Junior Year Preparation for College

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The Unigo Expert Network is a group of top education experts from across the US answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school.
See answers from the Dean of Admissions from University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan, and have your questions answered at www.unigo.com/expertnetwork 
As a junior looking to stay on top of my college admissions timeline, what are the most important things for me to be doing before senior year starts?– Andrew S., Renton, WA
A: This is your chance to stand out from the crowd!
Junior year is essential to college admissions. Let colleges know you can maintain good grades. If you haven’t worked your hardest, challenge yourself to improve your performance this semester and next. Be well prepared for SATs/ACTs, studying and practicing on your own or with a tutor. Give extracurricular activities an extra boost. Colleges are looking for students who show initiative, leadership, passion, and significant service. Volunteer in your school or community and explore summer academic and internship opportunities. If you’ve been active, look for ways to enhance those activities – e.g. become an officer, run a community drive, increase your service hours.
          Laurie Favaro – Independent College Counselor, Favaro College Counseling
A: Organizing for senior year
As a parent, a helpful role is that of chief organizer, as an extraordinary amount of information needs to be gathered. While much information is now electronic, sometimes it is helpful to have an old fashioned portfolio. A three-ring binder with pocket files or clear sleeves with sections for: Semester Grades, Activities, Awards, Special Certificates, Outstanding assignments, SAT/ACT dates and scores, Monthly Calendar with college visits and fairs, Essay drafts, and so on. Leave the binder in an obvious place, place the deadline dates on the family calendar as well, making sure your student has the dates. Hopefully, that is all the encouragement needed.
          Sandy Furth – College Advisor, World Student Support
A: Learn the process so you can plan for Success
By your junior year you should have a list of colleges that you are interested in attending. Contact an admissions counselor at each of these colleges to learn about the admissions process and requirements. This information will be useful in determining if you meet the admissions requirements and also in planning your campus visits during your senior year. Also get the contact information of the admissions counselor you speak to and ask if you can contact him/her in the future. Lastly, find out if a college accepts the Common Application. The Common Application can save you valuable time and energy.
          Kekoa Morton – Student Services Manager, University of Redlands School of Business
A: As the old saying goes “Poor preparation will lead to poor performance”
Putting together a college budget with your parents during the senior year can help alleviate some of the stress of college preparation. Budgeting early could reveal the possibility of not being able to go to college due to lack of funds.  It is important to start putting together a budget of projected college expenses in your junior year based on your top college choices.  This will allow you to research affordable colleges and sources of revenue for your education (such as scholarships, financial aid, work-study, or other sources).  Your parents should be able to sit down with you and outline how much (if any) they can contribute and offer helpful suggestions on how to make your budget. 
          Doris Sarr – Director of Adventures in Math & Science, Murray State University
A: Stay Focused and Remember This Is All About You
There is plenty on your to-do list as a college-bound junior but don’t lose sight of how important your 11th grade academic work will be when your application is reviewed.  Stay focused on success in the classroom—that’s really important!  Then, as you make your list of colleges, consider carefully whether they reflect the academic environment in which you will be challenged and offer the opportunities you are keen to pursue.  The best college for you may not be the name most familiar to you or the college that’s best for your friend.  Take time to carefully consider what’s important to you and let that drive your college search. 
          Nancy Benedict – Vice President for Enrollment, Beloit College
Don’t miss answers by the Dean of Admissions from University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan, and more – at www.unigo.com/expertnetwork.  To send your question to our experts, visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions
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