8 Tips for Second Semester Junior Year of High School

second semester junior year

It’s second semester junior year, which means you’re officially on the road to college admissions. Pretty soon, you’ll be donning a cap and gown and off to the college of your choice. But first, you have to get in.Second semester junior year is a critical time to prepare for the college application process senior year. From test prep to summer plans, from here on it, every detail matters. So get out your to-do list and write this down.

1. Academic Hail Mary

You’ll probably hear that junior year is the most important year academically for college applications. This is only partially true. EVERY year matters, from freshman year all through senior year. Adcoms look at your college application cumulatively; they want to see either consistently high marks OR a clear trajectory of growth.

And that’s why second semester junior year is so important. It’s your academic Hail Mary. If you had a weaker start in high school but you’re aiming high, you’ve got to get those grades up by second semester junior year. Any progress you make senior year will also count towards your application, but those grades won’t be on your transcript if you submit early, and may not be finalized before the regular decision deadline in January. Put in the extra push now!

2. Set Up Leadership Positions for Senior Year

Hopefully, you’ve made a commitment to 2-3 extracurricular activities that you’re really passionate about. Now, it’s time to make an IMPACT. Adcoms want to see that you have taken leadership positions and made an IMPACT in your activities. Why? They’re trying to judge if you’ll be an asset to their school and contribute to the school community.

So whether you’re on the debate team or running track, take some steps this semester to ensure that you’ll be in a leadership position senior year. Put your name in for captain, start planning your student council campaign, talk to your coach or teacher about how you can contribute more to the team.

3. Plan a Productive Summer

Summers are just as important as the school year, so make sure your summer is productive and full of inspiration for your college application. Work, volunteer, travel, or study – you have so many options, but you’ll have to start planning for them NOW. If you’re planning on volunteering, ask now if there will be projects you can lead in the summer. A lot of summer study programs have application processes that will need to be finished by March.

4. Test Prep

The best way to prepare for standardized tests is to practice. Familiarize yourself with the structure of the exam, time limits, number of questions, and that way you won’t feel flustered during the exam. You can use test prep books, online tutorials, or even hire a tutor if you’re struggling. Don’t forget to check exam dates and make sure you register for the right ones.

5. Know your Recommenders

Start thinking about who will write your letters of recommendation. Before you leave for the summer, you’ll want to ask your teachers if they will write your recommendation.

6. Narrow your College List

By the end of second semester junior year, you’ll want to have a pretty good idea of WHERE you’ll apply to college. You don’t have to finalize your list yet, but you should start the research. Know your “competitive tiers” – the schools that would be your match, reach, and safety schools.

7. College Visits

A lot juniors use spring break to visit colleges while they’re in session. If it’s an option, then take the opportunity to visit some of your target schools, but also include a variety of schools – urban, rural, big, small. In the end, fit doesn’t really matter as much as you think, but when it comes to making your final decision, your college visits will help inform your choice.

8. Get Organized

There’s a lot to keep track of in the college admissions process. Standardized test registration dates, early decision and regular decision application deadlines, dates to get your transcripts and your letters of recommendation – start adding these to your calendar NOW and save yourself a lot of stress senior year.


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