Top 3 Goals for High School Juniors

The following piece was written by Shannon Duff. Shannon has been featured in our Admissions Expert series and is a former Yale University admissions officer. She is also the founder of Collegiate Compass.

As students prepare college applications, they must be focused on telling their story and showcasing what stands out about them!

Now is the time when students are CREATING and GROWING in ways that will help them stand out through their academics, extracurricular activities, and summer activities.

Let’s say you are an 11th grader who is passionate about drums and science. What are you planning this summer? Why not try a summer program related to the sciences at a university in which you’re interested? Are you in a band? If not, why not start one with some friends this summer so you can share your drumming with others?

Here are some spring tips, especially relevant to juniors:


Set grade goals now for this semester! Once you write down specific letter grades, think about what it will take to achieve these goals; do you want to also add the goal of meeting with a teacher each week? This can be helpful for your teacher recommendations, which are very important!


Is there a way you can develop one of your extracurricular activities in a new way this spring? For instance, let’s say that you are a member of the Business Club at your school—is there a speaker that you want to invite? Or a field trip that you can help plan? All these things will help you to further explore your interests and will be helpful to include on the resume or activities list that you send to colleges.


There are so many exciting possibilities for the summer! One thing that you definitely need to build in is some down time! Don’t plan to shuttle from summer program to program! Spend some time being a teenager. If you have the opportunity, it would be great to attend a summer program focused on one of your interests—academic or otherwise! Whether it is at a local college or abroad, it is a tremendous chance to learn in a new environment!  Jobs and internships are also helpful ways to explore your interests and potential major ideas. Honestly, when I was reading applications for Yale, I saw classic summer jobs like scooping ice cream as showing that a student was responsible and grounded. So, your summer plans don’t have to be fancy —but do plan ahead!


Visit Collegiate Compass for more information.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.