Juniors—Come on down!
If you have friends who are seniors, you see that their chaotic and stressful yet amazing and exciting 12th grade experiences are coming to a close… and yours is about to begin. I’m sure if those seniors had one piece of advice to give you about the college planning process, they’d say to start early.
So, juniors, it’s your turn.
As a college planner, I see many students who wait until the beginning of their senior years to think about college. Then, they call me in a panic, overwhelmed by the mountain of work that lies ahead of them. For those students, I reassure them that it’s not too late to begin the college search and admission process. However, I believe it makes a world of difference if juniors start now and use their time off in the summer to start climbing that mountain.
If you read my blogs, or know me personally, you know I’m a huge fan of to-do lists. They keep me on track, keep me motivated and keep me aware of my goals. I’ve come up with a to-do list for juniors that, if started early, will relieve a lot of stress and pressure from senior year.
First, use this time now to set up an internship, job shadowing opportunity or summer job that will allow you to experience a career field that you’re interested in. If you don’t know where to look for those opportunities, I can certainly help, or you can reach out to the career specialist or guidance counselors in your school. Getting first-hand knowledge about a career field is extremely beneficial because it will confirm your desire to choose it as a major when applying to colleges in the fall, or if you discover you don’t like that field, it gives you time to explore other options.
Second, start looking over college applications to get an idea of what they require. While many deadlines for the upcoming application period have not yet been announced, you can look at previous dates to get an idea of a timeline. Look over essay topics. Brainstorm ideas. Write a practice essay. Then, this summer, fill out an application to get ahead of the game. The Common Application is accepted by hundreds of colleges and is a good place to start.
Third, if you haven’t already done so, start making a college list. Research the schools. Read reviews. See if they offer the major you’re interested in. Learn as much as you can about that program. Many colleges will give out names of alumnus in your area who will share their experiences.
Once you’ve started that college list, then it’ll be time to visit campuses. I suggest visiting as many campuses before the summer begins as possible. If you go now, you’ll be able to see what the campus is like with an entire student body. Take a tour. Talk to students. Sit in on a class. Eat in the cafeteria. Meet with professors in your field of interest.
Before school lets out for the summer, start collecting reference letters from teachers who are familiar with your work and character. These will be required for many college applications and if you get them now, it’ll be one less thing you have to do in the fall.
The summer is also a great time to build your student resume by participating in extracurricular activities, to take the ACT/SAT, and to begin the scholarship search.
Landmark 12 Consulting assists with everything I’ve just mentioned. Our goal is to make the college admissions process as stress-free as possible, no matter where you are in that process.
With that being said, as Bob Barker would say: Juniors, come on down! But instead of The Price is Right, I’m changing it to The Time is Right (Now). So get started!