“Dear Juniors…” Tips for Starting the Year Strong

This year can be quite busy – it’s an important one for your future, too, if you plan to attend college. I want to share a few tips to help you start off on the right foot:

(These things are all still important even with the current circumstances of the pandemic.)

  • Work harder at school this year. Your junior year grades will be what colleges see as you apply next fall. You can still have fun, of course, but doing your best this year really matters.
  • Participate in class even if it doesn’t come naturally. Come this spring you will be advised to ask two academic teachers to write your college recommendation letters. Those letters will be much more personal and favorable if your teacher has gotten to know you through your contributions to class discussions. Speaking up in class will get easier as you practice, and you will need this skill in college and in the workplace.
  • Stay after school for extra help (in person or virtually) or to attend review sessions before a quiz or test. This will almost always make you better prepared. And, again, it will give your teacher a chance to get to know you and your work ethic.
  • Work on your study skills, time management, and overall organization. You will need to be proficient in these areas to be a successful student in high school and college. If these areas are difficult, ask your parent to help you find some support, either at school or by hiring an academic coach.
  • Make sure you are involved in some activities outside of class. (This one is very difficult because of Covid-19, but hopefully, you can find ways to participate) When it comes time to write your essays and participate in campus interviews, you’ll want to point to things you have done in addition to your academics. Volunteering, part-time jobs, clubs, sports, the arts, etc., are all valuable in this way. Plus, they can be fun and help you realize your strengths and interests.
  • Plan to take the PSAT when your school offers it in October. (It may be in January this year.) Arrange to also take a practice ACT and compare the results. Pick one and then decide on your test-prep plan. (If you receive accommodations for school testing, talk to school counselors to make sure you have them for these tests too.) Many schools have switched to Test-Optional this year, but it is unclear how many will continue with that when you apply.
  • Be vigilant about your presence on Social Media. Schools definitely have access to this, and yes, scholarships and even acceptances have been rescinded based on what they have seen on social channels. In short, if you wouldn’t want your grandmother or a future employer to see it, don’t put it out there!  
  • Plan to visit some college campuses this fall to do some window shopping. Do your best to visit local schools of different sizes and locations (city vs suburban/rural). It is best to see schools that are realistic for you to attend so that you don’t fall in love with a school that is not an option for you. Some schools are offering on-campus tours and some are virtual. All schools are offering virtual information sessions, so you don’t have to sit in a room with others!

All my best for a great junior year!

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