30 Resources for Your Junior Year of High School
Junior year can be a frenzy of activity. There are the usual academics and extracurriculars, both of which are probably picking up pace as college applications near. In addition, there are test prep, college planning, and a number of other smaller considerations that might be less time consuming but are no less important. If you don’t plan ahead and capitalize on the resources available to you, it’s easy to see how you could fall behind.
Don’t let junior year get the best of you. Read our list of 30 resources to help you with all of the important logistics. Here, we’ll categorize all the important things that need to happen or be planned during your junior year and provide resources to help with each.
As you look towards college applications, your academic performance during your junior year will be of the utmost importance, for two reasons. First, you’ll need to achieve high grades to submit an impressive and competitive transcript for your college applications. Second, you’ll need to actually ensure through your hard work in high school that you’re capable of college-level work by the time you start college.
Here are some resources to help you along the way:
1. Advanced placement classes. AP classes are college-level courses that you can take while you’re still in high school. If you score well on your end-of-year AP exams, you can even sometimes receive college credit or advanced standing. If you want to learn more about these classes, check out the College Board AP Student website or read up on specific classes in the CollegeVine series of AP blog posts.
2. Quizlet. Think about all the time you’ve put into creating and studying from flashcards or homemade quizzes. Wonder if there’s an easier way? Quizlet is essentially a database of online study sets created and used by students just like you. You can create your own online flashcards or search for sets already created. Be careful though; these quizzes are all created by students just like you, so there could be errors present. Carefully review any set of quiz questions before using them to study.
3. Free online college-level courses. If your high school doesn’t offer AP classes, you have another option for engaging in college-level work. Numerous providers offer free, online college-level courses. The Open Education Consortium and Saylor Academy are a few examples of organizations that offer college curriculum free for self-study. Not only will courses like these improve your comprehension and boost your level of learning, they’ll also serve as a testament to your dedication to higher learning.
It’s tempting to think that if you are doing well in school, you’ll automatically do well on your SAT or ACT. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Standardized test content, format, and strategy is very specific. No matter your GPA, you’ll need to prepare specifically for the test.
Get started with one of these handy tools.
5. ACT or SAT Official Test Websites. The logical place to start preparing for your standardized test is through the official test website. These sites provide everything from content overviews to official practice strategies. You can also create an online user account to register for tests and to access and send your score reports.
6. Khan Academy. If you’re taking the SAT, Khan Academy will become an invaluable resource for you. This online learning hub is the official training partner of the SAT and it provides video tutorials, practice tests, sample questions, and strategy tips. You can search the tutorials by specific subject matter or you can progress through them in the order they appear on the actual SAT.
7. Complete SAT Calendar or Complete ACT Calendar. The SAT and ACT are only offered around seven times each school year. The anticipated test dates are generally announced over a year in advance and are confirmed the summer before the school year begins. In addition to knowing the exact test dates, you’ll also want to check out registration deadlines and score release dates. It’s important to schedule your tests well in advance so that you can ensure that you take all of the tests you’ll need to apply to the schools you’re interested in, with enough time to receive and send score reports before application deadlines.
8. SAT Daily Practice App and ACT Question of the Day. Both the SAT and the ACT provide programs for daily practice. The SAT Daily Practice App can be downloaded to your mobile device and challenges you with one daily question, with the options to reveal a hint if you’re stuck or read answer explanations to learn from your mistakes. The app also provides a handy scan-and-score feature that allows you to scan and score your practice test answer sheet using the camera on your phone. The ACT Question of the Day is available through your free, online ACT account and allows you to view questions, answers, and explanations in a weekly email sent to you automatically.
Creating a College List
Another top priority during junior year should be creating a short list of colleges to which you’d like to apply. With over 7,000 undergraduate institutions in the country, whittling the list down to only a dozen is no small feat. You’ll need to consider things like region, selectivity, special programs, and more.
For a more specific idea of where to get started, check out these resources.
10. 10 Considerations for Making Your College List. If you’re just getting started with creating a college list, it’s hard to know where to begin. This list from CollegeVine includes ten top considerations that should get you thinking about your priorities in choosing a college. Use the list to start narrowing down your choices and to spark your thinking about what features and aspects of a college are most important to you.
11. The Big Future. This service from the College Board provides tools for planning your future, including a college search that allows you to filter by location, major, selectivity, and almost any other important feature. It also offers help for students who aren’t quite sure where to start by offering some questions to help you begin to frame your thinking.
12. Online Campus Tours. Touring each and every campus that you’re interested in isn’t just time-consuming. It can also be inconvenient and even cost prohibitive. If you aren’t sure whether or not a particular campus is worth visiting, you should consider starting with an online campus tour. One popular site providing this service is eCampus Tours. Here, you’ll find a virtual tour of over 1,300 colleges searchable by state.
13. College Fairs. Another efficient way to gather more information about multiple colleges is to attend a college fair. These events typically feature representatives from a broad variety of undergraduate institutions. Here, you can ask questions about each school’s programs, campus, and student life. For some tips on how to make the most of your experience, check out CollegeVine’s How to Make the Most of a College Fair.
14. College Week Live. If you aren’t able to attend an actual college fair, or you simply aren’t able to attend one that features all of the schools you’re interested in, an online college fair is another great option. College Week Live, a partner of the International Higher Education Fair, provides the opportunity to participate in live, online chats with admissions representatives or current students at schools you’re considering attending. Check out the Event Schedule to see when specific schools will be participating.
15. Go See Campus. Go See Campus is a tool geared towards simplifying college visits. Through a free online account, you will gain access to campus maps, public transportation information, parking details, and event calendars. The site allows you to create a calendar and schedule for your college visits in order to make coordinated trips more organized.
College Application Help
You’ll need to begin planning your college applications during your junior year. This means thinking about everything from essay topics to recommendations to making the most of your extracurriculars. There is a lot to consider, and it can be overwhelming to get started when you know how important these applications will ultimately become. Luckily, there are many resources available to help.
16. Your Guidance Counselor or Adviser. Most students spend very little relative time with their guidance counselor or adviser in high school. Regardless of how much face time you’ve gotten in the past years, junior year is definitely a time to seek this person out and arrange a meeting to discuss your plans for the future. Even if your school doesn’t provide an official junior year advisory meeting, you should take the initiative to reach out and coordinate a meeting together. You should keep this person informed about your plans for the future. You never know when he or she may have important connections or advice that you can use along the way.
17. How to Get College Recommendation Letters: Building Recommender Relationships. You need to start thinking early about who will write your college recommendations. Ideally, your recommender will be someone who has known you well over a prolonged period of time. Be sure to read CollegeVine’s advice for building this relationship so that you can ensure your college recommendation reflects your best academic and extracurricular efforts and provides insights into your personality.
18. Essay Editing Services. As you begin to think about and draft your college application essay, you’ll also need to think about who is most qualified to edit it for you. While it’s probably not too difficult to line up a friend or an English teacher who is willing and capable of picking up on any spelling or grammatical errors, sometimes that’s not enough. You should choose someone who is also experienced in editing the content and style expected of a college essay.
Planning College Finances
College is an expensive endeavor. Luckily, there are resources to help, like federal financial aid and many scholarships, both need-based and merit-based. Of course, in order to take advantage of these, you’ll need to have a good idea of where to look. Here are some of our favorite resources for planning your college finances.
19. Federal Student Aid. The Federal Student Aid agency is an office of the U.S. Department of Education. It provides information about the types of aid available to students, how to apply for aid, and how to manage student loans. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step towards securing need-based financial aid towards college. You can read more about the process for applying in CollegeVine’s Ultimate Guide to Filling Out the FAFSA.
20. Scholarship Search Engines. Financial aid isn’t the only way to finance your college education. You can also get funding through merit- or need-based scholarships. Many online search providers exist for collecting information about possible scholarships. Fastweb provides one of the most comprehensive options with access over 1.5 million scholarships to help you pay for college.
21. College Reality Check. College Reality Check is sponsored by the Chronicle of Higher Education and acts as an online tool to help students to estimate the net cost of college, along with providing important information about earning potential, graduation rates, and debt repayment.
22. Raise.me. Did you know it’s possible to earn college funding by doing things like receiving high grades and participating in service projects? Raise.me partners with select colleges that offer “micro-scholarships” to students for their high school achievements. Simply create an account and log your accomplishments to see how much money you can raise towards your education at over 200 colleges. While most students are able to raise a few hundred to several thousand dollars, some have raised upwards of $50,000, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
23. Adventures in Education. Adventures in Education is a public service site dedicated to helping students plan and complete the financial side of their journeys through higher education. The site goes beyond simple scholarship and financial aid services and also offers advice about tracking expenses, making a budget, and understanding lines of credit.
24. Online Scholarship Compliations. There are hundreds upon hundreds of scholarships out there; you just have to know where to look. While online search engines might provide a glimpse into some of the options best targeted to your obvious strengths, it’s always good to search multiple sites and read various compilations to make sure that you’re capitalizing on the opportunities available. You never know when you might find one of the more obscure scholarships and discover that you’re a perfect fit.
Planning a Career
Junior year of high school may seem like it’s way too early to begin planning your future career, but it’s important to at least consider possible career paths when you’re selecting a college. Some colleges have limited majors to choose from, while others specialize in specific programs. If you plan to pursue a graduate degree, you should also think about which schools can best prepare you for this. For some ideas on how to get started, consider these resources.
26. Career One Stop. Career One Stop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and provides career, training and job search resources. Interest and skills assessments give you an idea of careers you might possibly pursue based on your unique passions and experiences, while career profiles and videos provide insight into professions you might not have otherwise considered.
27. Mentoring Programs. It’s hard to get a good idea of what different professions entail and how to pursue them without a little inside knowledge. Mentoring programs provide this knowledge along with advice and insight. You can seek mentors in careers you wish to pursue, or you can find a mentor in higher education who can help to pave your path to college.
One of your primary goals for junior year should be to align your schedule, extracurriculars, and academic pursuits so that they complement one another and create a cohesive and appealing profile for your college applications. This means carefully dividing your time so that you can be both successful and well-balanced. It’s a bit of a juggling act, and it isn’t easy, but these tools can help.
28. How to Effectively Balance Your Time In High School. For more advice about choosing where to focus your energy, check out this important CollegeVine blog post. Here, we discuss how the law of diminishing returns applies to your grades and activities, how to optimize your summer, and ways to share the load with friends.
29. CollegeVine Zen. A 2014 study published by the American Psychological Association revealed that teens routinely report higher levels of stress than adults, though they are less likely to take it seriously. Recognizing and coping with the stress that comes with juggling all your commitments will make you both healthier and happier. Visit CollegeVine Zen for insight and personal stories about mental health through the college admissions process.
30. Google Calendar. Another way to find balance is by getting organized. Google Calendar is one way to keep track of important dates, deadlines, and events. It also syncs across all devices and is easily shareable with others, so you can keep your family and friends informed as well. Set alerts or notifications to make sure you don’t forget important deadlines. Keeping organized will mean you’re one set ahead, rather than always trying to catch up.
Junior year is a busy time, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming time. With support from both people and resources, you can get organized and tackle the multitude of things that need to be done.
For more information about junior year, check out these CollegeVine posts:
- Is It Too Late To Join a Club Junior or Senior Year?
- Five Things High School Juniors Need To Do This Spring
- What You Should Be Thinking About a Junior—Part 1: Academics + Standardized Tests
- What You Should Be Thinking About as a Junior — Part II: Extracurriculars and Summer Activities
- Is Junior Summer Too Early to Visit Schools?
- The 6 Things You Should Do the Summer Before Senior Year
- A Guide to Extracurricular Activities: Grade 11
Want access to expert college guidance — for free? When you create your free CollegeVine account, you will find out your real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve your profile, and get your questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Sign up for your CollegeVine account today to get a boost on your college journey.