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12 things to know your junior year about college admissions

Your high school junior year can be a stressful time. You have a lot of school work and activities, but you also need to start planning for college applications. 

It can feel overwhelming to navigate the complex and competitive world of college applications and decisions. Don't worry, we've compiled a high school junior year checklist for college admissions. This will help you make informed decisions and set you up for success.

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1. Build a strong academic record

This may be obvious, but your grades are the most important factor in preparing for college admissions. Your junior year grades are important. They are the last full year of grades that will appear on your transcript.

Take challenging courses that interest you, but make sure to maintain a high GPA. Make time to study for your classes and stay focused. 

2. Start preparing for standardized tests

Many schools –  like Central Michigan – are test optional. Whether you plan to take the SAT, ACT, or both, it's important to start preparing early. Take a practice test to get a baseline score, and then focus on improving your standardized test scores.

Consider taking a test prep course, using online resources, or working with a tutor. Don’t stress out. Test scores are just one indicator of your readiness for college. 

3. Research colleges and universities and create a list

Begin by thinking about what you want in a college campus. Do you prefer a large or small school? Do you prefer urban or rural? What majors or programs interest you?

Use online resources, such as college search engines, to create a list of schools that match your criteria. Write them all down in a list and consider the pros and cons of each.

This will help you to rank and prioritize the schools you are most interested in visiting and applying to. Many students choose between about five colleges and universities. Make a college list of your favorite schools.

4. Plan college visits

The best way to see if a college campus is the right fit for you is to visit it. During your high school junior year, start planning visits to the schools on your list.

Attend information sessions, take a tour, and meet with admissions officers and faculty members. Use these visits as an opportunity to ask questions about financial aid, majors, and extracurricular activities. Plan to research college campuses in fall and visit in the spring. 

5. Attend college fairs

College fairs are another great way to learn about different colleges and ask questions. These events bring many different colleges and universities together in the same room so you can compare and ask questions. Research upcoming fairs in your area and attend as many as possible. Invite your parents or friends to go along with you.

Most fairs will take place in the fall, so plan to attend during that time. College fairs can also be a great place to meet your admissions rep. 

6. Get involved in extracurricular activities

College admissions officers look for students involved in their school and community. Participate in activities that interest you during your high school junior year. They will help you develop skills and leadership qualities.

Consider joining a sports team, an academic club, or even taking part in a service project. Be sure to take on extracurriculars that you can stick with through the entire year – don’t overburden yourself. Find activities that you are already interested in or that might correspond with your college major. 

7. Ask teachers for letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation can be important. Some colleges require them as part of your application, or you might need them for a private scholarship. Build positive relationships with your teachers and ask for letters well in advance of application deadlines. These letters can be very encouraging as well!

8. Consider early decision or early action

Early decision and early action programs can offer advantages, such as higher acceptance rates and earlier notification of decisions. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons before deciding to apply early. Applying earlier increases your chances of acceptance This will help you build momentum for your college career. 

9. Start drafting your personal statement

What are your reasons for going to college? What do you want to accomplish in your life and in your career? A personal statement is a critical part of the college application process. Use your high school junior year to start brainstorming ideas and drafting your essay.

Seek feedback from trusted adults, such as teachers or counselors. Your personal statement should include your values and your vision for yourself in the future. This can be a very motivating process. 

10. Research financial aid options

College can be expensive, but there are many financial aid options available. Research scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs to pay for college.

There are many private scholarships available for students – many even go unclaimed each year. Research online and ask your parents and your school guidance counselor about scholarships that might be available to you. 

11. Create a timeline

With so many deadlines to keep track of, it's important to create a timeline for college applications. Use a calendar to mark important dates, such as application deadlines and test dates. Make a priority list of the schools you are interested in attending and write down their important dates and deadlines. 

12. Seek guidance from trusted adults

The college admissions process can be overwhelming, but you don't have to go through it alone. Seek guidance from trusted adults, such as parents, teachers, and counselors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what to expect – and how you can make the most of it. 



The college admissions process can seem daunting, but by following these 12 tips, you can set yourself up for success.

Junior year is the perfect time to start thinking about college admissions. Make informed decisions that will help you achieve your goals. Remember to stay focused, stay organized, and seek guidance when needed. Good luck!

Starting your high school junior year and want to get a jumpstart on your admissions process? Meet with a Central Michigan admissions rep today. They can help you get on the right track. 

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Author: by University Communications | Categories: University Communications
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