This post is the third in our series Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities, a 4-part series for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.
As it becomes increasingly difficult to gain admission into the country’s elite schools, knowing how to navigate the system should become important for you.
Tips for High School Juniors
1. Continue to take AP courses and tests.
Schools use the junior year as a cornerstone for your academic achievement. Now is the time to excel.
2. Decide whether to take the SAT (and for some schools, SAT subject tests) or the ACT with writing and get assistance in preparing for these tests.
You will take them in your junior year, but you will have another opportunity to take the test in the summer. You must be diligent in practicing for these exams outside of preparation classes or tutoring sessions. Work with your peers or faculty through problems you don’t understand. Practice tests will show you your weaknesses and it will be up to you to find the appropriate means to strengthen those weaknesses. Most universities accept both the ACT and the SAT, but consider your top schools and make sure that the test you choose is a test they evaluate.
3. Ask 2-4 teachers if they can write you an outstanding recommendation.
Most schools require two teachers, but if you plan to apply to 20 schools, you are putting a lot of burden on those teachers. Split it up and give them less of a work load.
4. Take on more leadership or get involved in something you care deeply about.
Schools are looking to see that you can push your own boundaries and always strive to achieve your best.
5. Begin to think about your place in the world and what you hope to achieve.
6. Use your winter and spring breaks to visit schools.
Attend school visits to your city. Talk with alumni, current students (most schools have ambassadors that live in your city). Get to know your regional admissions officer and make sure you are top of mind as an intelligent leader and team player. Let them know your passions. Follow up with all correspondence to everyone connected with the schools of your choice.
7. Narrow down your school list.
You should have some stretch schools 2-3, some match schools 5-7 and some safety schools 2-3. If you are not sure how to narrow down your search, Accepted can assist you with this task.
8. Clean up all potentially negative social media.
If it doesn’t reflect well on you, it could hurt your chances of acceptance.
9. Look for summer work that will not only give you extra spending money, but also opportunities to learn more about a field that interests you.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series, Getting Ready to Apply to Top Tier Colleges and Universities: Senior Year.
By Natalie Grinblatt Epstein, former admissions dean/director at three top business schools. Natalie has reviewed over 70,000 applications, interviewed over 2,500 candidates, and has trained nearly 700 admissions directors and alumni volunteers to select outstanding candidates for admission. Her clients gain admission to top programs including Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Cornell, Columbia, Berkeley, and NYU. Natalie holds an MBA from Michigan Ross. Want Natalie to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• Preparing for College in High School, a free guide
• Should You Take the ACT Before Spring of Junior Year?
• 11 Tips for Visiting College Campuses