Juniors! Do you smell that? It’s the end of the year creeping closer. Soon, your time as juniors will close and you will open a new chapter as seniors and college hopefuls. The end of the year is a big part of this transition and can be a critical runway for starting your college applications. Setting college application goals, no matter how big or small, and really sticking to them during this busy time of year will keep you on track and (relatively) stress-free when the pressure cooker really starts to heat up in the fall. Back in January we sketched out a college application calendar for juniors. Here are the next essential steps and milestones.
Your spring break is the perfect time to hunker down and do some good old fashioned research on the schools that strike your fancy. Whether you visit campuses in person or online, start a journal (or Google doc or Tumblr) where you can keep track of your first impressions. What qualities and programs appeal to you most? What was the first thing you noticed when you set foot on campus? You may think you’ll remember everything, but eventually some details may blend together. Keeping good notes from the get-go will ensure that you have lots to work with when you get down to finally get down to telling schools why you want to go there. A very small number of schools may also release their supplemental essay questions this month (most come out over the summer), which will provide some key information about the kinds of details you should track in your notes.
It’s the second to last month of school for most of you – yay stress! Your second semester junior year grades are pretty darn important since they are some of the most current grades admissions officers will see, when they first look at your application. So, make sure you set yourself up for success in May. Give yourself time to study, pencil 8 hours of sleep per night into your calendar, and make sure to carboload the night before a big exam or presentation (or is that the rule for running a marathon?).
It’s a great idea to give your teachers as much time as possible to write your recommendations. Chances are, you’re not the only one who’s going to ask for one, so giving a little heads up never hurts. In fact, letting your recommenders know ahead of time will help ensure they don’t forget all of your accomplishments and the brilliant things you said over the summer. Knowing who your recommenders are in advance will also give you a clearer sense of what your overall application will look like, and what details you’ll want to fill in with your essay. Just make sure you don’t wait until the last day of school to ask!