A 10 Step Guide to the High School Junior's Spring

Junior year is a crucial period in your high school career. Many students name it as the hardest stretch of months to weather, but with appropriate preparation and a sense of the path ahead, it likewise rewards those students who truly apply themselves. Here are 10 things you must do this spring to ensure your success: 

1. Commit to your schoolwork

Your junior-year grades hold great importance in the college application process. Aim to excel, as they are the most recent complete record of your success in academia (as opposed to partial senior-year reports). They may affect your chances of admission and your likelihood of receiving financial aid.  

2. Organize your materials

AP exams, applications, coursework, and standardized tests all involve excess amounts of paperwork. As the demands on your time grow, preserve your peace of mind by identifying and employing an organizational system that you understand. Do not conclude your junior year by misplacing an important document. Here are 6 habits to help you become a more organized student.

3. Sit for the ACT/SAT

The spring is an ideal time to complete the ACT or SAT. By this point in the school year, you should possess the necessary knowledge to address each exam’s content. Review for the test, then select from April or June dates for the ACT and May or June dates for the SAT. These are some great ACT practice tests and SAT practice tests you can use to help you study.

4. Evaluate your ACT/SAT performance

When you receive your ACT or SAT results, decide whether they meet your expectations. If you did not reach your target score, determine whether or not that mark is still feasible in order to reach your college admission goals. If it is, schedule a second test date as early as possible for your senior year. This is some great information on how to analyze practice test results.

5. Conduct college research

The latter half of your junior year is the stage at which you should deepen your college search. Examine the specific qualities of each school including academics, financial aid, housing, and social aspects. You can then start to whittle your list to programs that truly interest you. 

6. Review extracurricular/volunteer experience

Your extracurricular activities and volunteer history are highly important components of your admissions package. Compile a list of your involvement thus far and decide whether you would like to augment it with additional opportunities. If so, seek those chances now—not solely in your senior year. 

7. Determine your recommenders

Countless students in your graduating class will eventually require recommendation letters. Identify the individuals who are best equipped to discuss your application and approach them as soon as possible. A request with ample time to complete it will be better received than a last-minute plea.

8. Start your application essay

Once you begin to narrow your list of prospective colleges, consider drafting your personal statement for the schools that interest you most. Often, elite colleges utilize unique prompts and specific guidelines, and it is wise to budget several months to allow multiple revisions for each. These are 6 application essay mistakes you will want to make sure you avoid.

9. Choose your senior classes

As you develop your academic schedule for senior year, do so with an eye toward balance. Like juniors, seniors have a number of responsibilities to attend to. Opt for AP and dual-enrollment courses, but do not overburden yourself in your final year of high school either.

10. Ace AP exams

AP tests take place over two weeks in May. Scores of 4 and 5—and occasionally 3—are very likely to result in college credit or waived curriculum requirements. Succeeding on those exams is in your best interest (and your parents’ wallets’!). Just as you do with the ACT or SAT, prepare accordingly.