Actually, It’s Junior Year That Is Important

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This fall you will walk into junior year thinking all you have to do about college is not much.  Just see where your friends go and take one of those tests.  But it is not that simple.  What you get done during junior year is crucial to providing you with options that help shape the list of colleges that reflect you.

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Here are some thoughts for your junior year.  Relax, these ideas are meant to be spread out over the year so there still will be plenty of time to have fun and enjoy the good life of high school!

  • Tests – If you haven’t already found your test – SAT or ACT – narrow it down and focus on one.  Then keep trying that test until you have the scores you are comfortable with.  Most schools will superscore your test scores and some like Furman are test optional. If you believe your scores are not a true reflection of your abilities, Furman gives you the choice to not submit scores.  This does not mean you should skip working on your standardized tests.

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  • Naviance – Spend some time each week exploring schools.  Look up every school you hear mentioned at lunch or your parents’ friends mention.  There are many schools out there and just because your friends haven’t heard of it doesn’t mean it is not nationally ranked or recognized in certain fields.

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  • Get to know schools – Don’t judge a school without meeting it!  Attend as many college’s presentations, visits to your school and even large college fairs.  Attend a counselor conversation if a college offers it.  Furman’s counselors will host at least one afternoon/evening in an area where you can reserve a time to speak directly with our counselor about the school and your personal plan.  It is hard to travel to schools so take advantage of these local events.

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  • Visits – If you can visit a school, plan ahead!  Attend the informational tour but also take advantage of offers to meet with a current student for lunch or attend a class. Seeing a college student’s regular day, will let you see if you would be happy and successful on that campus. At Furman, our faculty are happy to host visiting students in their classes and will often take some time at the end of class for you to ask questions or for our students to share their experiences.

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  • Recommendations – Start thinking about which teacher might be willing to write about you.  In the spring, approach one or two and ask them if they would write a letter on your behalf. It is especially nice if you hand them a copy of your “resume” which reminds them of all the things you are juggling while doing well in their class.  Approach them in the spring so they have plenty of time to write, if you wait until the fall of senior year your request will be lost in the pile and that swamped teacher will not have the time to write all he wants to about you his favorite student!

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  • Don’t slack – This is the easiest (or most challenging) part of junior year.  Keep up those grades but try to stay fully involved with clubs, teams or work. It is a difficult balancing act. Each person has their own personal balancing point.  Furman applicants and students have all found their unique balance of grades, activities, scores and experiences.  By achieving their own combination of these areas, they have allowed themselves many different options to pursue during senior year.

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By treating the entire junior year as more than “just taking the standardized tests”, a rising senior will be ready to ease into the final focused efforts of the application process. You, your parents and counselor will be feeling good with all the options you have at your disposal since you planned & worked ahead.  Don’t start senior year filled with panic and stress.


By: Lise Ann, Admissions Counselor


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