We all hear that junior spring is usually a busy time for students engaging with the college process. So what should high school juniors actually be doing? See below for our 2024 junior spring checklist:
- Prioritize your mental health and wellbeing. You probably hear this a lot, but we think it’s essential advice, so you’re going to hear it from us, too: take care of yourselves. Junior year burnout is real. Amidst all the test prep, studying for APs, college visits, and extracurriculars, please give yourself permission to do the things you need to do to decompress when you need to.
- Think about your teacher advocates. Teacher recommendations matter more than ever in the post-pandemic landscape, especially for those students whose schools may have moved to P/F at some points during high school. Admissions officers really rely on these narrative evaluations to understand who students are in the classroom. Students typically need two recommendations from junior year teachers in core subjects, and now is a great time to think about which of your teachers know you best and to ask them by the end of the semester so that they can use time in the summer to work on their letters if they’d like to.
- Make sure you have a great lineup of courses for next year. As your course selection is finalized, make sure you are taking on a course load that allows you to challenge yourself in your best subjects but will still enable you to succeed. This will look different for every student!
- Stay connected with your school’s college counselor. Spring term is typically the time when juniors have meetings with their schools counselors, and may be asked to submit “brag sheets” or other information in advance of these meetings. Be thoughtful with these assignments and engage with the resources at your school. Your school counselor is always an important advocate for you.
- Keep preparing for standardized tests, if you’re not done with testing. While a number of schools have already announced they will be test optional again this fall, and we expect more will follow, we want our students to have the most options possible as they consider their college application strategy.
- Consider starting a resume, or at least informally keeping track of how you spend your time. Admissions officers want to know how you spend your time, whether that’s traditional extracurriculars or things like pursuing a passion project, picking up new hobbies, or helping your family (think: cooking, taking care of a younger sibling). Even if they do not contribute to your resume in a traditional way, all of these things matter a great deal, and may end up on your application—so keep track of them and consider how you can highlight them!
- Attend virtual tours and info sessions for colleges you can’t visit in person. Colleges have worked hard to roll out online opportunities for prospective students, from virtual info sessions to opportunities to chat with current students. It’s important to engage with these where you can—especially at schools that track demonstrated interest! See our blog for more about college visits from home and the best questions to ask.
Extra Credit: Fill out the Common App! Many parents and students wonder if they can start writing college essays during junior spring. While we generally recommend waiting until summer, students who are eager to check something off their to-do list can start by filling out the Common Application; since most of the information will roll over when the Common App resets on August 1. Note: do not complete any college-specific questions; this information will not roll over when the Common App resets in the summer.
And if you need support with any of the above, from choosing your senior year classes to figuring out the right test prep plan to filling out the Common App, we can help!