It’s March of your student’s Junior year – what should he or she be doing?
Take the SATs and/or ACTs
First, let’s start out with the SATs and ACTs. The next SAT date is next Saturday, March 14. If your student hasn’t registered for the March SAT or are flat out not prepared to take it, the next SAT date is May 2. The registration deadline for the May SAT is April 3. After that, the next one is June 6. If your student is planning on taking the ACT, the next ACT date is April 4. The registration deadline was February 28, however they can still register from February 29 – March 13 as a late registrant. If that one doesn’t work for your student, the next one is June 13.
I highly encourage all Juniors to take the SATs and/or the ACTs for the first time during the Spring. This will give your student an idea of where they are and show them where they need to improve. Some students will wait to take their first round of SATs and/or ACTs until the end of the summer, but this does not leave a lot of time for the student to study/improve for the next SAT or ACT. In addition, the beginning of senior year is CRAZY with getting back into the swing of things at school and doing college applications. It can be overwhelming. If your student is taking the SATs or ACTs a second time – I recommend taking them at the end of the summer before school starts.
Start researching schools
If your student hasn’t already done so, he/she should start researching schools. Whether they are working with a counselor at school or a private college planner, now is the time to starting asking your student these questions:
- What does college look like to your student? Is he/she interested in a 4-year college/university or community college?
- What does your student want to major in? If they don’t know, then consider looking at schools that have a general curriculum where they don’t have to declare a major until sophomore year.
- Does your student want to stay in California or go somewhere else?
- Does your student want a small, medium or large school?
- Does your student want to live in a city, near a city or somewhere more rural?
- Does your student want a big sports/Greek life?
- How much can you, as a family, really afford? Do you have other children attending college soon?
These are only a few of the questions to ask your student to get them started. As they delve deeper into their research, your student will start to get the hang of where they envision themselves. They will also start seeing the average GPA and SATs/ACTs that students attending those schools have. Remember — these are averages, not requirements.
Ultimately, your student should have a list of 8 – 12 schools: 3 – 4 reach schools, 4 – 5 likely schools and 2 – 3 safety schools.
Summer will be here in no time. The summer between Junior and Senior year is always the toughest because students want to enjoy their summer, but must still work to prepare for college application season. I tell my students that it is the one summer they have to buckle down to prepare for college and then they never have to do it again (unless you are going to graduate school). The students that heed my advice have a much better college application experience than those that don’t. Those that don’t are super stressed and scrambling. The sooner they get started on the process, the better.