First off, congratulations! You are now officially an upperclassman. No, you may not get to sit in the slightly fancier (and I mean slightly) section of the cafeteria and all those other fancy senior perks, but you are moving up in the high school food chain, so good for you.
I thought I would start this letter off on a happy note, but don’t be fooled. As a survivor, I can tell you from experience, your junior year will be without a doubt your hardest year of high school. I am so sorry.
GPA: It all starts when they decide to hit you with your high school transcript, you know, the thing that combines every single grade you’ve ever gotten into your final GPA, class rank and so on. That’s right, that C+ you got in freshman year world history will drag everything else down. If your transcript happens to hit you as hard as it did me, get ready to put in some extra study time this year. Unfortunately, the grades you earn senior year are not even peeped by any colleges that you apply to, so junior year is your last chance if you want to pull up that GPA. (PSA: most state universities are looking for a GPA of anything from 3.5-4.0)
ACT: Of course, these colleges are also understanding of slightly lower GPAs if you have a rocking ACT score. I could probably right a novel about this bad boy. In fact, I’m pretty sure people have (probably wouldn’t hurt to pick up one of those). Back to the point, the ACT is the ultimate test of time management. Sure, you could be a natural genius in every subject and bust out those questions like a boss, if thats the case then I hate you. Nah I’m playin’ (not really). However, for those of you that are an average Joe or maybe just struggle in certain subjects (like moi) then the ACT is all about prioritizing your study time on test subjects that you know you can improve (for me this is English and reading). A super score in those subjects will improve your score as well as save you a lot of headache trying to improve scores that won’t change much. You could also take the SAT, which colleges still accept although many are moving towards the ACT. My suggestion would simply be to take the one that you think you can do better on. Lastly, start taking this test as well as practice tests THIS SUMMER. Trust me, you will appreciate having more chances.
AP Courses: Yes, your junior year is going to be jam packed, but don’t shy away from those harder classes. Not only do colleges love seeing AP and honors on that transcript, but you can also get college credit for these classes, which means less class time when you get to college. In addition, taking AP classes is the best way to get a taste of these subjects and find out just how interested you are in this subject.
College Tours: These can be some of the most fun, yet stressful experiences. If you visit a campus and absolutely fall in love, then congratulations. The main goal of these is to find a place that feels like “home”. Consider everything, including: internship opportunities, studying abroad, the size of the campus, the dorms, the food, the college town, sports, or anything else of importance to you. Each university is different and this is your chance to figure out what each has to offer, so start now.
Volunteer: In addition to AP courses, colleges eat up community service. They’re like, “oh dang, she’s a good person we should put her in.” Actually, I don’t know if they say that, but I know a person who has community service spicing up their resume will have a definite advantage over someone who doesn’t. In addition, leadership opportunities look great as well.
Breathe: You may not be able to see the stress awaiting you from behind your sunglasses at the moment, but trust me, come the first day of school you will thank me for this Holy Grail of advice (you’re welcome in advance). On the other hand, remember to keep some perspective. If your dream school seems to be fading out, then maybe it wasn’t the place for you after all. All you can do is give it your best, and after all, the college you attend is not nearly as important as the work you put in.
Good Luck! XOXO