No rest for the weary.  Juniors are heading straight into the college exploration process and then (without stopping) right into the application process.  It is a stressful time for students and parents. Here are some tips for reducing stress, staying focused, and working toward your goals.

  1. Have a plan—do you have any short or long term goals for the year?  You should.  They don’t all (or any) have to be college or school related–in fact you should always have goals in many areas of your life so think big and have fun with this.
  2. Introduce yourself to your guidance counselor—make sure he or she knows who you are.
  3. Step it up—take on a leadership role in an extracurricular activity,sport,  or club that you enjoy.  If you are not involved in any extracurricular activities that you enjoy, what are you waiting for?  Get started today.
  4. Get on campus!  Plan a visit to a college or university campus.  Make it official by calling ahead and reserving a spot for an information session and campus tour.  Plan to spend 2-3 hours on campus.  Can’t get away?  Visit a local campus to get started even if you plan to attend school out of town.
  5. Recommendations—think about whom  you will ask to write a letter of recommendation for your college applications.  Ask the teacher(s) who have seen you challenge yourself academically and stretch your intellectual muscles.  The one who gave you the easy ‘A’ is probably not the best candidate.  Plan to ask these teachers to write your recommendation before the end of junior year.
  6. Standardized testing—yes, you will need to sign up for test dates and prepare for the exams.  Plan on taking the SAT or the ACT at least twice.
  7. Work hard and do your best—There is no substitute for a hard working student in challenging courses. Stick with the five academic cores all four years of high school–yes, we mean all four years of English, Math, Science, Foreign Language, and Social Studies.  You probably don’t need all four years of these to meet the requirements for high school graduation but you will be more competitive at your first choice school if you stick with harder courses.  You will also be more prepared for college-level work–college boot camp!
  8. Think about your future–spend some time considering your academic goals and professional interests.  This is a process folks!  You should continuously define and refine these goals.  Remember courses you take, experiential opportunities you pursue, and people you know and meet will influence your journey.  Spending time considering your interests over the course of the college exploration and admissions process (and beyond) is part of your job for the next few years.

Put these to work and by the end of the junior year you will have accomplished a lot and you will have a better sense of where you want to head over the next year and beyond.