For Juniors: The College Advice You Need

College looms right around the corner for all juniors: Here’s what you need to know.


Standardized tests, AP exams, GPA, and extracurriculars—junior year has a reputation for being the hardest year in high school as the final year of preparation before students start filling out their college applications. Knowing what to do and what to focus on in this final year is difficult, and the transition from junior year to senior year can be even more difficult to adjust to because of the pressure of college looming closer. So here’s the best advice, from the experts who’ve already gone through the ordeal themselves.

First, the most important thing you should be doing is meeting with your guidance counselors about college planning and asking them any questions you have about the process. They’re there to help you with all school-related matters and even write one of your recommendation letters, so meeting with them is also a beneficial way for them to get to know you better.

Second, juniors should continue focusing on their grades. Your GPA is an important factor involved when colleges review your application, and the higher it is, the better your chances are of getting in. Playing an active role in your current extracurriculars and vying for officer positions is also important to do to win over colleges, but it is crucial to find a balance between the two or else junior year will be even more difficult.


This is the conversion chart of a letter grade in a course on a 4.0 scale and 100 scale. Most colleges will calculate your unweighted GPA on a 4.0 scale. Since GPAs are calculated on an unweighted scale out of 100 at North, colleges will convert that to a 4.0 scale (Credit: Memory Maps).

“It is not completely false that juniors should focus on everything… But it’s important to remember that you’re a person before you’re an applicant, so it’s necessary to make sure you won’t fall apart under the strain of student life and personal life,” says senior Victoria Guan.

Third, it’s recommended that you create an easier schedule for yourself in senior year. Although juniors have already chosen their courses by now, it’s important to recognize that you need more ease in your schedule because of how time consuming prep work for applications can be.

By the end of the year, you will also receive summer homework from the guidance department.

Guidance Counselor Tortorice says, “The counselors will be meeting with juniors and their families on June 9th at 7 p.m. to give them a list of things they can work on over the summer.” It is highly recommended to go over the list properly and do the work to make your senior year easier.

Fourth, start thinking about who to ask for letters of recommendations and ask them in person in early June. 

“It’s really great to get teachers who you formed a nice bond with to write your [letters of recommendation] for you, but teachers would likely decline if they think they can’t do a good job for you, so don’t worry too much about that. Anyone that you feel knows about you as a person beyond ‘student you’ would be good and it’s a bonus if they taught you more than once,” says Guan.

Fifth, after junior year is finished, summer is the final time to put something else on your transcript, whether that be a job or a summer program. It’s also the time where you can get a head start on supplements and start drafting your personal statements for your applications, which is highly recommended since cramming them in before application deadlines only adds more stress to the college application process.

Juniors can choose to apply for summer programs to display their interest in a subject that they plan to major in. Summer programs are offered by many colleges, and applications are often due in the spring (Credit: Yale University).

“I recommend that juniors try to take advantage of the summer: craft an essay that you’re willing to at least share with someone for critiques, volunteer or work, and have some personal time or time with friends because the months back from summer will be hectic,” says co-salutatorian David Zeng.

The final thing to remember is the importance of maintaining a healthy mindset for the rest of your time in high school. Not only will this help you progress through the year, but it will also aid you in accepting that the college application process may not go as smoothly as you want it to.