Make a test plan so you have plenty of time to study, take, and re-take all the required tests without having to panic that you waited too long. Stick to the plan and don’t forget to register for the tests early before they fill up and you need to drive farther away.
Visit colleges of all different sizes and areas. Get an idea of what colleges feel like and what YOU feel when you are there.
Make sure you study, study, and study some more. Grades in your junior year are very important.
Sit down with your guidance counselor to decide what courses you should take next year, knowing that colleges are looking for a continued rigorous course load, even though you are a senior.
Look at your extra curricular activities. Are there any that you love more than another? Can you find a focus and make it clearer? Is there an opportunity for a leadership role?
Start working on a college list. Make sure these colleges are ones that are a good fit for you socially, financially, and academically. This is one of the most important decisions you will make, so you’ll want to choose wisely. Using an independent educational consultant may be wise if you are in need of professional help.
April – June
Keep up with your test plan, keep studying and taking either the SAT or ACT. Don’t forget the subject tests, if the schools you are considering require them. These are usually done during the May and June testing dates for the SAT.
Ask your teachers before you leave school for a recommendation. They will appreciate the heads up on this. Some teachers also limit the number of recommendations they write so by doing it ahead of time, you won’t have to worry about them declining your request.
Continue to work on your school list and try and visit as many as possible.
Sign up for interviews if the school you are looking at does interviews. For most schools, they have a limited amount of these spots so plan ahead.
Make your summer plans. Are there any classes or week long college programs you are interested in? Do you have a summer of travel or a summer of work? If possible focus on something that is your passion and/or possibly something you may want to study in college. Whatever you do, don’t do “NOTHING!!!”
Have a discussion with your parents about money and college. Everyone should be on the same page as to how school is being paid, how much is affordable, and who is responsible for what.
July – August
Fill your summer with all that you can. Figure out what makes you happy, and do it. Show responsibility by holding down a summer job, or take some enrichment classes to broaden your growth.
August 1: start your Common App essay; this can be done by the end of summer, before heading into your senior year. Getting a jump on this essay can help reduce stress in the later months.
Finalize your college list and make notice of all deadlines.
Get all financials in order; remember the FAFSA has a new October 1 open date.
If you are not completely satisfied with your ACT/SAT results, there is still time to study during the summer for the early fall tests. Don’t forget to register.