College Action Plan for H.S. Junior

Junior year is a hectic time. You are officially an upperclassman now and you have a ton of new responsibilities. But, don’t worry!  You will definitely find a way to get everything done.

While you will certainly be busy, you need to keep in mind your college goals and what you can be doing now to make them a reality. Follow this monthly college action plan to make your junior year a success!


1.  Take time to sit down with your family to finalize your college “game plan.”

  •  Who’s paying for what?
  • Do you have a college fund?
  • Are you or your parents willing to take on any loans?

2.  Meet with your high school guidance counselor to discuss your class schedule, Colleges favor students who have successfully completed challenging courses and obtained strong grades.

Please note: If you do not attend a college-prep high school, make sure these classes are in alignment with standard college requirements that were outlined in the High School Freshman College Action Plan

3.  Make a list of all the remaining college-related questions that you have. Put a plan together to get them answered by your school guidance counselor, teachers, mentors, or college representatives.

4.  Sign-up to take the PSAT. This will help get you prepared for the SAT.  Contact your guidance counselor to find out about registration, fees, date, time, and location.

5.  Make a College Folder. This will help you keep everything organized.  You’ll be getting a lot of mail from colleges and universities.

6.  Get a Planner. This will help you keep track of important college dates and deadlines (i.e. college fairs, ACT and SAT registration dates, college application deadlines, scholarship deadlines, etc.)

October – November

1.  Attend more college fairs. You can find a college fair near you by visiting the National Association for College Admissions Counseling website or by asking your school counselor.

2.  Take the PSAT. This test is typically given in mid-October.

3.  Start searching for scholarships and other ways to pay for college. Some scholarships that awarded to graduating seniors require students to apply the summer after junior year.

4.  Start to understand your student loan options. Spend time learning about eligibility requirements for federal and private student loans.

5.  Schedule campus visits. Before you start the college application process, you should have a pretty good idea of what campus life is like for each of your college selections.


1.  Review your PSAT exam scores. You should review your PSAT exam scores with your guidance counselor and parents.

2.  Take the ACT at least once. Testing dates are in the following 6 months: December, February, April, June, September, and October.  Talk to your guidance counselor about registration, fees, dates, and times.

3.  Take the SAT at least once. Testing dates are in the following 4 months: January, March, May, and June.  Talk you your guidance counselor about registration, fees, dates, and times.

January – February

1.  Narrow down the characteristics that you want in a college. Here are some things to consider:

  • Public vs. Private;
  • Community College vs. 4-Year University
  • Large vs. Small
  • Rural vs. Urban
  • Close vs. Far Away from home
  • Tuition and Fees
  • Student/Teacher Ratio
  • Academic Curriculum
  • Reputation
  • Housing Options
  • Selectivity

2.  Learn about FAFSA. Spend some time learning about the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Form.

3.  Continue searching for scholarships. In addition to online scholarship search engines, check with your local organizations in your community, your parents’ employers, and organization specifically related to your intended field of study.

4.  Register and study for the SAT and/or ACT (if you haven’t done so already).


1.  Narrow your list of colleges down to 10 schools. These should be the schools that you are seriously considering submitting an application to.

2. Use Spring Break to visit between 3-6 colleges on your list. Be sure to schedule a meeting with a financial aid officer during your visit. Consider arranging an overnight visit or sitting in on a class.

3.  Talk as a family and determine how much you are willing to spend on a college education. Approximate how much each school on your list will cost.

4.  Contact each school’s financial aid office to discuss payment options. Do they offer payment plans?

5.  Keep up the college discussions with your family and guidance counselor. This will help ensure that everyone stays on the same page.

6.  Get any remaining college-related questions answered. Take a look at the list you made back in September and make sure you have addressed everything.

7.  Begin working on college admissions essays and scholarship applications. Take this time to be proactive and avoid the last minute rush.

 April – May

1.  Meet with your high school guidance counselor to discuss your senior year class schedule. Again, check to make sure these classes meet necessary college requirements.

2.  Register and study for the SAT and/or ACT (if you haven’t done so already).

3.  Take Advanced Placement (AP) Exams, if applicable. These exams are generally taken during the first couple weeks of May.

4.  Start looking for a summer job. This will allow you to save extra money for college.

 June – August

1.  Continue searching for ways to pay for college. Check out these scholarship search engines online:;;;

2.  Talk to your parents about visiting campuses over summer break. Campus tours are the best way to get a feel for what a college is really like.

3.  Continue working on your college application essays and scholarship essays.

4.  Start thinking about potential college majors. Seek out job shadow opportunities in the career fields that you might be interested in.

5.  Decide who you’ll ask to write your letters of recommendation. Teachers, coaches, counselors, work supervisors, and/or community leaders who know you well generally write the best recommendation letters.

6.  Work to improve your reading, writing, and vocabulary skills, these skills will come in handy throughout your college career.

Junior year is a very important year in the college admissions process, but if you follow these steps, study hard, and stay proactive, you’ll be on your way to making your college goals a reality!

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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