As a junior, you’ve just completed one of the most academically challenging years of high school. Now, as your senior year is just a couple of months away, you have to start making a lot of decisions about what you’re going to do next, and many of them involve the prospect of higher education. So in preparation, here are a couple of tips on what every junior should do the summer before senior year.
Related: Video: Junior Year Advice
Start searching for colleges if you haven’t already. Begin by thinking about what you want from a school—does a big campus attract you or a small one? Do you want to go somewhere close to home or would you prefer to go out of state, even out of the country?
Determine what type of area you want to live in, whether it’s a big urban center or a small rural community. All of these choices will help you narrow down your college search and help you decide on a school. Don’t feel the need to settle on a college right now, but try and work toward a decision and find a few you like throughout the summer.
On a similar note, begin thinking about what you want to study—this can also help narrow down your search—but also know that it’s okay to go in undecided. You still have time to make these decisions, but having some idea can lessen your stress during senior year.
After you have a few colleges in mind, tour them! This part doesn’t necessarily have to be over the summer. I’ve found there’s a big difference in touring a university when there are classes in session and students milling about versus when the university is empty. With students present, you get a better feel for the school as you would experience it, so there’s a definite value in waiting for the fall. But you can plan these tours in the summer months nonetheless, especially if you need to travel far to get to these schools.
In addition to searching for colleges, start looking for scholarships. If you know what university you hope to attend, many of their websites have scholarship pages you can look through. In doing this, you may find a lot of awards that are specific to that school or even a degree program they offer.
If you don’t know where you’re planning to go, look through websites such as CollegeXpress for scholarships. (Editor’s note: thanks for the shoutout, Grant!) Be cautious of scholarships that are school or degree specific, but many will be open to anyone regardless of where you’re going and what you’re studying. Also be aware that not all schools will accept all scholarships. Stay conscientious of requirements, and read the fine print to make sure your potential schools are eligible. (Make sure you’re eligible too!)
Take small steps
Now that all the big stuff is out of the way, read and research as much about college as you can, and keep your mind sharp for senior year. If you don’t like your SAT or ACT scores, look into retaking them and trying for a higher score. Now’s a great time to work on practice tests to help give your scores a boost.
You could also look into getting a job if you don’t already have one to add to your college fund. A lot of businesses will hire students for the summer if you’re not interested in working through the school year, so take the opportunities that arise. This is especially great if you plan to be home over the summer and they’re open to having you work seasonally.
Finally, enjoy the summer. Seek new experiences and enjoy the time off. Relax and rejuvenate, but remember: you’re not done quite yet!
Start looking at schools with the CollegeXpress College Search tool.