class room If you’re a junior in high school (or will be soon) and you’re thinking of attending college, know your junior year is critically important. That’s because junior year is the last full school year that colleges can review your high school performance, once you submit any college applications.
Your junior year also matters a lot because you’ll need to make key decisions – about current classes, future schooling and a career path – that will impact your next few years. Below are the most important items to think about for your junior year.
  • Class selection and grades – College admissions offices will pay close attention to the rigor of the junior year classes you select and the grades you earn. If you hope to gain entry to a selective college, you’ll want to take tougher classes and get good grades in them. Plan also to get to know your favorite junior year teachers well enough to ask them to write letters of recommendation for you for college.
  • Activities/athletics – If you choose during junior year to be in a school-related activity, like band or drama, or you’re part of a school athletic team, know that many colleges will review your extracurricular activities and interests as closely as your academics.
  • Career path – Where do you see yourself after your formal education ends? Perhaps in business, technology, education or something else? Your career interests will guide the types of colleges you consider. Or, if you don’t see college in your near future, you might consider joining the military, a civic service organization or the workforce after high school.
  • College planning – You can expect to receive lots of mail from colleges during your junior year. Colleges know it’s when students weigh their future education options, attend college fairs and visit colleges of interest. If you’re considering college, narrow your “short list” of school possibilities down to no more than 8-10.
  • Standardized tests – During junior year you might take the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), which may qualify you for merit scholarships, AP Placement exams, if you took Advanced Placement classes, or the SAT or ACT, which many colleges still use as part of their admissions criteria. Some local school districts also require juniors to pass a qualifying test for high school graduation.
If you’re seriously thinking of college, plan now for its cost and how you’ll potentially pay for it. For 2022-2023, average annual tuition and fees (not counting room and board) are $39,723 at private colleges and $10,423 at public, in-state colleges. Many colleges potentially provide students with grants, scholarships and loans to help reduce and cover these costs. There are also several online sites to help you find other scholarship opportunities, such as this one.
If your parents are willing to help you pay for college, have that conversation now. If you have a part-time or school break job, you might consider dedicating some or all of your earnings to a designated “college fund” in a Dinero savings account. Advancial also offers student loans to help you fund college.