Guide and College Prep List for High School Juniors

Checklist for College-Bound High School Juniors

Juniors in high school who read this will be far ahead of the competition when it comes to getting into prestigious universities and state colleges. Here is a comprehensive guide and college prep checklist for getting into college. Read on to learn about what you need to do to give yourself an edge over the competition. A College Glossary of Terms is at the end.

Take the first step. Determine who your high school guidance counselor is and make an introduction. You have two more years at this school, and your senior year will most likely be with the same guidance counselor. Get a head start on everyone else by setting the groundwork today and starting the conversation about your desire to attend college. Set up a meeting. There will be many of your fellow students fighting for your guidance counselor’s attention, and he may not be able to help them all. He will, however, make every effort to assist youngsters he knows who wish to attend college.

Decide on the parameters that you and your family will use when you search for colleges in order to prevent having to hurry at the last moment for your top choices. Would a huge public university or a tiny liberal arts college make you more satisfied? What role does financial aid play in your college decision-making? Would you rather attend a school near your parents, anywhere else in the country, or perhaps the rest of the world?

Become friends with a few teachers. While applying to colleges, you’ll need recommendations, and great recommendations come from the teachers who know you best.

Participate in something. You’ll need certain materials for your college CV. Join a club related to your major, even if you have only a hazy concept of what you want to study in college. Colleges value appropriate extracurricular activities on resumes.

Set up your meeting with your guidance counselor. Make sure you’re taking the correct classes and making good use of your time. Ask about potential majors and institutions that could be a good fit for you.

Register for the PSAT, which will be administered in mid-October. It’s important to study and take it seriously, but it’s not worth getting worked up over. The exam is intended to accomplish two things: 1) They collect your name and address so universities can start sending you stuff in the mail, and 2) they see what areas you need to improve on when you take the real SAT. It’s not always a horrible thing, but that’s what it is. To learn more, review Get to Know the PSAT-NMSQT and to understand your test result, look at PSAT-NMSQT Score Report Case Study.

Application Essay

You can be certain that schools will be eager to learn everything there is to know about you. What characteristics and activities define your individuality? Why do you wish to pursue your chosen major(s)? How, from childhood to adulthood, have you demonstrated growth?

Begin considering the answers to the above questions and write down what you feel are the best answers based on your favorite subject areas and activities. Make a master list of your strongest points and the reasons you are passionate about them. 

October, November, and December:

Go through some of the college-related mail that is starting to arrive at your door.


Check your PSAT results. The score will show you the areas you need to improve.

Make another appointment with your guidance counselor. Examine your PSAT score. Inquire about how you might obtain assistance in areas where you are lacking. Inquire about your classes for the coming school year. Make sure you’ve signed up for a demanding course load.

Begin studying for the SAT or ACT. Choose the test your ideal school favors and concentrate on taking it. Several schools are SAT-optional, which means they do not require SAT scores. Take them nonetheless. You don’t have to submit them if you blow it. It’s something to consider.


Enroll for the ACT and/or SAT in the spring.
Continue studying for the SAT and/or ACT.

March and April:

Start going through all of the mail that your preferred universities or colleges have been sending you. 

Determine which institutions are the best fit for you and what major you are interested in. 

Take some virtual school tours.

Start looking into scholarships and financial assistance opportunities if you need them.

Set-up some college visits. Do each of these four things:

  • Instead of a campus tour, plan an overnight stay. It’s the most effective approach to acquire a sense of the school.
  • Search for indications of college life. You won’t grasp the essence of student life if you come when students are not around or in class.
  • Because much of college life revolves around food, find out where the students eat and go there. It is here that you will get a sense of who the kids are.
  • Setting up an appointment with an admissions official is one of the most significant aspects of your campus tour. The admissions process is personal, and if the admissions officer can add a human face to your application, you’ve just enhanced your chances of admittance dramatically! If you can truly make that admissions officer “actually recall” you, your chances of admittance skyrocket!


Take the SAT, ACT, or both tests.

June, July and August:

Try volunteering or engaging in a charitable service activity throughout the months of June, July, and August. Admissions officials value leadership and commitment in extracurricular activities outside of school.

Speak to your parents about the institutions you’re thinking about attending.

Read other college prep checklists to make sure you’re on top of everything.

Have a good time! It’s about to become interesting!

College Glossary of Terms:

Advisor: Advisors assist students in choosing courses that will enable them to complete their major and minor requirements and graduate on schedule. Students must seek assistance early since counselors at bigger schools may have more pupils under their supervision.
AP: High schools offer AP (Advanced Placement) programs, which are designed to resemble the course load of an introductory college course. If a student passes the AP exam at the end of the year, they can be eligible for college credit. Schools offer different AP courses, but almost all academic subjects have tests: world languages, English, history, physics, biology, calculus, statistics, and art, to name a few.
Articulation agreement: Some universities create a plan to make it easier for a student to transfer from a two-year program to a four-year one. Certain agreements let students finish their first two years at a nearby two-year institution and then move as third-year students to a four-year college. Some may expedite the application process, allowing a student to get accepted with a certain GPA. See the guidance office of the two-year school for more information on the agreements.
Associate’s degree: After finishing their studies at a two-year college, students are awarded an associate’s degree. Jobs like physical therapist assistant, Web designer, paralegal, mechanic, cosmetologist, veterinary technician, registered nurse, administrative assistant, and dental hygienist are popular ones that call for this degree. Additionally, you may transfer your associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree.
Bachelor’s degree: After finishing their studies in a four-year college or university, students are awarded a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s degrees are required for positions in teaching, journalism, engineering, translation, interpreting, account management, and copywriting. Additionally, it is necessary if you choose to work toward a professional or master’s degree.
Credit: A unit of measurement that colleges and universities use to indicate how much time and effort are needed in a particular class. In order to graduate, students need to achieve a certain number of credits, and in order to major, they need to obtain a specific number of credits in one field. Typically, class standing is determined by the total number of credits earned rather than the number of years finished.
Drop: If a class isn’t working out for you or you don’t like it, you may usually drop it from a college or university. Make sure you know the latest day you may drop a class—each institution has its own deadlines. Additionally, a student’s financial assistance may be impacted if they drop a class and become a part-time student instead of a full-time one.
Early Action: A few universities allow candidates to submit their applications up to several months in advance in order to get an answer before the deadline. Another name for this is a Priority Deadline. Early Action applications are highly recommended for those who want to be evaluated for admission and financial possibilities.
Early Decision: This agreement is enforceable by law. When making this decision, proceed with caution since some universities may want you to make a financial and other commitment to them if you are admitted early.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC): Following the submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the government will calculate the amount of college that a student’s family can afford. The formula considers the income, assets, household size, and the number of children that may be eligible for college for his or her family. The government and educational institutions will use your EFC to develop a financial assistance package.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The government utilizes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to calculate how much grant money you are eligible for. You are also eligible for government loans and work-study programs. A copy of the FAFSA is required for need-based scholarships as documentation of the applicant’s financial status. Schools will use it to calculate their own assistance package. This must be electronically submitted at It is available online starting on October 1 of your senior year. The information will be carried over from year to year in college, but you will still need to submit it each year. You must gather the tax returns for your family before submitting an FAFSA in order to be eligible for financial assistance.
Full-time Students: In a semester or quarter, full-time students enroll in 12–18 credits. Normal tuition rates and financial assistance options often require full-time status.
General Education Courses: Regardless of major, most colleges and universities require all students to study a core of basic topic areas. Therefore, a student majoring in history could still need to take certain scientific and math coursework.
Grade Point Average (GPA): Colleges and universities use students’ GPAs as a means of assessing their academic performance. A 4 is assigned for each “A,” a 3 for each “B,” a 2 for each “C,” a 1 for each “D,” and a 0 for each “F” in order to determine a student’s GPA.
Graduate student: Graduate students are those who have completed their undergraduate studies and are pursuing a master’s, doctoral, or professional degree.
Grants: Similar to scholarships, grants are non-repayable forms of financial assistance. For many of institutions, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Grades often play no part in grants, which are awarded solely on the basis of the student’s financial need. The FAFSA is limited, so apply as soon as possible.
IB: The International Baccalaureate, or IB, is a small learning community that offers highly motivated students the chance to follow a demanding, all-encompassing curriculum with an emphasis on the world. Every school offers a different combination of IB courses and tests; they include tests in World Languages, English, History, Physics, Biology, Calculus, and Art, among other subjects. Visit for more details on the IB program.
Liberal arts colleges: These universities emphasize the value of a well-rounded education and require their students to enroll in a wide range of subject areas. Colleges of liberal arts often emphasize “classical” education. Liberal arts schools may be free-standing establishments or part of a bigger university.
Loans: In order to pay for education, students who don’t get enough grants and scholarships may need to take out loans. These must be paid back, along with interest. They are available from banks and commercial lenders, or via the federal government through the FAFSA. Each lender has a different interest rate and payback plan.
Major: A student’s area of concentration throughout their college years is determined by their major, which requires them to earn a certain amount of credits. Usually, it is a hobby or something that has to do with a desired job. Business, psychology, biology, engineering, and communications are among the most popular majors.
Master’s degree: This is the degree you earn after finishing a graduate program, which typically takes two to three years after the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Although coursework for a master’s degree is often more demanding than that of a bachelor’s, it may lead to greater wages and be necessary for certain jobs. A master’s degree is required for economists, curators of museums, nurses, community college instructors, librarians, and nurse practitioners. Prior to earning a master’s degree, you must finish your bachelor’s degree.
Minor: Students may choose to pursue a minor in addition to their major at some institutions and universities. The student will be interested in the subject matter, but they lack the time or energy to double major in it. Generally speaking, minors need less credits than majors.
Part-time student: Part-time students are those who enroll in less than 12 courses in a given semester or quarter. In addition to potentially paying a different tuition rate, part-time students could not be as qualified for financial help as full-time students.
Pell Grant: This is federal financial aid (not a loan) awarded to the most deserving students based on their FAFSA results. The highest prize varies every year, but it is around $5,000. The expected family contribution and the cost of the student’s education determine how much money the student gets from Pell.
PhD: An abbreviation for “Doctor of Philosophy.” Not at all; philosophy is not a requirement for all PhD candidates. PhD candidates spend many years thoroughly studying and researching a certain topic. If you want to be recognized as an authority in your profession, are interested in advanced science, or would want to become a professor, go this route. Before pursuing a PhD, you must have a bachelor’s degree; you could additionally require a master’s before enrolling in this program.
Rolling admissions: Some institutions take applications year-round, accepting students until their courses are filled. However, this does not mean that you cannot apply as early as possible in the autumn.
Semester/Quarter: The academic years of colleges and universities are split up into either quarters or semesters. While students at quarter-system colleges have three primary quarters (autumn, winter, and spring) plus an optional summer session, semester-based students have two semesters (spring and fall). Compared to their semester counterparts, quarter system students will enroll in more courses, but they will also take more tests.
Undergraduate: All students attending college in pursuit of a bachelor’s or associate’s degree are considered undergraduates.
Work-study: Work-study is a kind of government financial assistance that helps students find jobs on or around campus. A student may only work a certain amount of hours at these occupations, which may connect to their interests.

– love learning -your best ed lessons guide, Scott

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