Junior year is stressful, and that stress stretches into the first semester of senior year as students struggle to prepare for standardized testing and college applications. Despite that stress, junior year is an amazing time to immerse yourself in different experiences and learn more about yourself through internships, extra-curricular activities, and various programs. Here are some tips on how to prepare for the college application season and be prepared for your senior year of high school.
I remember stressing over college applications and my future in general just a couple of months ago. I read countless articles just like this one in pursuit of information. My goal was not to regret anything later down the road. Through people and articles, I received a lot of helpful information. I also missed a lot of deadlines, but I learned from my mistakes. My hope is that this article can offer you some tips for preparing for your senior year and college applications in general. One disclaimer would be that this is not a complete guide. There will always be other information out there, so do not limit yourself to the tips outlined in this article.
As you finish up your junior year of high school, you will be taking the SAT, ACT and AP Exams. Despite your busy schedule and responsibilities, the end of junior year is an important time to start applying for summer jobs, internships, and programs.
Research and Sign up for Summer Programs:
Summer programs could give you amazing experiences and enhance your college application. Many colleges offer programs that immerse you into a topic of your interest and give you a feel for the school. Remember that deadlines are often early, so do not miss out an opportunity by not starting your search early.
Here a couple of links for lists of popular summer programs:
Start Job and Internship Applications Early:
As soon as summer hits, many students rush to find a job. Last summer, I was in the same situation. I wanted to build some responsibility and use my summer wisely. What I failed to do is start applying for jobs before school ended. If you know that you have time to commit to a job during the summer, it may be helpful to keep an eye out for open summer positions early on. Some summer positions may open up from late February to early March.
An easy way to get a summer job is to attend a job fair for high school and college students. Local park districts and grocery stores often hold job fairs targeting temporary job applicants.
When your searching for a summer job, any job seems ideal when it is well-paying and enjoyable. However, it may be helpful to look around for internship opportunities. Finding an internship is harder than finding a job at a local park district, but it can help you learn more about a potential career and gain invaluable experience. To find an internship, you might want to start looking at local laboratories, offices, or firms that are looking for interns. It might be even more helpful to speak with your teachers. Companies often reach out to schools when they are looking for help over the summer. Teachers and counselors are awesome resources that can guide you towards amazing opportunities.
Take a Summer Class:
Although it may not sound appealing to go back to school during your break, taking a college class at your local community college is always an option. Many courses are available for credit for subjects like Science or English. Although credit courses are pricey, taking community college courses will save you money in the long run. Last summer, I took a five-week English class at my local community college. The class helped me get a good feel for a college class and build important writing skills. Remember that college applications entail a lot of writing. Therefore, a summer English class or short program might be helpful.
If you are interested in taking a course over the summer, you may want to talk to your high school counselor for advice on a course you could take. If you do not want to commit to a semester-long college course, you may want to take a small writing class or immersion course designed for high school students. If a summer class sounds too stressful, you can still build strong writing skills by spending some free time reading. Reading a book every week or month can pay dividends in improving your vocabulary and writing skills.
Start Researching Colleges:
Summer is an amazing time to start creating lists of colleges that interest you. This can be daunting when you do not have all of your standardized testing scores finalized, but it can be fun to learn about the amazing institutions out there. There are many ways to research colleges and create lists. One way is to use websites like the CollegeBoard that provide matching tools. Another way is by looking up colleges that specialize in your interests or potential major.
When creating a list of institutions that interest you, it may be easier to organize colleges by categories such as Safety, Target, and Reach. Then, you can create sub-categories outlining features of each college that stand out to you. As you receive your test scores and create plans for applying, a good organization can help you decide which schools to apply to.
Look up College Essay Prompts:
If you have a couple of schools that you want to apply to, it may be helpful to look up previous prompts. This can give you a feel for the type of essays you will be writing. To go further in your preparations, you can write out a few short essays. Although you might not have a certain prompt, essays are easily recyclable. You can later paraphrase ideas that you have written out. In general, any writing practice can help you later on. When your senior begins, you can quickly start on your essays and give it to some teachers to look over.
Give your Mind a Break:
There are a lot of important tasks to get done before your senior year but do not forget the essence of summer: To have FUN. Make sure to take some time for you and enjoy the time off from school. Do not stress yourself out with college applications and standardized scores. Instead, try to feel in control of your plans and prepare for your future in the best way possible.
This list is not by any means complete. My hope is that it can guide you towards some helpful sources and reduce the obscurity behind preparing for your senior year of high school.