This blog post is part of a series that will help you as you apply to colleges. Today, we’ll talk about things you, as a junior, might find helpful before you start applying to schools and some helpful things to keep in mind throughout the school year.
Are you late to the party and want to know what’s going on? Start here.
This post is relevant to you if you are a rising junior or currently in your junior year of high school. Or, if you’re a rising senior and are getting up to speed with the college process.
Important things to remember as a junior
- This is your last full year of grades that colleges will see and that is a very important piece of your college application.
- It’s important to build relationships with your favorite teachers and counselors. They’re the ones who will help you with letters of recommendation and review your college essays.
What you need to figure out before applying to colleges
When it comes to applying to colleges, most of your junior year is about discovery. You’ll do a lot of thinking about who you are as a human being, what you care about, the types of people you want to surround yourself with and the environment that you thrive in.
Who are you?
Not trying to trigger an existential crisis, but it will help you in the discovery phase of applying to colleges if you have an idea about who you are and what you like. This will help you narrow down your focus to campuses that will be a good fit for you. This is not a time to fake it or follow your boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend/crush to the school of their dreams. End up somewhere you love.
You don’t have to have it all figured out, obviously. You have a good amount of time to decide if you want to be a teacher or an accountant or a competitive air guitar player. No worries.
It’ll just help (in the college search and when you have to write the college essay) if you know or have ideas about the following:
- What are your likes and interests?
- What do you care about? Are there any social causes or problems in the world you want to fix?
- If you had no homework (or other responsibilities) and two-hours of free time, how would you spend it?
- How do you spend your time outside school?
- What/who makes you happy?
- What/Who can you not live without?
What should you major in during college?
That’s probably the biggest question you need to answer when you’re a junior in high school.
Take some time to think about the following:
- What are your favorite school subjects?
- What subjects do you do well in? For example, would you rather crush a crazy math problem or write an essay?
- What types of projects did you enjoy and were proud of?
- What do you want to do with your life after school?
- It’s ok if you don’t know for sure, but knowing the field that interests you is a good starting point. It’s not 100% necessary to say something specific like, “I want to be a graphic designer for a foodie magazine that specializes in cooking with beets.” But it’s a good starting place to know that you’re interested in art.
- What will give you the most job security?
Talking to the people who know you is another way to figure out your major in college. Get advice from your family, friends, teachers and guidance counselors.
They want you to succeed.
Even if they seem bossy or overdemanding, it’s in your best interests to at least listen and consider what the people who know you best think. But also know yourself. There’s always going to be a need in the world for doctors, but it’s going to be impossible to get through classes if you’re afraid of blood.
Oh, and if you don’t know what to major in and it doesn’t make itself clear, that’s OK. Tons of students enroll as undecided majors across the country each year. Many choose a major, then switch. College is about exploration, so if you aren’t 100% sure on a major, you’re fine.
What is your ideal college environment?
A college’s atmosphere, feel and environment contribute heavily to your success in college.
Programs, location and price are dominant themes in the college decision process. However, environment and campus culture are just as important, so be sure you learn what each campus is like. You’re going to be there day in and day out for a good amount of time. Make sure you like the vibe there!
Take some time to think about what you are looking for in a college:
- What size school would you be comfortable with?
- Do you prefer a smaller campus that feels size-wise like your high school with a smaller, quaint setting or do you flourish from the opportunities that come from being in places with large groups of people?
- What kind of campus vibe are you looking for?
- Do you want a campus that’s in an urban, suburban or rural location? Location determines how students spend their weekends and the activities they do.
- How far from home do you want to travel?
- Keep in mind that if you travel far from home, you’ll only be able to realistically see your family on long weekends or holidays. Also, if you get sick, your parents won’t be able to hop on a plane to take care of you. Now, it’s not all bad. Moving to a different area opens you to new environments, culture and people. It’s a great way to expand your horizon and try something new.
- How important are sports to you? Do you want to participate in the NCAA college sports hype?
Do you know your school counselor or college counselor?
They are an invaluable resource as you work your way through the college admissions process. Your junior year is the time to introduce yourself and get to know them.
They’re the ones on the front lines building relationships with college admissions counselors and they know the ins-and-outs of many colleges and universities that you might not be familiar with. Developing a relationship with them will allow them to give you insight into schools that will be a good fit for you.
That’s the gist of everything you, as a junior, should think about before you start the college admissions process. In the next post, we’ll go over some tips and services available on campus to help you choose a major and figure out what you’re passionate about.