You're a Junior. What Should You Be Doing?

You're a Junior. What Should You Be Doing?

By Corinne

Juniors, the time has come. This is the year you'll start taking AP courses, realize that high school is more than halfway over, and come to grips with the fact that, yes, unfortunately, you really do have to take the SAT. That's right: this is the year when you'll get serious about your college search.

Here's what you need to do this year:

1. Figure out what you want.

I cannot overemphasize how important it is for you to know what YOU want. Ask yourself lots and lots of questions about your wants and needs:

--Do I want to keep playing [soccer/cricket/lacrosse/ping pong/lute] in college?
--What kind of school really appeals to me? (Co-ed vs. single sex, small vs. big, in-state vs. out-of-state, private vs. public, liberal arts, Division I, II, and III, etc.)
--Do I want to go to a school in or near a city?
--What the heck am I good at, and could that turn into a career?
--Do I want to stay close to home?

As much as you can, establish definite answers to all of these questions.

2. Visit!

Research colleges you may be interested in (start with local institutions and big name universities you're familiar with) and register to attend their fall open houses.

--Take notes after you leave every single campus. Record everything—your favorite part of campus, your least favorite building, your impression of the students, reasons you can/can't see yourself going here, etc. Taking notes is a REQUIREMENT (well...we'll have to go on the honor system, but trust me, I'm requiring through the computer) because by the time you begin applying to colleges in one year, you will completely forget what ___ State looked like or was all about. --Have fun with this! Think of it as a summer road trip and a day to spend outside enjoying the weather. The tours are great exercise, too

3. Commit seriously to preparing for the SAT and/or ACT.

--Maybe you've purchased a book by this point; it is now crunch time (aka time to open the darn thing).

4. Build your resume.

--This is the year to build your curriculum vitae! Join a club, volunteer, diversify yourself. Colleges want the well-rounded student, not just the straight A braniac. A's are good, but if you can maintain an A- along with 5 extracurriculars, now THAT is impressive!

--Challenge yourself. Push the envelope with an AP course, or run for Key Club president. You'll be amazed at your abilities when you strive just a little bit more each year. Every bit of added extra effort IS noticed!

Got a question for Corinne? Email her at advice@sparknotes.com.

Topics: admissions, Test Prep, juniors, college visits

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