Jumping into the Junior Checklist



Preparing for College Guide and Workbook VA for the 2018 - 2019 year Cover Page

Allen Fleming, Staff

As high school students enter their junior year, the pressure on them to prepare for their post-high school future increases drastically. However, the Junior Checklist and Preparing for College Guide, released by the Educational Credit Management Corporation, along with advice from guidance counselors, can help to relieve this pressure and articulate a plan for junior year and beyond.

The Junior Checklist is a worksheet in the Preparing for College Guide that allows students to check boxes next to tasks as they complete them in preparation for college. The Preparing for College Guide, released by the Educational Credit Management Corporation, includes information on multiple facets of the college search: how to choose the right college, the college application process, navigating financial aid, information specific to Virginia colleges, and student checklists for each grade level, including the Junior Checklist. The Junior Checklist breaks down the academic year by season, progressing from fall to summer, and provides subtopics with bulleted lists specific to what should be accomplished that season.

In the fall and winter, the Junior Checklist advises students to begin career planning by attending local career fairs, taking an online career inventory, listing interesting career paths, talking to professionals in those career plans, and sharpening the skills necessary for listed career paths. Students should also plan for college by discussing college plans with counselors, becoming involved in extracurricular activities, and attending college fairs and information meetings. Students should also look to tour campuses they are interested in during the Thanksgiving and winter breaks, taking into account campus life, student body size and student to teacher ratio, and popular majors and academic programs. Websites such as https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/https://www.collegeweeklive.com/, and https://www.campustours.com/ can help in this process and provide virtual tours for more distant campuses. Using this information, students can begin to prepare their college list and identify reach and safety schools.

Junior John Golden has already begun to tour multiple colleges. “I’ve toured multiple colleges already because I want to know my options early,” Golden said. “I’ve toured Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Washington and Lee, William and Mary, James Madison University, and Virginia Military Institute.”

While some students have been touring colleges, others have began planning to work during the summer. Junior Omar Alomar is one of these students, stating, “I plan on working at either FootLocker or Cinemark, because I like both shoes and movies. I think it’s very important for teenagers to get early experience in the workforce, and to choose a job that fits your interests. Having a job you like will help make you positive and enthusiastic about joining the workforce and excited about future job opportunities.”

Following fall and winter comes spring, in which the Junior Checklist recommends that students begin to prepare themselves academically for the future. Juniors should begin to take college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT, however, it is also common for most juniors to begin to take these tests in either the fall or winter. Grafton guidance counselors also recommend that students take these tests at least twice and are aware of scores required to get into the colleges on their college list. Students can register for the SAT at https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/ and the ACT at http://www.act.org/. Juniors should also begin to increase the difficulty of their academic workload, signing up for AP (Advanced Placement) classes and prepare for IB (International Baccalaureate) exams.

When asked about the SAT and ACT, Golden said, “I’ve already taken the SAT because I want to make sure I have multiple opportunities to get the score I want. Each time you take the SAT, it also serves as experience and practice for the next time you want to take it. I would definitely take the guidance counselors’ advice and take the tests more than once.”

Moving into the summer before their senior year, students should become aware of and start thinking about the application process of the colleges on their college list. In addition to preparing for the application process, students should begin to draft their application essays, personal statements, and scholarship resumes. College applicants can also seek the advice and feedback of a college adviser in order to improve these documents required for application. In addition to preparing to apply, students should also begin to research the financial aspects of college, such as financial aid and scholarship applications.

“It’s really important to think about financial aid and scholarships when applying for colleges, because the funding you could possibly get might allow you to be able to have more financial options later on,” junior Daniel Lee said.

Remember, it is never too early to begin thinking about the future after high school, and that steps of the Junior Checklist can be completed before the recommended deadline. For any additional assistance, you can seek the advice and help of a guidance counselor or pick up a copy of the Preparing for College Guide from the guidance office.