School Counseling » Juniors


Junior Year  

The college search begins.


  • Take the October PSAT. This is the practice test for the SAT. (PLAN is the practice test for the ACT.)
    1. A particularly high score on the PSAT/NMSQT earns you money from the National Merit Scholarship, National Achievement  Scholarship Program (for African-American students), and/or the National Hispanic Recognition Program.
    2. After you register for the PSAT, sign up for (free) “My College QuickStart” at It is a personalized online college and career planner. It has four main parts: My Online Score Report, My SAT Study Plan, My College Matches, and My Major & Career Matches.
  • College mail will start coming in after you take the PSAT.
    1. 1180-1320 SAT range (EBRW+math)
    2. 25-30 ACT range
    3. 3.67-4.44 GPA of the 19 core classes above, based on weighted 5 pt scale.
    1. Online, search for the college’s “freshman profile” - this describes the school’s typical admitted freshman to give you an idea of its selectivity. Remember, average scores are different from minimum requirements.
    2. USC profile (for example):
    3. Need help with your college search? Big Future by The College Board  and College Scorecard by the US Department of Education has college search and planning tools.
  • Take the SAT and/or ACT test once or twice in the late fall or spring.
  • Register Online: ACT Registration and SAT Registration
    1. You will have at least one score entering your senior year.  You will be added to college mailing lists and this gives significant information to the colleges you are considering.
    2. If you are applying to a highly competitive university, you may be required to take SAT 2 subject tests. (SC colleges generally don’t need them.) You can find out if your potential college requires this online or by asking a school counselor
    3. ACT has ACT academy to practice and a useful planning resource.
  • At your IGP meeting, your counselor will tell you if you are on track with your courses, grades, and testing.
    1. You can get college credit for AP classes courses, and they look good on college and scholarship applications.
    2. Request a copy of your unofficial transcript at the end of the year to visit colleges.
  • Visit college campuses (campus tour, visit with advisors/faculty, pick up admissions packet). Research college application requirements
    1. Location - If you stay in-state, if you qualify for the SC LIFE scholarship, it can be worth $5000/year, but go ahead and visit an out of state school as well.
    2. Size - USC Columbia has 26,000 students. Would you rather start at a branch campus or technical college? There are bridge and transfer programs to start at a small school and move to a bigger environment a following year.
    3. Institutional type - public/private, religious affiliation
    4. Cost and financial aid - Don’t necessarily rule out private colleges before you see the financial aid package, as it may surprise you. When you plan a college visit, meet with the financial aid office.
    5. Academics
      1. Major and degree programs
      2. Teaching styles and student/faculty ratio
      3. Retention/graduation rate
      4. AP credit
      5. Undergraduate research
      6. Study abroad
      7. Ability to change majors
    6. Outside the classroom
      1. Clubs and organizations
      2. Intramurals
      3. Internships
      4. Athletics
      5. Housing
      6. Dining services
      7. Greek life
      8. Service/volunteering
    1. Start thinking about what matters the most to you in selecting a college. Pick about five to ten colleges that may appeal to you.
  • Make connections with teachers and counselors. Make yourself known to them so they can write an enthusiastic, illustrative letter of recommendation.
  • Reach out to college-educated family, friends, and important advisors.
    1. Ask for advice and support through the process.
    2. You may have to tune out a naysayer/negative person. You may even be potentially among the first in your family to apply to college. Do it!
    3. Keep driven friends close (the ones that are going to keep you on track and motivated).
  • There are different types: merit, state, grants, work-study, loans
    1. In February/March, attend local college and financial aid workshops.
    2. Discuss financial aid with your school counselor at your IGP meeting.
  • Create your Organization/Filing system (on your Google Drive and for papers). Being organized will keep the process from getting unwieldy.
    1. #1. colleges of most interest,
    2. #2. Colleges of some interest, and
    3. #3. Colleges of little interest. I probably would not throw anything away. You may end up switching colleges from one section to others as you go through the process and learn more.
  • Make folders on your computer with the following files and file college information into:
    • Writing samples - essays resumes biographical narratives
    • References - letters of recommendation, student activity info
    • Academic documents - high school transcript, original test scores (PSAT, SAT, ACT)
    • Scholarship outreach - scholarship forms and tracking notes
    • college visitation - campus visitation forms and tracking notes
    • Financial aid- copy of FAFSA, SAR, supporting documentation
    • College notification - all college acceptance and rejection letters
    • College selection - college selection forms and notes
    • Freshman transition - freshman transition forms and notes
    • Miscellaneous - all other documents
  • Your academic record can either help or hurt your chances of gaining admission to your colleges of choice. Take solid elective courses (additonal math, science, world language, social studies, computers, etc). Run for leadership positions in the organizations that you are involved in at school and in the community. Get involved in extracurricular activities.Volunteer in your community.
  • Attend an ACT/SAT preparation workshop and/or utilize some of the online tools available to help you prepare). Click HERE for ACT/SAT Prep Information
  • Get to know your high school counselor and Career Development Facilitator (CDF)/Career Specialist. Let them get to  know you and your goals, career aspirations, and the college/military pursuit you are considering, etc.
  • This is the time to consider your options and decide what you are going to strive toward after high school and what timetable you will follow in order to reach that goal. To help with this ask yourself the following questions.
    1. Am I ready to commit myself to two/four more years of school?
    2. Do I know what I would want to study in college?
    3. In what type of colleges am I interested?
    4. What are the important factors in choosing the right college for me?
    5. Have I talked to my parents honestly/seriously about my plans?
    6. Have I talked to my school counselor about my goals and plans?
    7. Do I have an interest in the armed service?
    8. Is on the job training, or internships required for my career choice?

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