While you may have traveled the world in the past two months, now you’re back to reality—and school. Worried about what you need to get done this year? If you are a high school junior, here’s a handy checklist, with a little help from The College Board.
□ Want to take a wild guess about what you should do at the beginning of the year? Yep, have a one-on-one with your counselor. Junior year is extremely important to colleges, so you want to make sure you’re right where you need to be.
□ If you didn’t take the PSAT/NMSQT last year, be sure to take it in October. Your counselor can help you register. Don’t forget that not only is the PSAT/NMSQT a great warm-up for the SAT, but a high score could also qualify you for the National Merit® Scholarship Program (http://www.nationalmerit.org). Be sure to try some practice tests before the big day arrives.
□ It’s time to get serious about the college search. As a starting point, write down all the things you’re good at, things you want to learn and any preferences you have for a school.
□ Start a list of all the colleges that can offer the interests and preferences you just wrote down. Try to get a mix of large and small schools, as well as public and private ones. The more, the merrier … you can trim the list later on. You might also want to bookmark their websites, get on their e-mail lists and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter, if you haven’t already.
□ Plan trips to the colleges on your list. Seeing them all in person will help you narrow down the ones that are right for you.
□ Keep financial aid on the brain. Go back to that online financial aid calculator to estimate college costs versus what you’ll be eligible for.
□ Register online (http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/reg.html) to take the SAT in the spring. Don’t forget to visit My College QuickStart (http://www.collegeboard.com/quickstart) to create a study plan and take practice tests.
□ Request applications from schools that you’re highly considering applying to. Keep in mind that some colleges’ application deadlines are earlier than others.
□ Don’t lose momentum! Next summer is yet another chance to pick up a cool internship or volunteer gig for insight into a potential career.
While college may not be for everyone, this is the time to start thinking about your career after high school. Your junior year is the perfect time to also check out careers in the trades or the military. Check out http://careersinthemilitary.com/ or http://www.chooseconstruction.com/. You can also explore careers through My Career Builder on the NJ Next Stop…Your Career website, http://www.njnextstop.org.