It’s never too early to get a head start on a good thing, and your junior year of high school is just the time. With college about a year away, here’s a month-by-month checklist to make the college search process both manageable and successful.
Meet with your college counselor. Ask for recommendations based on what they know about you, but work with them to explain what you want out of your collegiate experience. Additionally, find one way to get involved in your community. Universities place an importance on not only what you do in school, but also where your interests lie outside of the classroom.
Create a list of schools that you are interested in. Take note of majors that interest you, locations of the schools, and different student experiences that universities can offer you.
Insider Tip: With St. Edward’s location in Austin, I was drawn to the university's Outdoor Adventure Program. With facilitated group camping, biking and skiing trips, I was able to take advantage of all the outdoor opportunities Austin and Texas had to offer.
Lots of schools are offering virtual webinars, on-demand video, and online info sessions. Get connected with schools you like virtually and on social media. Low resource activities like these can make a big impact on your search process.
As the semester winds down, take some time and do some college visits that are close to home. Not only is this the best way to learn about a school, but this will also help you learn about what to look for at other college visits as well. Although there may not be students on campus, admissions offices will have their offices open and available for tours.
Make a list of application specifics for the top schools on your list. Many institutions will have similar requirements and deadlines, but make a note of every date and deadline.
Study, study, study! Your junior year is a great time to continue focusing on building your GPA. Using the research and application specifics that you’ve looked into, you’ll have a good insight of some benchmarks for specific institutions admissions decisions.
Spring break is a perfect time to visit schools you like and many admissions offices have specific events for interested prospective students during spring break.
Insider Tip: Taco trucks are the best way to get a sense of all the amazing food the city has to offer. (Check out Las Trancas Taco Truck on East Cesar Chavez!) After, go check out the new public library in the Seaholm District, which has a rooftop view that lets you see all of South Austin’s hills and neighborhoods.
As the semester winds down, remember that the college search process is for one person only: you. Use this month to review information from your visits and think about where you want to apply, although a few more schools may pop up on your radar this summer and into the fall.
As applications become more holistic and schools look for students with a diverse set of skills to offer the university, take the summer to develop interests and skills outside of the classroom.
Insider Tip: Sending out a resume and a cover letter to a mentor or a family friend is a simple way to get your name in employers’ hands. If you find an interesting company or job, don’t be afraid to reach out. A lot of companies can use an extra set of hands.
Sam Griffith ’19 was an English Writing and Rhetoric major at St. Edward’s University in Austin. He is pursuing a graduate degree in documentary storytelling.