Build relationships, research and refine.
-Develop a testing plan, and plan to sit for both the SAT and the ACT before the conclusion of your junior year.
-Continue putting forth your best effort in your classes. Colleges pay close attention to your grades in the junior year to see how you perform in more difficult, upper-level courses. Furthermore, many colleges will make decisions on your candidacy before they have the opportunity to see grades from your senior year.
-Consider adding appropriate challenges to your course schedule in the junior and senior year. Selective colleges want to see applicants take full advantage of a rigorous curriculum, including honors and AP courses. Because your success in these courses is also important, you should follow teacher and advisor recommendations when considering these additions.
-Focus extracurricular involvement around your interests, abilities, and leadership potential. Work with sponsors, mentors, and coaches to explore ways to continue your involvement in college if you so choose. Start putting together portfolios, audition materials, athletic resumes, and highlight reels. As you become interested in specific colleges, make contact with coaches, sponsors, and department chairs to find out how their programs might match your interests.
-Stay sane. Many students report a significant increase in academic workload while juggling greater demands of time and effort. Time management and academic stress can reach a fever pitch in the junior year. Use parents, teachers, and friends to maintain a good sense of perspective and reach out to others when you need help.
-Concentrate on cultivating powerful and productive relationships with your teachers. In all likelihood, you will ask at least one teacher from your junior year to write you a college recommendation.
-Build a good relationship with your college counselor.
-Pay close attention to your social media presence. More colleges are mining places like Twitter and Facebook for information about applicants.
-Use Naviance regularly to research colleges and to manage and update a list of colleges in which you have interest.
-Plan your summer early. Having a productive summer between junior and senior year is an important element for success in the college process.
-All juniors take the PSAT in October. This exam also acts as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, so it is important to take the exam seriously. Juniors will review their results with the college counseling staff in December. It is also helpful to compare results between sophomore and junior year to construct a plan for study and improvement.
-College representatives visit Randolph throughout the fall semester, and a few colleges will also visit in the spring. If your schedule allows, please join these representatives when they visit campus. Juniors are allowed to miss class for these visits once they have secured permission from their classroom teacher. It is particularly important for juniors to visit with college representatives from schools outside of our region, as these colleges might not visit Randolph every year.
-Randolph hosts a college night for juniors and their parents in November. This night serves as the official “kick-off” for the college process.
-All juniors are enrolled in Junior College Seminar, a six week program of small group meetings with a college counselor. This seminar introduces juniors to the finer points of the college admissions process. These seminars take place in the third quarter.
-In the third quarter, each junior is assigned a college counselor. All juniors are required to meet with their college counselor before the end of the year. Junior parents are also encouraged to schedule a meeting with their child’s college counselor. The college counseling staff will work with juniors and their families to develop a working list of potential “match” colleges.
-Juniors should plan to visit college campuses over the Presidents’ Day holiday, Spring Break, and summer vacation. Juniors should also consider attending the NACAC National College Fair in Nashville, held each spring.
-All juniors will register for and take both the SAT and the ACT before the conclusion of the year. These tests should be taken between February and June. Both tests are accepted at all colleges nationwide.
-Juniors with a high aptitude in US History, foreign language, math, or English Literature and who are considering highly selective colleges should register for SAT Subject Tests in June. Consult with your college counselor and the appropriate teachers when making the decision to take these tests.
Summer between Junior and Senior Year:
-Research, visit, and refine. Find that match by engaging fully in the research and visiting process. Even though most colleges are not in session during the summer, they remain vibrant and bustling communities, and students can get a sense of a college during a summer tour.
-Use Naviance to narrow the college list. Ideally, most students should enter the application process in the senior year with a list of five to eight schools representing each of the three admissions categories: reach, target, and likely.
-Write the first draft of the Common Application short and long essays. You will continue to revise these essays throughout the first half of the senior year, both with your college counselor and in the English classroom. Both the junior and senior English curriculum devote an extensive amount of time to the art of crafting a personal essay.
-Engage in meaningful and genuine activities over the summer. Take a course, enroll in a program, work a summer job, engage in community service, and travel. Look into leadership programs like Leadership Huntsville or the Alabama Governor’s School. Stay busy but find some time to relax as well.