5 Ways Juniors Can Get a Head Start Preparing for College
It’s No Secret That High School Students Need To Start Their College Applications Early...
But, how early is too early? Your child’s freshman or sophomore year of high school may be a little early to start, but their senior year is definitely a little too late. So, if you want your child to get the most out of their high school experience while still preparing for college, they should aim to start their applications during their junior year of high school.
High school juniors do themselves a big favor by getting a head start on preparing for college. By getting all the tedious work and research out of the way early, they open themselves up to have more free time during their senior year and to finish high school on a positive note!
The Race To Apply For College
Junior year is arguably one of the most fun years of a high school student’s experience. They’re not quite seniors, so they don’t have to worry about deadlines, final GPAs, or all the excitement surrounding graduation. But, they have the upperclassmen status of a junior, and have access to nearly all the same college prep resources that seniors do.
Juniors should take advantage of their third year in high school by getting a head start on their college application process. Seniors usually have very busy schedules, and burnout is common among students who try to juggle their senior activities while completing their college applications in time. Fortunately, by looking toward the college application process early, your student will reduce the possibility of senior year burnout and start their final year of high school well-prepared for the challenges ahead.
How High School Juniors Can Prepare For College
The way that your high school junior prepares for college isn’t too different from how a senior would prepare; they’re simply doing the tedious work a year in advance. A great benefit for high school juniors beginning this process early is the absence of a time crunch. Your child has their junior year to take their time on research, college visits, and meetings with their counselor.
Encourage them to take their time and to remember to stay focused on their junior year classes and activities. Getting a head start on their college application process will only be beneficial if they can manage it along with their priorities.
MAKE A PLAN WITH YOUR COLLEGE COUNSELOR
Before high school juniors begin anything college related, they should sit down with their college counselor and discuss the best way for them to get ahead on this process. After all, college counselors are one of the most helpful tools that high school students can use, especially juniors and seniors.
Counselors have useful resources and connections that students won’t be able to find on their own. Plus, they can give your student a different perspective on their head start approach. The plan that your child develops with their school counselor will be the most effective one you can get, since they can tailor the plan to your child’s schedule, interests, and even give helpful input on what kind of colleges to look for based on GPA and test scores.
DEVELOP YOUR REACH, SAFETY, TARGET LISTS
After they meet with their counselor, your child should begin researching the colleges they’re interested in applying for or visiting. The best way that students can organize the colleges they find is by dividing them into three categories: reach, safety, and target. By clearly outlining the schools that catch their eye, they’ll save themselves loads of organizing down the road.
Putting their prospective colleges on different lists helps students whittle down their options, so that they’re not wasting their time on too many college applications. Students should invest their time and money in applications to schools that they’re passionate about. Applications can sometimes take several months to complete, and application fees are expensive when they add up! You want to make sure that your child is only applying to colleges that are their top choices, and that they have plenty of time to prioritize those colleges during their junior year.
PLAN OUT YOUR COLLEGE FINANCES
Another time-consuming task that students can take care of during their junior year is developing their college finances plan. Finances can directly tie into their reach, safety, and target lists; you’ll want to make sure that your child is applying to colleges that are well within their budget. Students should also scope out schools where they’ll be eligible for financial aid like scholarships, grants, or loans.
The best way you can help your child plan out their college finances is to fill out the FAFSA and provide them with your household’s income information. This will help them know what kind of financial aid they should look for as well as what colleges they should include on their reach, safety, and target list.
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE COMMON APP
The Common App is the most universally used application platform by colleges. Only a few colleges in the U.S. still use their own personal application system, so if your child is planning to apply to college, you can bank on them using the Common App for at least one.
Encourage your child to familiarize themselves with the Common App by creating an account and researching the colleges that they can apply to using the platform. They can even make their reach, safety, and target lists directly on the website to stay organized.
Another inevitable part of the process, and probably one of the most important, is the college application essay. The college application essay has a unique purpose; it’s one of the only chances that a student has to be themselves and give college admission officers a glimpse into their personal life and goals.
Getting accepted into college is an enormous accomplishment, and taking full advantage of the college application essay is one of the best ways your child can ensure that they’re giving college admission officers the best representation of themselves. Your child should utilize free practice essays to refine their essay-writing skills. The Common App releases new essay prompts so students can begin writing their personal statement as soon as they’re ready.
Looking Forward To College As A Junior
Junior year is the perfect time for your child to begin preparing for their college applications. Getting a head start on tedious tasks like planning out college finances and refining essay-writing skills are time-consuming, and the earlier students can start on these, the better. Seniors often have difficulty balancing out their class work with their college applications, and this often leads to burnout. Juniors can greatly reduce the amount of planning they’ll have to do during their senior year by taking care of it early.
From establishing a plan with their college counselor to familiarizing themselves with widely used college application platforms, they’ll be doing themselves a huge favor and decreasing the amount of work they’ll have to do senior year. This will allow them to fully enjoy their senior and end high school energized and well-prepared for college.
Of course, if you or your child have any doubts or questions regarding how they can prepare for college early, they shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to one of WeAdmit’s professional counselors. Our counselors are pros at early preparation, and they’re standing by to answer any questions you or your child may have!
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