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Junior year checklist: It helps to begin your senior year with a plan

BY KRISTEN MOON | MOON PREP*

Junior year is a turning point for many families because it marks the year when college planning activities begin to consume your free time. It helps to go into your senior year with a plan, so start now to ensure that you are not falling behind.

Spring Of Your Junior Year

Meet With Your Counselor

Make sure you will complete all the requisites for your diploma. Take full advantage of the classes offered by your high school and schedule a rigorous course load.

Check on your class rank and your current GPA. If you haven’t performed as well as you had hoped the first two years of high school, it is not too late to change that. An upward trend in grades is something colleges like to see.

Standardized Tests

During the beginning of the semester, look up testing dates and locations for the SAT and or ACT. The tests are typically offered about once a month during the school year. Signing up for both can give you an advantage because you can decide which one highlights your strengths.

College Visits

Begin to narrow down your college selection and schedule visits to your top choices for the summer. Make sure those colleges fit the most important qualifications to you – size, location, cost, majors, or any special programs that are of interest.

Letter of Recommendations

Most schools require you to submit at least one or two Letters of Recommendations (LOR) from a teacher or guidance counselor. Additional letters can be written by a manager, a club leader, coach, or anyone you have formed a close relationship with recently. Begin to gather the material you will give each person to help them write the best LOR possible.

SAT Subject Tests

Start to do more research about what they require for admission, such as SAT Subject Tests. There are four policies regarding Subject Tests: required, recommended, considered, and alternative. If it is financially feasible for you to take the SAT Subject Tests, and schools on your list either require or recommend it, you can sign up and prepare for them in the spring and summer.

A small number of colleges have the policy that Subject Tests can act as an alternative to standardized testing; they allow an applicant to submit Subject Test scores in lieu of ACT and SAT scores.

FAFSA

Once you narrow down your college list, go to their websites to find out how much it costs per year to go there. Get to know the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even though you can’t fill out the FAFSA until October 1 of your senior year, you can start to gather the necessary materials.

The Summer After Your Junior Year

The summer should be your time to get a headstart on your application process. Check out the Common Application to see their selection of essays and begin working on them as soon as possible.

Resume and LinkedIn

The Common Application has a limited character count for extracurricular descriptions, therefore, your resume can be used to expand on your accomplishments.

Your LinkedIn profile should be your online portfolio that adds another dimension to your application. You want to include videos, pictures, research papers, and anything else that can help to humanize you to the admissions staff.

The second semester of your junior year is an essential time for preparing for college. By starting early, you can put together a stronger application that might help you get into your dream college.

*About the author:

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. Moon Prep provides one-on-one tutoring services catered to university admissions. They guide students through the entire application process including: completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student resumes, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.

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