As a high school junior, your days are jam-packed with classes, homework, and extracurricular activities. Add in an afterschool job and spending time with friends, and it’s no wonder you’re ready to crash every night.
So, if you’ve pushed off prepping for college, we get it—focusing on something 18 months from now feels overwhelming when you’re just trying to get through your next class. However, this spring semester may be one of the most important semesters of your high school career when it comes to the college application process. By putting in the hard work now, you’ll ensure that your dream schools take notice, and you can erase some of your senior year stress.
To get a head start on your college pathway, here are six important steps every Apex Learning Virtual School (ALVS) junior should jump on now.
- Put in your best academic effort. Your junior year grades will be the final ones you submit with your college applications next fall. Even if you’re hit by spring fever come April, this is no time to slack. Strive for those all-important As and Bs, and if you are struggling, be sure to seek help from ALVS teachers and Student Services Specialists. You can also order and download ALVS Tutorials to master those subjects you’re currently stuck on.
- Start planning your senior schedule. All colleges expect incoming students to have completed three to four years of math, science, English, and social studies, but the requirements for each school and major can vary. One university may require you to take a calculus or physics class for admission, and another may require more than two years of a foreign language.
Meet with your counselor now to review the admission guidelines for those colleges you plan to apply to and adapt your senior class schedule as needed. In addition, if you’re a student-athlete planning on competing at the collegiate level, ensure that you’re meeting the NCAA core-course progression (10/7) requirements.
For an extra advantage, consider enrolling in Advanced Placement® courses through ALVS. AP® courses prepare you for the rigors of college-level coursework, as well as help you build the critical-thinking, problem-solving, and scientific-reasoning skills that admissions counselors are looking for. In many cases, AP classes allow you to earn college credits while still in high school.
- Book your college visits. One positive from the pandemic is that most colleges and universities have built interactive virtual visits into their websites—complete with daily webinars with admissions counselors, chat availability, online campus tours, and student videos—which have been extremely beneficial for students with limited time and financial resources.
Take the time to explore all the schools that interest you, and once you narrow your choices, schedule your in-person visits over your spring and summer breaks if possible. Due to social distancing, most colleges limit the number of visitors each week, so the earlier you get on their calendar, the better.
- Take or retake your ACT or SAT exam. Although 75 percent of colleges currently don’t require ACT or SAT scores for admission, we recommend that you still have a score ready to go. Colleges may change their requirements as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift, and many ask for test scores for class placement if you live out of state or if you’re pursuing a certain major. Test scores can also be required for merit scholarships. To better prepare for these standardized tests, consider our College Readiness Tutorials for the ACT® or SAT® exams, which can help deepen your understanding of complex concepts and address possible learning gaps.
For a limited time use Promo Code: TestPrep to get the SAT or ACT bundle for just $49 each.
- Follow your interests. Good grades aren’t the only thing that catches an admission counselor’s eye. Admissions counselors want to see well-rounded students who will embrace the available opportunities at college and contribute to the campus community. As a virtual student, you have more flexibility to pursue your interests and hobbies outside the classroom, whether you’re on the sports field, on the stage, or in an arts studio. During the summer, consider volunteering for your favorite cause or shadowing someone in your chosen career field to boost your experience and skills.
- Start getting your applications in order. Depending on how many colleges you’re applying to, the fall submission process can feel like a part-time job. The sooner you start, the better prepared you’ll be. Together with your counselor, you can ensure that you have all the pieces in place:
- Common App – More than 900 schools accept Common App, allowing students to apply to multiple colleges at once using one platform. You can begin reviewing the application at https://www.commonapp.org/ and gathering the information you need for submission.
- School-specific applications – If your colleges of choice don’t accept Common App, be sure to review their submission guidelines closely.
- Letters of recommendation – There’s no better time than now to request letters of recommendation from your teachers, coaches, and other mentors. By giving them more time, they can better write a recommendation that celebrates your incredible achievements!
- Your college essays – After the spring semester is over and you take a much-needed break, put some time into your college application essays over the summer. While the Common App essay prompts for 2022–23 won’t be available until August, the current list can provide a starting point to think about when crafting your first draft.
- Financial aid information – Before this school year ends, work with your counselor to gather scholarship resources, organize financial aid information, and lock in on FAFSA documents and deadlines.
As an ALVS student, you have a team of supporters ready to help you stay on track this semester and steer you toward the right courses to take your senior year. If you have any questions about your current classes or the college application process, message our Student Support Specialists through our online chat or call us at 855-550-2547.