Junior year, in my opinion, is the most important year for college-bound students. This is when students start researching and narrowing down which colleges they are actually going to apply to.
Junior year is the hardest academically for most students. This is also the last year that grades will be listed on your transcripts that are sent to colleges along with your applications. Therefore, it is important to stay on track with your grades, make sure you are meeting any special requirements, and remain motivated to finish strong.
Junior year students can start to finalize their college list that will consist of at least 2 reach schools, 2-3 target schools, and 1-2 safety schools based on the research they have been doing unofficially since Freshmen year.
Usually I recommend students to take their SAT/ACT beginning of Junior year which means the preparation for the same should start beginning of Sophomore year which gives them enough time for taking practice tests and work on the areas that needs more practice. It is important to create a testing plan that ensures you know not only the dates ACT/SAT test are administered but the deadlines for registration for the dates students plan to take the test and continue preparing to do your very best on these test while you are in the sophomore year.
And last but certainly not least start to think about and draft your personal statement. The Common Application also referred to as Common App, usually provides the personal statement prompt questions for the next years application cycle sometime in February but no later than April.
What is the Common App you ask? The Common Application is used for undergraduate admissions by nearly 700 colleges and universities. The Common Application is an electronic college application system that collects a wide range of information: personal data, educational data, standardized test scores, family information, academic honors, extracurricular activities, work experience, a personal essay, and criminal history.
Because of the popularity of the Common App many high schools use the common app prompts as a starting point to help our students draft their personal statements. Students often think writing a personal statement will be simple but it is probably one of the hardest essays your young scholar will write.
Getting started early allows time to create multiple drafts, to have teachers, parents, and older siblings to review and make suggestions to improve your essay and finally getting an early start will allow more time to address supplemental essay questions most colleges ask in addition to the personal statement essay, which you typically won't have access to until you are ready to apply.