Fall of Junior Year
1. Take the PSAT
Many students choose to take the PSAT exam in preparation for the SAT or ACT exam in the following semesters, but it is not required for college admission.
2. Plan your SAT/ACT dates
38% of students take the SAT during their junior year, so now is a great time to check dates, especially if you’re planning on taking the SAT/ACT more than once.
3. Evaluate what type of school you want to go to
4. Start to put together your college list
Whenever you search schools on Niche, you can simply click “Add to List” next to the school name on its profile or in the results of our College Search tool. That way, you can easily access the school profiles of each school to continue your research.
Spring of Junior Year
1. Potentially take your first SAT or ACT exam
Taking standardized tests in the spring can be a first attempt at the score you really want. Many students will take the SAT or ACT again in the fall. Once you get your scores, you can check out these articles to help guide your college search:
2. Start to get serious about scholarship search
If you haven’t started your scholarship already, now is the time to get serious. We have a scholarship search tool that allows you to find different scholarships by interest, state, major, and more.
3. Contact your recommendation writers
Get ahead of the game and give your recommendation writers plenty of time by asking them now. Requesting a recommendation last minute will result in a less-than-great review.
Summer Before Senior Year
1. Schedule and go on college campus visits
Long summer days are perfect for scheduling in some campus visits, an essential part of feeling out whether a school is a fit for you. On each of our college profiles, you’ll find a link to the admissions website for that school where you can find information about campus tours.
2. Start gathering your college list and begin applications
Once you have an idea of your standardized test scores and have visited a few schools, you might be ready to make some decisions. It’s a good idea to include at least one safety school and one reach school in your repertoire of colleges. How many schools should you be applying to? It’s ultimately up to you– about 50% of students apply to 5+ schools.
3. Talk with your parents about what you need in terms of financial aid
Cost is one of the greatest deciding factors among students, so it’s important to talk to your parents about what they can contribute financially and what you ultimately can afford. If you’re trying to find the best school for the least amount of money, here are two resources that can help:
You can also visit the profile of each college on Niche to see the “After [College Name]” section, where you can find out your expected earnings and debt 5 and 10 years after graduation.
4. Prepare for Early Decision / Early Action
Pretty sure you’re destined for only one of the schools on your list? You can apply early for Early Decision (binding) or Early Action (non-binding).
Early Decision is for students who want to commit to one school early, without waiting until May to find out their acceptance status. Early Action is for students who want to apply early to a school they’re very sure they would like to go to, but do not want to commit to quite yet. This group will also get their acceptance notification early.
5. Preview Your To-Do List for Senior Year
Make sure you’re prepared for fall by viewing our Applying to College Guide for Senior Year.
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