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A College Planning Roadmap for your Junior Year in High School


This Junior Year Roadmap is to help you with college planning by detailing what needs to be done, and when. Managing high school, extracurricular activities and college planning will keep you very busy.

This step-by-step Junior Year Roadmap will help.

  • PSATs- Students should take these in the fall of the junior year. I do not recommend spending time and money to study for the PSATs, given in October, unless the student is aiming for academic recognition as a high scorer and planning to devote serious time and energy in preparation.

    Otherwise, and I know this sounds like heresy, but usually you are better off putting your time, and the money for coaching, into the ones that matters, the SAT or ACT.

    The exception to this advice is for those students who are studying to be one of the top 50,000 scorers on the PSAT.

    The 50,000 scorers of the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index Score in the three tested areas of math, critical reading, and English Writing, qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Of these about 34,000 students receive Letters of Commendation in recognition of the academic promise.


    National Merit Scholarship Program

  • Grades By the time you are in the first semester of your junior year, you have exactly three semester grading periods before your grades reach the colleges to which you apply.

    • Grades are THE most important part of your college application.
  • Advanced Placement Courses In this time of failing educational systems, and because a shockingly high percentage of our high school students are not prepared for college, college admissions officers take a hard look at academic effort and rigor. Take both honors and Advanced Placement(AP) classes. They can help you GPA, help prepare you for college courses, and you may receive college credit for the course.

  • Extracurricular activities, including volunteering,

    Your Junior Year

  • I. Summer before junior year:

    • Print the Junior Year Roadmap

    • Read books, and keep track of titles. (To bring them to mind for SAT essays and college admission essays.)

    • Acquire either a Social Security number or ID number for use on applications and in college. I always suggest using another ID number than Soc. Sec. number. (Identity theft) The only places that can legally require your Soc. Sec. number is the government and financial institutions.

    • Brag book info: think about your goals, family, life's experiences, hobbies, growth.

    • Do not worry about "what you want to be, or to study. Think about areas of interest. You do not need to decide on a major until about your sophomore year in college, and even then 50% of college students change majors at least once. The exception to this rule would be majors such as engineering, which usually require earlier self-knowledge.

  • II. September: From now on think: grades and test scores...

    • Check over your schedule of classes carefully to be sure you are on track with college requirements. Check with your counselor.

    • See "Extracurricular Activities" below.

    • If you have not done so, visit

      The College Board Web Site.

    • Sign up for PSATs if you want practice in test taking in actual test environment. Study for it as if planning for regular, 10 section exam. (PSAT consists of five sections.)

    • Pay attention to school announcements about college fairs, and attend.

    • Start to be organized about college information and material.

    • Athletes: check out our pages on coaches, sports, recruiting, scholarships, and general info.

  • III. October:

    • Take PSAT if you did not take in your Sophomore year.

    • With new rules for the reporting of SAT scores to school, you can take it as often as you wish, with only your choice of scores going to colleges. I would recommend taking the regular SAT in the fall if you have prepared. I cannot tell you how nice it is to get that out of your life, or to know now if you have to take it again. Do not retake the SAT unless you study more than you did for your first test. Waste of time and money.

  • IV. November:

    • Begin to keep a calendar, and a two month planner.Write down dates for tests, etc.

    • Be organized about college information you gather, or receive in the mail - a file cabinet is best, but at least throw the info into one drawer.

    • Begin to look into financial aid, and talk to your parents about their financial abilities and expectations.

    • Check out colleges of interest, especially if you are interested in fine arts or performing arts. Ask teachers about portfolios, check out our "Performing Arts" pages for info about auditions and portfolio requirements.

  • V. December:

    • Remember to keep up your grades, and be planning for finals. You have three semesters left before the colleges see your grades. Make them count.

    • Are you preparing for SATs

      and/or The ACTs>

    • At the College Board Site, sign up for the SAT question of the day, sent to your email address. Then be sure to DO the question each time one arrives. (Great study help.)

    • Over the Christmas break, study for finals, finish any projects, and think about potential colleges.

  • VII. January:

    • Finals - study hard.

    • Begin to look online at colleges , and register on their sites. IF you are interested in college athletics, or any special field of study, such as fine arts, engineering, architecture, etc., in addition to registering at the college info sites, look for those departments of interest and sign up there too.

    • If you are planning to take the SAT Subject Matter tests, plan now. For instance, if you are taking American History, or AP American History, consider taking the Subject Matter test in one of those subjects in May or June, right around finals time and the date of the AP national test.

    • Sign up for March SAT or ACT exam.

  • VII. February:

    • Start out your second semester by hitting the books, and studying for upcoming SATs, ACTs, SAT Subject Matter Tests. Check out test requirements at schools of interest to you.

    • Stick with the Junior Year Roadmap>

  • VIII. March-April

    • Sign up for ACTs. or May SATs. Check ACT and SAT schedules.

    • Work on college list.

    • Begin to gather information about colleges. Attend college fairs, look up schools on the Net, take virtual tours online, and register at the sites of those schools you think you might like. Keep all your stuff in files.

    • Athletes need to be especially organized when being scouted or looked at by coaches from colleges. Check out NCAA requirements. Talk to your coach.
    • Spring break is a good time to visit colleges. I generally recommend studying colleges from printed and online information, and then visiting after you have been accepted. Saves a lot of money, and these days with

      Virtual Reality College Tours

      Touring campuses

      GOOGLE EARTH and GOOGLE MAPS: With these amazing tools, you can find your campuses of interest, zoom around and look at everything.

      In California, All About EAP testing in late March, early April

      These days there is all kinds of college information available, and you can learn everything about a college and its campus without going there, except for how you "feel" when you are there. I suggest not making expensive college-visit trips until after you apply and if you are accepted. Saves lots of money.

    • If you do decide to visit:

    • Stay involved with extracurricular and volunteering activities.

    • IX. May June:

      • Ask your high school counselor for a free SAT Preparation Booklet.

      • Study for exams. Hard. Get tutored if you have fallen behind or let your grade slip in a class.

      • Look for summer jobs, and for volunteer activities.


      About extracurricular activities, and how to manage them

      Some general SAT stuff:

    • SATs, and ACTs- If you can motivate yourself to prepare for, and take your SAT I Reasoning Test and/or ACTs in the fall of your junior year, and do well on them, you are ahead of the game. OR If you don't do as well as you hoped, you can take them again in January.

      The later in the year that you take them, the greater the chance you will end up extending your test taking into the late spring when you are taking AP exams, or in the fall just as you are busy with all the other aspects of college applications.

      Remember too, if you are applying to a school that requires the SAT II Subject Matter Tests (usually two or three exams) you still need to take those in addition to the ACT or the SAT Reasoning I Exam.

      Schools have deadlines as to the last time in the fall of your senior year that you can take the tests. Most schools require that all testing be completed by the third week in December, but the California State College system requires that all testing be completed by the end of October.

      Here is my ideal plan:

      • SAT I, and/or ACTs for the first time, in the fall of your junior year.

      • If necessary, take SAT I, and/or ACT for the second time early the second semester of your junior year. This gives you some room if you need to take it again.

      • Advanced Placement Exams: Early May.

      • SAT Subject Matter Tests: If you are taking AP classes, take your SAT Subject Matter tests at the May seating of the SAT exams. Hence, you will have prepared for the exam by studying for the AP Exam.

      • Take SAT Subject Matter tests for non-AP classes in June.


    • The SATs and the ACTs

      The SATs


      Athletes and Sports in College

      College Search Engines

      Summer Between Junior and Senior Year

    • The Summer- Fill your summer with meaningful activities. This can include work, volunteering, college immersion classes, sports camps, or other pursuits. When job hunting, look for job possibilities in which you can demonstrate responsibility or leadership. (Colleges love leadership.)

      The summer between your junior and senior year is a good time for self-assessment. This will help you in your college search.

      • Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses.

      • Cross check your GPA, and test scores if you have them, with the requirements of your schools of interest.

      • Think about your achievements, honors, future plans. (Don't worry if you have no idea what you want to study in college.)

      • Large campus? Small school?

      • Urban, rural?

      • Be realistic as you look at yourself, and as you set your goals.

      • Make a list of your colleges of choice: divide your list into "reach" schools, "probable" schools and "safety" schools.

        Remember that many of our country's most successful and prominent citizens did not attend Designer Label colleges and universities, they attended local colleges, state colleges, and sometimes went to junior college for the first couple of years.

        Sit down with your parents and talk about college expense. If your family will need financial aid, now is the time to begin to learn about the process.

    • Shred the Junior HIgh School Roadmap and Get Acquainted with the the Senior Calendar

      High School Summer Programs

      All About Financial Aid

      Scholarships: Free Money

      Almost to your Senior Year: a few comments

      When you sign up for your classes for next year, remember to keep up a full, rigorous schedule.

      Many schools, especially these days, look carefully at your senior year schedule, after they receive your application. At the end of your second semester of your senior year, they take a hard look at grades, and courses to see that you have maintained your grades, and taken the classes you indicated you would take, on your application.

      Some schools have been known to rescind acceptances.

      OKAY, you made it through your junior year. One more to go.

      Guess what? Here's a schedule for your senior year

      The Entire Admissions Process

      College Applications


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