Your third year at McNary and this year, as a junior, you have so many important things to consider as you continue to plan for life beyond high school! Within this next academic year you will take your standardized tests, finalize your list of colleges or options you are considering for beginning a career. You will visit colleges and many of you will begin your college and scholarship applications. Get excited! This is a very busy year…but enjoy every minute. Have fun, but continue to work hard toward the goals you have begun to set for yourself. Surround yourself with people who support your passions and dreams and please always look for answers to the questions you are still unsure of in the College and Career Center. Mrs. Farris and your high school counselors are here to help!
This year you will probably be taking some of your most rigorous and challenging academic classes. Continue to study hard and do your best to maintain a strong GPA. If you find yourself struggling in a class take the time to talk to your teachers, ask questions and work hard to overcome the obstacles. Consider finding a group of friends you can study with to help give you motivation and accountability to be successful.
Colleges and future employers like to see a person who is committed. Look for ways to grow in the activities you are involved in. Consider taking on leadership roles or become more involved in the organizational planning of events rather than just a participant.
This year you will have the opportunity to take the PSAT again in October. If you are college-bound…Do it! Consider this as another opportunity to prepare for the upcoming SAT in the spring. The other reason to re-take the PSAT is that some scholarships require you to include your PSAT scores specifically from your Junior year (Sophomore scores will not be accepted). The National Merit Scholarship just one example of scholarships that require and use Junior PSAT Scores. If you choose not to re-take the PSAT test your junior year you will be limiting some scholarship or early college admission opportunities.
The fact is, the more students practice and become familiar with standardized tests the higher they score. Preparation is the key. When you practice, you begin to learn what to expect and the anxiety of testing diminishes.
Other ways you can prepare for standardized tests this year is to spend time taking practice tests. There are many opportunities to practice for your SAT, ACT and AP tests. As mentioned during your sophomore year checklist, you may prepare for the PSAT, SAT, ACT and many AP Tests by using your Oregon CIS (Career Information System) After signing into CIS, continue to your portfolio, click on the “Helpful Tools” Tab and then the “Learning Express – practice tests” tab. Continue to the College Prep Center and then choose which practice test you want to complete and get started.
Another great website to use is the Khan Academy website. Once you log in, you have access to most all standardized tests for the PSAT, SAT, ACT and specific AP Tests. This tool will also allow you to set up a practice test schedule to keep you on track as you prepare for each test.
Just as a note, unlike your Sophomore year, the district will not be able to pay for you to take the PSAT. If your family has a financial need you can apply for fee waivers to cover the fees. Fee waivers are also available for the SAT and ACT.
SCHEDULE AND TAKE TESTS
Make a plan for what tests you plan to take based on your preliminary list of colleges. Some admissions offices prefer certain tests (SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests). Make sure you are aware which tests are required for your top choice schools. Take these tests in the Spring. Remember, you will need to register for these tests several months in advance. Don’t put this off.
The College and Career Center will have representatives from public and private universities visiting McNary throughout the year. Take advantage of the opportunity to attend these visits and learn more about a variety of colleges and universities. Asking specific questions to college representatives can be helpful in determining where you want to attend after high school. Consider coming to these events with a specific list of questions you ask to representatives. All questions are important when you are determining future plans for college.
Not only should you take the opportunity of on campus visits at McNary, all students whenever possible, should consider going to visit the top 3-5 colleges of choice. Ask yourself the question…Can I see myself attending this school? Also, actually visiting the campus on an official tour will place your name in their system and it will be to your advantage when the time comes to apply.
CREATE A LIST OF YOUR TOP CHOICES FOR COLLEGES
Make a list of the top 3-5 schools you are considering. Begin researching. Use Oregon CIS to enter and compare all the different aspects of your top college choices. Everything from cost, programs offered, campus and student life considerations. You can find it all in CIS.
Also, connect with each top choice school by calling and/or emailing their Office of Admissions and have them send you information. During this conversation, also ask about specific scholarships that are offered at each college. Sometimes you really do have to ask specifically.
If you have questions or concerns about this part of your college planning make sure you are asking questions. Feel free to stop by the College and Career Center and speak with Mrs. Farris.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH
Researching could quite literally become a part time job. Not only are you researching about potential career and job paths you are interested in pursuing after high school, as you narrow your focus you can begin researching the best avenues to accomplish the goals you have. Using your CIS account you can research schools that will give you the training you need. Colleges, universities, trade schools are all great options for you to consider.
If you are college bound, you need to begin understanding the College Admissions process. Make sure you attend College and Career Fairs offered by the district. Attend Financial Aid and College Information nights at McNary when offered. And then research individual institutions you are interested in attending.
Also, your junior year you should begin considering scholarships options. There are millions of dollars in scholarships out there. Some based on need, merit, community involvement /volunteering, leadership experience or others simply based on personal interests. Take time to research scholarships your junior year.
It’s never too early to begin working on College and Scholarship Application Essays. Many schools and scholarship committees use similar essay questions each year. Begin rough drafts of essays. It will give you a head start as you head into your senior year. You will thank yourself down the road!
CREATE A CALENDAR/CHART NOTING IMPORTANT DATES AND DEADLINES
Anytime during your junior year, and as you narrow your college search, you will need to begin to make a calendar/chart for upcoming deadlines you don’t want to miss. Make sure you give yourself ample time to write admission applications, request reference letters and transcripts. Note October 1st (your senior year) as the day to file your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Make sure to research and then add specific scholarship application deadlines and testing dates as well.
More of the same this summer. College planning can be a lot of fun, but it really takes some work. Being at the end of your junior year you should begin to narrow and focus your direction…what your future goals are and where you see yourself after high school.
Continue researching specifics about the schools you are interested in, visit some campuses during summer break. Polish up your activities resume and stay involved in your community and activities of interest. You may also want to consider a part-time job or internship this summer. See what’s out there and available on our College and Career Center Job Board.
Finally, begin applying for scholarships , or at least finalize the calendar/chart you have been building noting deadlines that are important in the coming months. Remember this…if you spend a couple of hours preparing a $1000 scholarship application – if awarded the scholarship you will have just made $500 per hour! And after spending time preparing several scholarship applications you will realize it becomes easier. You can often “recycle” and reuse information as you move from one application to the next. Of course, it’s important to be a specific as you can in each scholarship application…but often times a little “tweaking” can allow you to use pieces of applications you already have completed.