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  • Writer's pictureKate-Jen Barker-Schlegel

What Juniors can do RIGHT NOW to help them get into College

We know, we know….11th graders constantly hear that junior year is the most important year when it comes to getting into college. While this statement is not wrong, it is not 100% right. What do you need to do Junior Year to help you get into college? Read on to find out!

1. GET GOOD GRADES!!! GPA actually matters. This is not a myth or something that your parents say just to make you feel stressed. When evaluating a college application, almost every college in the U.S. considers two factors to be the most significant: rigor of coursework and GPA. Colleges want to see that you have an innate sense of intellectual curiosity, a passion for learning, and a strong work ethic. What better way to prove this than by taking classes that challenge you and by getting good grades? Try to keep all of your grades in the A to B range. If you have a C or two, don’t sweat it – you can always attach a short paragraph to your application explaining what happened. Most schools look for a GPA of 3.5 or above. Highly competitive schools want a GPA of 3.75 or above. While there are quite a few that will consider a GPA in the 3.0 to 3.5 range, and even some that will go lower, please know that a higher GPA will give you more options. It's all about choices. The higher your GPA, the more choices you will have!!!

2. GET INVOLVED!!! Colleges like to accept students who have contributed to their high school community. If you have not yet joined a few school clubs, played a sport, or participated in the school musical….this is the time! Anything and everything is on the table – from your school's Chess club to the youth group at your synagogue to your afterschool job at a convenience store. Getting involved shows that you can work with others, have a wide range of interests, and enjoy being part of a team.

3. DO SOME COMMUNITY SERVICE!!! Many supplemental essay questions on the Common Application ask students how they have experienced diversity, overcome obstacles, or recognized and addressed need in their community. Show schools that you care about the world around you and that you are a compassionate individual. Sign up to work at a soup kitchen, lead a drive to collect canned food for a local homeless shelter, or dance for 24 hours to raise money for cancer research. Colleges want students who can think beyond themselves and have a sense of social responsibility.

4. PREP FOR AND TAKE THE SAT OR ACT!!! Most colleges and universities in the US are (thankfully) test optional right now. However, we do not know when this will change. Some schools have already returned to their pre-COVID policy and now require the SAT or ACT. A strong SAT or ACT can enhance your application. Again… it's all about choices. If you don’t take the SAT or ACT or don’t do well on either test, no worries! But if you do, it can increase your chances of admission.

5. PLAN FOR SUMMER NOW!!! Find a new and exciting way to build on one of your existing passions or activities during the summer. Remember, you will be busy completing your applications, but don’t be afraid to take on a new challenge. Here are a few suggestions: volunteer for a non-profit, coach a children’s athletic team, get a job in a field that interests you, or take a class at your local community college. Any of these summer experiences will show colleges that you are naturally curious, are accustomed to hard work, and/or are passionate about helping others.

Junior year can be such a fantastic experience. Focus on your grades but also your life outside of the classroom. Remember to carry this pattern over into your senior year. Colleges want to know that you continue to do well academically and participate in extracurriculars long after your applications have been submitted. Senior year counts too!!!!!

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