Updated: Feb 22
Congratulations! You’ve either made it to junior year in high school or will be starting soon. The journey likely hasn’t been straightforward, and you’ve heard (correctly) that junior year will have a BIG impact on your college acceptances.
With that in mind, this article will explore the five things high school juniors need to do to prepare for college admissions!
Our Article Will Cover The Following:
1. Earn Excellent Grades
The top entry on our list isn’t new or even that exciting; you already know good grades are an important piece of college admissions.
If you are aiming for acceptance to any college in the Top 50 of US News and World Reports, you will need to earn mostly As (some A-s may be okay) during your junior year. Bs of any type, especially during junior year, are red flags for highly selective colleges.
2. Know Your Teachers
This recommendation is included because it can be easily and often forgotten, especially if you attend a large high school. Typically, you will need to submit two letters of recommendation from teachers for your college application. One should be from a STEM teacher and one should be from a humanities teacher.
Knowing your teachers and having them know you both in and outside of class is always important, especially for high school juniors.
Note that the advice to “know your teachers” doesn’t require more than remembering to say “Good morning Ms. Smith, how was your weekend?” or sending an e-mail of appreciation.
For example, “Hi Ms. Smith, thanks for a great class today – I really enjoyed X, and it got me thinking more about Y.”
Regardless of whether you realize it, these seemingly small, routine acts on a regular basis can really go a long way to developing your rapport and relationship with your teachers.
When it comes time to ask your teachers for letters of recommendation, you will be glad you took a few extra minutes each week to engage with your teachers – if you did – they’ll likely jump at the opportunity to write you a strong letter of recommendation!
While this specific advice is presented for your college applications, it is also good, general life advice to engage with others, take time to ask how they are doing, and say “thank you” when appropriate.
3. Create and Execute a Testing Strategy and Score Goal
Although the pandemic temporarily suspended the testing requirement for high school seniors applying in 2020, for any other student planning to apply to selective or highly selective colleges, strong testing will be required for your college applications.
In this context, strong testing is within the middle 50% of previously accepted students at an individual college.
4. Start, Continue or Expand on Community Service
Starting your junior year on community service isn’t ideal, though it is far better to start late than never, so if you haven’t already begun, hop to it! Hopefully, you have already been engaged in a long-standing community service project.
If so, now is the time to consider how you will create your legacy within the organization and/or expand your impact. To do this, you’ll want to “zoom out” or take a look at your community service engagement from the 10,000-foot level.
What would you change about the organization if you could?
What would it take to change it?
What might you be able to try to work towards this goal?
5. Begin to Develop Your Story for Your College Applications
Of all the advice presented on our list, this recommendation is perhaps the least straightforward. However, it is a critical consideration for all juniors who will be applying to college next year.
College admissions officers have a very limited amount of time to review your application and you want to stand out when they do. There are tens of thousands of students applying with your same numerical GPA, testing, number of APs, etc.
All high school juniors should consider how they will make their college applications memorable. Create a unique story for yourself and consider how you want to present your application.
Remember that in all cases, you want to present yourself in a way that makes the admissions officer advance your application to the final committee and then ultimately select YOU among the other very qualified applicants.
Suppose you’ve reviewed all of the above and are feeling confident about your work; that’s terrific! Keep plugging along until application season.
If you’ve reviewed the above and have any questions, you may want to consider working with a college consultant or advisor to help prepare your overall profile.
Since everyone has limited time and every situation is unique, a college admissions consultant can work with you to ensure you are using your time wisely to build and polish your college admissions profile in the months leading up to your college applications.
Working with a private admissions consultant or college advisor can be particularly helpful around the final recommendation of developing your own unique story.
If you are curious to learn about our services more, contact a team member to discuss how our consultants can help prepare you now as a junior to make your college applications stand out as a senior.