Great Advice for Juniors Applying to College

The college counseling office is a place that every St. Thomas student is familiar with. Every student speaks with their counselor at least once a year, whether it is about classes or colleges they are applying to. (Photo by Nick Silva).

For Juniors looking at and applying to colleges, now through next fall can be a stressful, and at times, intimidating process.

On top of the already immense workload that they carry from school, there are also standardized tests, college visits and college applications to be completed. Here is some helpful advice for Juniors on how to go about the application process.

First and most importantly, keep your grades up. Although Junior year can be very demanding, colleges like to see consistency when it comes to grades. This does not mean that you have to earn straight A’s, but rather that you should stay consistent in the classroom and try to remain in the A-B range for grades. Of course it is important to do well in your core classes like math, science, and English, but also take your electives seriously and make an effort to do well in those classes to, because this shows colleges that you take every class seriously and with interest.

Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization that has partnered with the College Board to provide official SAT practice questions on their website.

Secondly, make sure to take the SAT and ACT. It is recommended that you take these two tests twice, so that colleges see that you are making an effort to do better on them the next time. When it comes to these tests, it is great to get a tutor or attend test prep sessions in order to prepare for the material that you will encounter on each test. A good place to get help and practice for the SAT online is at Khan Academy.

Thirdly, be sure to keep your counselor informed on your progress in applying to colleges. Let them know when you take the SAT and ACT and share your scores with them when you get them in the mail. It is also good to attend college visits at St. Thomas. Meeting with admissions representatives from schools that you are interested in helps a lot, and gives you a better feel for those schools. College fairs are great places to talk to admissions reps. Also, set up your Naviance account with your counselor if you have not already done so. Naviance can help you find colleges and narrow down your college search by matching your grades, test scores, and preferred major with schools that fit that criteria.

In addition to keeping your counselor up to date, it is even a good idea to see a guidance counselor outside of school for help on applying to colleges and writing essays for college applications.

Lastly, go and visit some colleges. The best way to find out if a college is somewhere that you can see yourself for four years is to go and check it out in person. The best time for this is when the college is in session, so that you can see the campus with students on it and things going on. Walking tours, shadowing students and talking to professors are all great ways of learning more about a college once you are on campus.

Good luck to you Juniors in your college searches and application process, and remember to not let this busy and stressful period get the best of you, so meet your deadlines and take everything day by day and you will be just fine.



James Grant is a senior at St. Thomas.