The fall of junior year is usually a busy time for students. Between beginning to consider colleges you’re interested in, starting preparation for the ACT or SAT, and diving into a rigorous course load, there’s plenty to juggle. This year brings even more uncertainty to the equation with many students starting the school year in a hybrid or remote learning model. With all of the unknowns, focus on what you can control. Here’s our playbook for how to start off on the right track.
Take time for you:
- Prioritize your mental health and wellbeing. We have never, as a world, faced something like this before. There is no roadmap, and every single person is having to figure things out day by day. This includes you! Please give yourself permission to do the things you need to do to decompress, connect with loved ones, and just be.
- Remember, your physical health is an essential part of your wellbeing, too, so aim to get moving, either at home or in safe, outdoor spaces. It’s a well-known fact that exercise can decrease stress and anxiety, and even help you sleep better. Plus, it can improve your mood, leaving you feeling capable of tackling whatever lies ahead.
Prep for success:
- Take time and plan ahead for new learning models. Decide how you will organize your time during hybrid or remote learning. Will you have a daily schedule or be driven by working your way through a to-do list?
- Set up your physical work space for remote learning and homework ahead of time. In addition to organizers for your papers, pens, and other school supplies, think about timers to keep you on track as you learn and calendars so that you can manage upcoming tasks. Perform basic computer maintenance so your digital assets will be ready to work when you are.
- Get started on ACT or SAT prep. While many colleges will be test optional for the Class of 2021, it is less certain what college applications will look like when it comes time for the Class of 2022 to apply, and many colleges thus far have stated that their plan is to be test optional only for the current admissions cycle. Start with an ACT and SAT diagnostic test to determine which test will be your best fit. Be flexible—while fall tests may be cancelled in some areas, or reserved for seniors in others, you will likely have many opportunities to take the ACT or SAT in the winter and spring.
- Think about your extracurricular life. It may very well still look different than it did pre-Covid-19, and that’s okay! As school starts up again, re-engage with school year activities in whatever form they now take. If your activities still really don’t work in a remote or hybrid learning world, consider what else you might be able to do to pursue an interest, deepen a commitment to something in your life, and/or serve your community.
Look to the future:
- Find ways to take ownership of your responsibilities. Get in the habit of signing yourself up for standardized tests and initiating college research and virtual visits. Soon enough, you’ll be on your own and glad you got some practice taking responsibility.
- Keep an eye out for news about the PSAT this fall. If it’s an option and you’re an especially capable test-taker, you should consider taking the PSAT even if you think you’ll eventually take the ACT and not the SAT. Unless changes are announced, the PSAT is part of the criteria to become a National Merit Scholar.
- If you are eager to begin the college search, take advantage of the myriad opportunities for online engagement that colleges and universities have rolled out during the pandemic. Doing virtual info sessions and tours can be a great first step to help you plan meaningful college visits when campuses open up again and make the best use of time when that happens.
If a new school year in an uncertain environment seems daunting, just remember to control the controllables: focus on what you can do to position yourself for success and trust that the rest will work itself out when the time comes. But if you have specific questions or need additional support, reach out. We’re here to help.