Make the Most of Your Junior Year

Your junior year of high school is an exciting time for sure. You may be eagerly awaiting summer (especially if you’re in frigid Minnesota like me) or anticipating your opportunity to rule the school as a senior. But you may want to start looking even further out. Your final semester of your junior year is actually the perfect time to start preparing to apply to your dream school.

Let’s look at what you can do to put yourself in the best position as you transition from your junior to senior year.

Finish strong academically. While summer may be calling you, remember that your junior year is perhaps the most important when it comes to academics.

Consider gaps. Your junior year is the best time to get introspective and consider all the experience you have—or what you might be missing—before you apply for college. Perhaps you haven’t been very involved in extracurriculars or your grades weren’t great when you started high school. Maybe you’re missing community involvement or volunteering experience. If you discover gaps now, you have time to address them before your senior year.

Participate in extracurricular activities. Your academic performance is one element that college admissions counselors will be looking at, but they’ll also be looking at the full picture of what makes you an ideal candidate for their school. Participating in clubs, sports, and other extracurricular activities gives you another chance to shine. If you haven’t been very involved to date, it’s not too late! There are tons of opportunities at school or in your community. So, find something you’re into and take the leap to get involved.

Look into scholarships. If you think you might qualify for a scholarship, it’s smart to start now. Start researching your options. Even if you think you won’t qualify for an academic scholarship, there are other routes to scholarship money, including essay scholarships on any number of topics. If you think an essay scholarship is right for you but need help getting started, MN College Essay Coach is here for you.

Ask for letters of recommendation. Your junior year is the best time to ask for letters of recommendation. This gives people time to write a thoughtful, high-quality recommendation. The number of recommendations you’ll need will vary by school, so be sure to look at the requirements for the schools you’re thinking about applying to in fall. Typically, colleges want to see letters from teachers or counselors, but some schools may have more specific requirements, so be sure to start looking now. Additionally, if you’ve already begun thinking about how you’ll tell your story in your college essays, you can ask your references to help highlight some of the key messages you’re planning to share.

Make the most of your summer as you prepare for your senior year – and know what to expect in fall. Summer is full of opportunity. In addition to getting introspective as you prepare to write your college essays, it’s also an opportunity to further flesh out your experience with community service or a part-time job. Once fall hits, it’ll be all systems go. Starting in September, you can check out free resources like my key messages worksheet, essay writing webinar, and more. September is also a great time to reach out to me because you’ll want to draft your key messages. If you’re shooting for the November early application deadline, you’ll want to be writing your essays and getting feedback by October at the latest. If you’re not planning to apply until the standard deadline (typically January, but this varies), you have until December to start writing.

If any of the above looks overwhelming or if you just need an expert set of eyes to help you make sure you’re positioning yourself in the best possible light, schedule a free intro call with MN College Essay Coach. I’m here to make the process painless—and productive.

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