Juniors: How to Get on Track with College Prep Before Summer Break

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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IvyWise On-Demand: Class of 2025 College Application Primer With Former Admissions Directors

After three years of hard work, it is almost time for the Class of 2025 to apply to college! But what comes next? Join IvyWise college admissions counselors Judy and Tasha for a deep dive into the college application process and how you can set yourself up for success as you look ahead to the 2024-2025 college admissions cycle.

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Junior year is a busy time for students, and arguably one of the most critical college prep years. There’s only a little bit of time left before summer break and juniors are suddenly rising seniors and ready to start applying to college. There’s a lot that juniors can do between now and then to prepare and get on track with their college prep.

Meet with Your Counselor

First and foremost, if you haven’t already, make time to meet with your college counselor. Your college counselor is a great resource to help you figure out where you need to be with your prep and what you can do now to ensure that you’re prepared come next fall. Your college counselor can also help you with identifying schools for your balanced college list, help you adjust your test prep plan if needed, and more. This is also the time to consider getting outside help from an independent college counselor if you need additional support.

Work on Your College List and Visit! 

After you have a chance to meet with your college counselor, you need to start putting the final touches on your balanced college list. Hopefully you’ve already started your school research, but if you haven’t, now is the time to really dive in so that you can get your list finalized ASAP. Creating a balanced college list of reach, target, and safety schools is one of the most important aspects of the college application process. Narrow your options to 12-15 schools based on location, size, academic program offerings, campus life, and any other factors that are meaningful to you — each college on your list should be a good academic and social fit.

College visits are an extremely important part of the college admissions process, so if you haven’t had the chance to visit your top-choice schools, or have just seen one or two, aim to visit as many as you can before the semester is over. Don’t just jump in the car and drive, either! Take time to plan your visit, register for the official information session and campus tour, and more.

Learn how to make the most of college visits with our IvyWise college admissions counselors.

Review Your Test Prep Plan

In conjunction with reviewing and expanding your balanced college list, you need to know admission and testing requirements for each school and how your academic and testing profile compares to that of previously admitted students. If you’ve already taken the SAT or ACT and want to improve your score, now is the time to identify a late spring or summer test date to prepare for. Adjust your test prep plan accordingly and enlist the help of an expert tutor if needed.

Plan a Productive Summer 

We can’t stress this enough — colleges like seeing students spending their summer breaks productively. If you don’t have a plan for the summer yet, now is the time to think about it! Many college-based summer program deadlines have passed, but you can still look for opportunities. This can be as simple as volunteering at a local organization teaching music lessons, finding a relevant internship, or even continuing one of your current activities into the summer months. Get creative with your summer plans!

Don’t Forget About Your Apps!

In addition to having a productive summer, you will also need to make a plan for your college applications. Current juniors can get a head start by creating a Common App account and filling out their personal information — you can even start working on your personal statement. When the Common App opens on August 1, students will be able to roll over all their existing information and start on their supplements as college start releasing them. This is a good time to discuss some of your essay ideas with your college counselor and get a head start on your writing since the Common App has already announced the prompts for 2024-25.

Here are some resources to help you with your personal statement and supplemental essays:

Think About Your Senior Class Schedule

Many students think that only the first semester of 12th grade will be important, but you must avoid “senioritis” at all costs — the rigor of your senior year courses and the grades you receive in those courses count! In addition to maintaining strong grades, it is also important to push yourself by taking challenging courses your final year of high school; hard work and dedication will pay off in the long run. Keep this in mind as you build next year’s schedule.

However, remember that while you want to be challenged, you also want to make sure your course load is manageable given your schedule and academic ability. Many colleges and universities will provide a list of courses that students should take in high school. You can research the high school academic requirements for the schools on your college list to make sure you are meeting those requirements.

Even if you got a late start with your college planning, there’s still a lot that juniors can do between now and summer break to get on track. IvyWise can provide additional guidance during this time and help juniors finalize their balanced college list, develop a testing plan to finishing up SAT/ACT prep, provide suggestions for summer experiences, brainstorm essay topics, and more. Now is the time to get started, so contact us today for more information on our college counseling services.

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