Don’t be fooled into thinking you can wait until your last year in school to start planning for college. As a junior, you have some important things to get started on as your high school career enters its twilight stages.
As you start your junior year, you’ll find you need to take the PSAT or the NMSQT. These scores can even help you with the SAT process. In the spring of your junior year, you’ll take your ACT, your SAT and your SAT subject tests. Score requirements vary from school to school, so make sure you know what scores your prospective schools require. If you find yourself coming up short for the fee for standardized tests, ask your guidance counselor about potentially getting them waived. The most important things you need to do are study and prepare so you can perform as well as you possibly can.
You should also begin looking at scholarships during the spring of your junior year. Be sure to look at the US Department of Labor’s website to see its scholarship options. The earlier you start looking at scholarships, the better off you are, considering the applications are due in the summer. Be aware of the many scholarship scams out there though. Do a lot of thorough research before giving out your information.
Your junior year is also a great time to start exploring career options. Try shadowing professionals you admire or take a few career matching tests to get a better idea of what career path would be right for you, if you’re not entirely sure what career you want to pursue. Once you’ve found a job path that appeals to you, start looking at colleges that offer degrees in that field or a similar field. Take trips to local college fairs to see what your area offers. It’s always a good idea to attend any presentations in the field you’re looking at so you can get a better idea of what it’s all about.
The summer between your junior year and your senior year of high school is the time you should start visiting prospective colleges, if you haven’t already. If you’ve prepared properly, you should have a list of your top colleges, which can obviously help you narrow down where you want to go and visit first.
After your visits, contact the colleges’ admissions offices for information on their admission requirements, the deadlines and their financial aid options. Most universities have early-decision programs for students that are eager to attend. If this sounds like an option you’d be interested in, you should be prepared for those early deadlines.
Be sure you’re taking all your payment options into consideration when looking at new schools. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website can help you estimate and see what types of aid you can receive. Compare the costs of your school choices to the financial aid packages they offer because it can help you start to narrow down and make your final college decision easier.