Ten Things Rising Juniors Need to Start Doing…Right Now!

Joseph Novinson

Géraldine Guillermin

Congratulations! You and your rising junior are about to embark on one of the most critical years of high school.

And while the summer is the perfect time to stop and take a breath (believe us, we totally get it), the Vested Academics Consulting Team has created a do-it-now checklist for parents. Get out your favorite lawn chair, have a seat in the sun, and read through the rest of this post to ensure your teenager’s junior year starts off right.

1). Plan your SAT prep (after your PSAT)!

If your teen has already taken their PSAT, then it’s a good idea to put together an SAT study strategy now. Why? Well, for starters, a solid SAT score can increase their chances of getting into a competitive school and receiving merit scholarships. But, above all else, there’s a lot of material on the exam. So it’s better to take it slow, absorb concepts over time, and avoid the pitfalls of cramming.

2). Sign up with Khan Academy for free SAT prep

Looking to pass on overpriced, ineffective test prep? Khan Academy has proven its free SAT prep works. FYI, they’ve partnered with the College Board (i.e., the non-profit that administers the SAT) to create a library of quality practice tests and online lessons. Khan’s service can even upload your teen’s PSAT scores, design a test prep plan, and generate practice modules based on areas that need to be improved. Did we mention it’s free?

3). Explore the working world this summer

While a part-time job can put a little extra money in their pockets, most rising juniors can benefit from the real-world experience that a summer gig can provide. It opens up the door for several conversations, including discussions about personal finance, responsibility, and independence.

4). Write a CV or resume

This is a great exercise for rising juniors. It helps them not only look back at their past accomplishments but also frame how an admissions officer might view their application profile (if it were submitted today).

5). Start developing a simple college search list

A college search list is exactly what it sounds like—a list of schools that a student intends on applying to. However, a lot can happen during a student’s junior year, so your teen’s list will undoubtedly change between now and the start of their senior year. But, at this stage of the game, it’s important to get the ball rolling, because you don’t want to make stressful last-minute decisions. The National Center for Education Statistics has a great free site where you can explore U.S. colleges and universities.

6). Plan college visits for the upcoming fall and spring

If you’ve already got a few schools in mind, it’s worthwhile to begin planning campus visits now. Remember, it’s critical to see campuses when they’re in full swing (i.e., during the fall or spring). That way, you and your teenager can get the skinny on what the school’s really like by chatting with students who aren’t part of your tour.

7). Find out if the colleges you’re interested in require SAT Subject Tests

Although several schools will ask to see your teen’s SAT scores, a fair amount of private and competitive colleges will request SAT Subject Test scores, too. If your teenager has their heart set on specific schools, be sure and find out if they require, recommend, or accept the SAT Subject Tests (because they’ll have to prep for them in addition to the SAT). You can find out which schools ask for SAT Subject Tests by clicking HERE.

8). Get tutored on your weak spots over the summer

Like it or not, your teenager’s junior-year grades will carry a lot of weight. So they should seriously consider taking advantage of their free time this summer and improve any known academic weaknesses left over from last year (or before). Working with a skilled tutor now can make your teen’s junior year a lot easier.

9). Start interacting online with colleges that interest you

If your rising junior is interested in attending a given college, ask them to be proactive and make online inquiries to admissions offices. Have them fill out online information requests and campus tour forms. Encourage them to follow schools on social media and attend free online events for prospective students.

10). Plan community service for next year

Again, since your teen’s junior year will be busier than their sophomore year, it’s easy to let community service and volunteer opportunities fall by the wayside. Take some time now and discuss a few options with your teenager to avoid scrambling later on.

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Joseph NovinsonGéraldine Guillermin is an admissions consultant at Vested Academics. She has provided college admissions guidance to hundreds of students and families in the United States, France, Canada, and Europe.

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