No matter how far high school graduation may seem, it's never too early for college-bound juniors to start preparing. Using these (totally doable) tips, you can set yourself up for a smoother senior year, a stronger application, and a better decision-making process overall. Start here...
1. Consider your preferences. Small classes, or large lecture halls? A campus near a vibrant city, or in a quaint town? Determining what it is that you're looking for in a college will make your search easier from the start.
2. Plan your campus visits. By starting your campus visits early, you'll have plenty of time to return a second or third time as you get closer to making your decision.
3. Take on a leadership role. If you're already part of a team, club, or organization, make it your goal to land the captain's spot, become treasurer, or hold another position that demonstrates your potential for leadership.
4. Choose your courses. Speak with your guidance counselor about which courses you should take to fulfill your school's requirements and present a strong academic history on your application later on.
5. Shadow a professional. You don't have to know your intended major just yet, but if you're leaning toward one or two areas of study, test your fit by shadowing a current professional in that field.
6. Register (and take) standardized tests. According to CollegeBoard, half of all college-bound students take the SAT twice. Taking exams in your junior year leaves room in your schedule to retake them if you want to improve your scores.
7. Find a mentor. Have a favorite teacher, long-time coach, or a trusted guidance counselor? A mentor/mentee relationship can help you establish your career goals and possible majors, and may come in handy when you need a recommendation letter (optional at Becker).
9. Practice time management. Balancing assignments and other obligations is a skill you'll need to perfect in college. Start practicing now with post-it notes or weekly to-do lists.
10. Attend college fairs. You'll have the chance to talk to admissions reps, take away valuable information about the schools on your list, and you might even learn about a school you hadn't considered yet.
11. Volunteer. Dedicating your time to a cause or organization that's important to you shows you have a sense of responsibility. (Becker students perform more than 80,000 hours of community service each year!)
12. Inquire about summer opportunities at colleges. You'll get a better idea of what living on campus is like, and you'll have another experience to add to your application.
13. Organize your materials. Begin keeping folders for each of the schools you're interested in. As you collect more materials on campus visits, or as you complete your applications later on, you'll have a place to keep all of your documents and keep track of your progress.
14. Talk to your family. They can't make your college decision for you, but they may be able to offer up some insight about where they think you'd make a great fit.
16. Study hard. Your junior year is critical to admissions counselors; work hard to maintain your academic progress.
17. Get a part-time job. It's another way to practice your time management skills—and your money-saving skills. You'll be happy you did once you start college!
18. Narrow your college list. As you visit more schools and determine your top choices, continue to narrow down your list of schools that you're serious about applying to.
19. Find a test prep strategy that works for you. Enroll in a study group, a prep course, or get a tutor to help you prepare for your first round of standardized tests, or maximize your improvement on the second round.
20. Enjoy the journey. This is just the beginning of your college search, so try not to feel overwhelmed. Tackling these tasks now means you'll have a stronger application and more time to make your college decision in the long run.
Remember what we said about planning your campus visits early? Start at Becker!