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Top Priorities for High School Juniors in the Spring Semester: From College Prep to Extracurriculars

Welcome to the first week of something we like to call #transitiontuesdayz, where we dedicate Tuesdays to educating, empowering, and helping high school and college students prepare for graduation and their transition to college or the real world.


Here, we'll talk about everything, from academics, standardized testing, college applications and admissions, campus life, internships, personal development, relationship building, gelling with roommates or professors, and, strategies for making it across the graduation stage and into a successful future.


To kick off our first #transitiontuesdayz, I'd like to cover a few key things that every high school junior should be focusing on.


As spring blooms and the end of the school year approaches, high school juniors may find themselves in a weird space with feelings of anxiety and surrealism about senior year being just months away. While they technically have the summer to enjoy, the reality of graduation is still very sobering for at least the students we've talked to. Then there's the added pressure of ensuring junior year ends on a high note, as it's the most important year of their high school experience.


For college-bound students, with college on the near horizon, it's essential to start laying the groundwork for their future academic success. For students still deciding whether to attend college right away or at all, take notes anyway. Let's discuss a couple of top priorities that college-bound high school juniors should be focusing on this spring:

Black Girl College Prep: Spring Priorities for 11th graders

Researching Colleges and Narrowing Down Options:

Spring is the perfect time for juniors to reserve spring break to visit and contact schools while diving into college research and narrowing down their list of potentials. I recommend getting this list down to a solid 5–10 schools to avoid being too overwhelmed. Students can take advantage of this time by exploring colleges' websites, attending virtual college fairs, and scheduling campus visits if possible. The best way to funnel the list is by considering academic programs, campus culture, location, size, and cost factors. Creating a balanced list of dream schools, feasible schools, and safety schools will ensure that juniors have various options to choose from during application time. For a complimentary copy of our college organizer, join our mailing list here


Preparing for Standardized Tests:

While standardized testing requirements continue to evolve, and not all schools require them, many colleges still consider SAT or ACT scores as part of their admissions process. I believe students should still take the test (especially if they can test for free), even if the school doesn't require testing. Having scores on file can help you stand out and even support scholarship applications (if you score well).


Let's say you've already taken the test and are not pleased with the results. There are a few summer test options. Just be sure to allow enough study time to prepare for these exams by reviewing content, taking practice tests, and familiarizing themselves with the format and timing of the tests. Remember to register for upcoming test dates well in advance to secure your spot. Click here for ACT dates and here for SAT dates. 


Building Relationships with Teachers and Counselors:

Networking and connecting with adults and teachers will be key during this time. Strong letters of recommendation can play a crucial role in the college admissions process. Also, having a community of adults to help you navigate this transition is golden. Take advantage of the spring semester to strengthen your relationships with teachers and counselors who can provide insightful recommendations. If you need to apologize to some teachers for your behavior, please do. It's never too late to repair any broken relationships. You'll need all the support you can get.


Participate actively in class, ask for help when needed, and engage in extracurricular activities that showcase your skills and character. Also, be sure to ask for feedback by scheduling meetings with your guidance counselor to discuss your college plans, academic progress, and any questions or concerns you may have.


Exploring Extracurricular Activities and Leadership Opportunities:

Colleges are always looking for students who demonstrate commitment! That said, extracurricular involvement, volunteerism, community service, and leadership all look great!

Use the spring semester to explore new interests, join clubs, volunteer, and take on leadership roles within your school or community. Whether participating in sports, volunteering for a cause you're passionate about, or pursuing a hobby, extracurricular activities allow juniors to showcase their talents, interests, and values to college admissions committees. These are also incredible resume builders, especially if you haven't gained work experience just yet. 


If you are a student hoping to secure an athletic scholarship, make sure you're having your games filmed, earning playing time, keeping your grades up, participating in your sport-specific camps that are available, and meeting coaching, athletic directors, and recruiters. You'll have to be very intentional about getting your name out there.


Starting to Draft Your College Application Essays:

Juniors should work hard to avoid being shortsighted and procrastinating. It may seem like there's plenty of time to work on your college essays, but there isn't. Though the official college application season may still be several months away, it's never too early for juniors to start thinking about their college application essays. If applications are started now, in October, students will find themselves more relieved.


Begin brainstorming potential essay topics, reflecting on significant experiences, challenges, or achievements that have shaped your identity and aspirations. Remember to ask for feedback from teachers, counselors, or trusted mentors while writing and revising your essays. Starting early will give you ample time to refine your writing and ensure that your essays effectively share your unique voice and perspective with admissions officers.


 

There is so much to focus on this spring semester of junior year, and the more proactive and intentional you are, the easier the transition into senior year will be. By prioritizing these core tasks—researching colleges, preparing for standardized tests, building meaningful relationships, exploring extracurricular activities, and starting to draft college application essays—juniors can ensure a successful transition to the next phase of their academic journey with confidence and purpose.


For additional support, download your complimentary college application organizer here.



Xo,

Coach Rahk





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