Junior year is an important time in the college admission process. Although our formal college counseling program does not begin until February of the junior year, there are a number of things you should be aware of and doing before that time. The following is a college admissions calendar for the junior year. Read it carefully so that you are informed about what to do and what is available to you as you go through this important year in high school.
* Concentrate on doing well in your classes. Remember that junior and senior year grades are often weighed more heavily than freshman and sophomore year grades in the college admission process.
* Begin thinking about preferences in colleges such as location, size, liberal arts or technical emphasis, coed or single-sex, activities available, majors available, cost, etc.
* Do a general search using criteria you've set for yourself on college information websites:
- Use the links on the left hand side of this page
* Take the PSAT. Although you may have taken it sooner, for practice, the junior year scores may qualify you for National Merit Semifinalist status and make you eligible for possible National Merit scholarships. Mark on your PSAT answer sheet that you wish to receive materials from colleges, and schools will send you information if your PSAT score suggests that you would qualify for admission.
* The College Counseling Staff will meet with your parents in February to introduce the college counseling process. Although our individual meetings with students won't begin until late January, this meeting is designed to give your family a head start on planning your college search.
* The ISU College Counseling Website and Naviance will be available for you to work on during the holiday break. This is a great way for you to begin articulating your interests, strengths and goals.
* PSAT scores will be mailed to you the third week of the month. Estimate your SAT score from the handbook. Establish what areas you need to work on and organize a study routine to improve those areas.
* Enjoy having a break from school!
* Start the second semester working hard in your classes. Strong second-semester grades may be a key factor in an admission decision. Remember admission committees often weigh junior and senior year grades more heavily than grades you earned earlier in high school.
* You will get mail from colleges based on your PSAT scores. Read the college catalogs thoroughly from the schools you find most interesting. They contain a great deal of information and will help you narrow down your choices.
* Plan college visits for later in the spring. Colleges offer information sessions and tours year round, but the spring is one of the most popular times to visit, so sessions and tours book up early. You will find more flexibility and access if you plan in advance - especially if you plan to visit colleges during spring break.
* Complete the junior questionnaire. This is your ticket to your meeting with the college counselor.
* Schedule your first individual meeting with the college counselor to discuss what you are looking for in a college (size, location, academic program, etc.) and your high school record, PSAT scores, activities, and personal and academic strengths and weaknesses. From this discussion, you and your college counselor will develop a list of colleges (usually between 15 and 20) that meet your interests and are appropriate for your profile.
* Between now and the end of the school year, parents may schedule a meeting with the college counselor as well. We encourage all parents to take an active role in your college search and application process.
* Plan college visits. The spring sessions and tours book up early. You will find more flexibility and access if you plan in advance - especially if you plan to visit colleges during spring break.
* Register for the March/April SAT. We strongly urge all juniors to take the Spring SAT or the ACT.
* We strongly urge all juniors to take the March/April test. You may wish to take the ACT.
* Continue to gather information and evaluate colleges you are considering.
* Attend any spring college fairs and evening programs held at area hotels and high schools that catch your eye.
* Register for the May and/or June SAT Reasoning or Subject Tests.
* You may take SAT Subject Tests, or take the SAT Reasoning Test for a second time if you wish. Determine which subject tests are recommended by the colleges you are considering. Ask the college counselor if you have any questions.
* Take AP exams if you are in AP courses.
* You may take the SAT Reasoning Test a second time, particularly if you are not satisfied with your score or you are considering applying under an early decision plan; or take the SAT Subject Tests if you did not do so in May and the colleges on your list recommend or require Subject Tests.
* If you feel your SAT Reasoning Test score could improve with some studying and/or tutoring, the summer is a good time to work on SAT skills.
* Register for the June ACT test if you wish to take that test over the summer.
Summer between Your Junior and Senior Years
* Visit college campuses in which you are interested, recognizing that you may need to return to some campuses when they are in session to get a complete view of the schools.
* Most college websites will have a schedule of tours and information about making an appointment.
* Research the schools on your list you developed with your college counselor. Try to narrow your list to fewer than 10 schools that meet your criteria and accept students with your profile.
* Request application materials from the colleges on your list. You may do this online or by calling the Office of Admission.
* Plan to attend summer programs: camp, sports, travel, volunteer or enrichment programs. Petersons (www.petersons.com) is a great website resource for finding summer programs. Colleges often ask you to write about your summer experiences in an essay or describe them in an interview.
* If you are not satisfied with your standardized test results, use the summer months to hone your testing skills in a regimented fashion. You could use a tutor or use test prep materials on your own.
* Begin brainstorming about possible college essay topics and get some words down on paper.
Please refer to the college counseling handbook for more detailed information about the college search process. Also, the college counselor welcomes your questions any time.