Remember,
they have a tight schedule to keep – be prepared. For those students who seek an interactive site that could help
with planning and preparing some of those questions, try the college planning page at MyMajors.com.
This is an opportunity to learn if you really like veterinary medicine or if blood and injured pets makes you upset.
Talk to adults and see what they enjoy and dislike about their jobs. Use your parents as a networking tool, too.
Volunteer, but not with too many organizations. College and university admissions staffs know when students are
trying to pad their resumes and applications. Be sincere in helping one or two groups rather than 15. Remember,
being well rounded is a pretty good thing.
It’s just easier to start the process and see what scores you will get. If they are lower, take the tests again. Just
don’t take the tests without some review. The test sites themselves have practice tests, as do the public libraries.
Be smart and prepare.
How much money has been saved for college? Are you expected to apply for financial aid? Will parents help? It
is sometimes an awkward conversation, but it has to be ongoing. Remember, the true cost of a college isn’t
determined until the colleges and universities have prepared your financial aid package, and many private
colleges have their own scholarships and grants. And don’t overlook community colleges. Many community
colleges have articulation agreements with four-year schools so the community college credits usually transfer
without any problem.
You know the deal: There are just 24 hours in each day. What you do with that time makes all the difference. While high-school students average 35 hours per week of class time, college students log an average of 15 to 18 hours per week.
Getting your "free" time under control now will help prepare you for managing that extra 20 hours a week come freshman year of college — when you'll need to study and want to socialize more than ever.
If you don't already, start using a daily planner. This could be a datebook you keep in your bag, an online version you maintain at home, or both. It's easy to over-schedule or "double-book" if we aren't careful. Manage your time wisely and you'll get the maximum out of each day.
If you've got them, great. If not — well, there's still time to develop them. Good study habits include these basics:
It's important to set goals, as long as they're attainable. Setting goals that are unreasonably high is a set-up — you'll be doomed to frustration and disappointment.
Listen to your teacher and stay focused. Be sure that you understand the lesson. If you don't understand something, ask questions! You've heard it before, but "the only dumb question is the one you don't ask" is absolutely true. If you've been paying attention, it definitely won't be a dumb question.
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