Juniors, Time to Kick Your College Planning Into High Gear

How to make the most of the spring semester of junior year.

February 17, 2017

Stick to a timeline and action plan for junior year and senior year to stay on track.
Photo: Thinkstock

By junior year of high school, you’ve probably been planning for college for quite some time, taking the PSAT/NMSQT & the PLAN (Pre-ACT) test, researching colleges and universities online and requesting more information from the ones you like, talking to friends about where you’d like to go.

But when you get in to your spring semester and watch your senior friends start getting their acceptance letters, it’s a good time to get more serious about your college planning.

Here are five quick tips to get you ready for your senior year and your college career ahead:

1. Talk to your senior friends.

By spring semester, seniors will be getting thick and thin envelopes, letting them know which colleges and universities they got into, and will be working on securing financial aid and getting ready for college. Ask your friends for tips on how to get through the process: where to find financial aid, how to choose the school that’s right for you, what to do on your college visits. Because your friends know you well, they’ll be able to supplement the information you get through Web articles, parents and guidance counselors.

2. Fill out the FAFSA forecaster.

This online form gives you an estimate of how much federal aid you will be eligible for. Since federal aid is the largest form of student financial aid, this can give you a realistic estimate of how much you’ll need to pay for college, as well as offer you valuable information about the financial aid process and what type of federal aid is available to you.

The more scholarships and grants you can secure for college, the less you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

3. Start looking for scholarships and grants.

Unlike college loans, scholarships and grants are free money; in other words, they are gift aid and don’t need to be repaid. The more scholarships and grants you can secure for college, the less you’ll have to pay out of pocket and the less you’ll have to take out in college loans. There are many scholarships and grants available to students, but also lots of competition, so the more time you give yourself to do research, the better a chance you’ll have of getting gift aid to help you pay for college.

4. Visit a variety of colleges.

Until you visit different types of colleges, you won’t really know what type of environment you prefer. Look at large and small schools, urban and rural settings, public and private colleges, schools close to home and far away, reach schools, target schools and safety schools. If you can, visit while school is in session so you can get a sense of what student life is like.

5. Take the SAT or ACT test.

Taking a standardized test in your junior year gives you time to study and retake the test, if necessary, during your senior year. And if you do well the first time and don’t plan to retake the test, then you have one less thing to worry about during your senior year.

Final tip: Stick to a timeline and action plan for junior year and senior year to stay on track.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

High School Junior Timeline and Checklist
Junior Year College Prep Schedule
High School Senior Timeline and Checklist
College Planning: When Should I Start?

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