How To Create A Junior Year Checklist Without Stress In 2023

Are you wondering what a high school junior should be doing right now? Then this post and the junior year checklist are for you.

Junior year is an important time that marks the halfway point of your high school journey. You begin preparations for the SAT or ACT. This is the time you need to begin to look at colleges and begin preparations for your application process. While you are at it, you need to ensure that your regular class work does not suffer else, you will be preparing yourself for a tougher senior year.

Meanwhile, we have created a junior-year checklist to make things easy for you. Also, we have made it simple to go through and know what to do, when, and how. There is no one easier way to approach the tasks ahead of junior year, and that is the reason we want to help you make this ride as smooth as possible with our checklist.

You could use our checklist to accomplish your planning and preparations while giving some time to your regular class work.

What Is A Junior Year?

According to Wikipedia, junior high, also known as the 11th grade, is usually the third year of a student’s high school period. Students in the 11th grade are by this time advised to begin preparations for college entrance examinations (ACT or SAT) and to begin making choices on the colleges they want to go to.

Why Junior Year is Important

Junior year is usually the most important year in high school, even though it doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. It can be best described as the “middle year,” lost between the excitement and fear of the first year of high school and the joy and bravery of the senior year.

This stage of your life is important because it is when you get to make significant decisions that could have major impacts on the next five years of your life and even beyond. It determines your career path, which is why you need to begin preparations for high school and be mindful of the decisions you make.

However, we have made a list of five major ways to make your junior high checklist and to help you understand all of these critical activities and decisions you have to make at this point.

Classes and Grades:

This is for your regular classes, and the grades you receive in your junior year selection of classes are very important. This is because it is the last full year of grades – the grades the college admission units will review while deciding your fate for the next four/five years.

Your teachers in this junior class will also play a good role, and if you’ve been with them on a personal level all this time, well, this won’t be difficult for you at all.
You will need your teachers to write you a letter of recommendation for college

Standardized Tests:

The junior year is filled with the most standardized tests. You begin with the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) early in the year.

These tests measure your critical reading, writing, and math problem-solving skills, and this is highly important for three reasons:

They serve as a good pointer and excellent preparation for the SAT test you will take by the end of your junior year.
When you have done well, your scores might qualify you for a select group of merit scholarships.
It gives you a chance to begin requesting information from colleges early.

If you have been taking advanced placement classes, you will have taken the AP placement tests by May. These tests are specially designed to test your knowledge of your chosen subject at the college level. And the results recommend that you receive advanced placement or college credit for the subject.
It’s important to know that over 90 percent of the colleges and universities in the United States recognize these exam grades.

Between May and June, you may have to schedule the SAT or ACT in the late spring or wait till the early beginning of your senior year.

Planning College.

Basically, junior year is a time to get organized for all that will lead you into your college years. This includes your mail, college fairs, and visits to your high school.

College planning can be quite tiring and deterring, and this is the reason you need to begin on time, so you don’t rush things in the process of finding the right colleges for you. This way, you will have a list of up to 10 colleges you can choose from

There are various resources online to help you learn more about colleges and make up your list. And while at it, consider looking at their academic qualities, ranking, recitation, majors and minors, job and graduate school placement tests, costs, and financial aid.

If you don’t find all the information you need using those resources, you can consider attending some college fairs and meeting with college reps.

Career Research:

You already have a career path you want to follow by this time, and this may have a huge impact on the list of potential colleges you will consider.

Even so, conduct research, take some career assessment tests, talk with your family and closer adult friends, meet with your teachers you are close with on personal levels, and meet with your guidance counselors too – all of these people can help in your career. Discuss this oath you are planning on and know what they have to say.

Your Portfolio Development:

When it comes to building your portfolio, it is never too early. You need to begin to document your education, accomplishments, and experiences.

You could begin by listing every one of your high school accomplishments and experiences, including your athletic and academic accomplishments, awards and honors, and every other one you could think of.

If you have had work or volunteer experiences, you need to add them too. Highlight any leadership roles and positions you have ever taken. Also, your hobbies and interests can come in this portfolio too.

This could be quite easy if you have it all in your head and are enthusiastic about developing your resume.

Finally, you can tell the kind of person you are. This portfolio usually includes your resume, your awards, and some other certificates. And then letters of recommendation and samples of your work – if any.

Why Do Colleges Look At Junior Year?

Normally, colleges care mostly about the grades from your junior year. It is the reason you need to put in your best effort to make excellent grades. This is mostly because they are your most recent grades, and the colleges you apply to use them to access you.

Simply put, your junior year grades give your potential colleges a great insight into your existing abilities.

Now, let’s move to the main thing.

How to Create a Junior Year Checklist Without Stress.

This junior year checklist should, however, be completed before high school junior year:

You need to meet your guidance counselor.

Do you walk straight past your college counselor’s office every day? Now is the time to stop in for a chat. Your counselor has helped countless students get admitted to college, and they can do the same for you. From helping you choose senior year courses that colleges require to advising on admission requirements to exploring ways to pay for college, your counselor is an invaluable resource who can show you how to prepare for college successfully.

Make a First Draft of Your College List

Junior year is a great time to start researching potential colleges and compiling your initial college list. For now, keep the list broad – you’ll have time to whittle it down over the summer, ideally after you’ve gathered more information about each school. Most counselors recommend creating a balanced list composed of safety, target, and reach colleges:

  • Safety colleges are institutions where your GPA, test scores, and class rank are above the average range of the most recently admitted freshman class.
  • Target colleges are institutions where your GPA, test scores, and class rank fall within the average range of the most recently admitted freshman class.
  • Reach colleges are institutions where your GPA, test scores, and class rank fall at the lower end of, or below, the average range of the most recently admitted freshman class.

Before adding a college to your list, be sure to consider whether it’s affordable and whether you can see yourself being happy there for four years. Factors such as a college’s size, location, amenities, and student life can be just important as academics.

Visit Colleges, In-Person or Virtually

Now that you’ve developed your initial list spend the rest of your junior year visiting as many campuses as possible. Take the official tour. Explore the campus on your own. Talk to students. Eat in the dining hall. It’s the best way to get a sense of what it’s really like to attend a college and gather the information you won’t find online.

If you can’t visit in person, most colleges have developed robust virtual tours that explore the highlights on campus, from classrooms to residence halls to student centers. No travel is required, they’re free, and you can virtually visit any time.

Attend College Fairs

Attending a college fair is an efficient way to gather information about multiple colleges at one time and connect directly with admissions reps – all without traveling to campus. Make a plan for how to get the most out of each fair, so you don’t get overwhelmed or forget important information. To find out about upcoming college fairs in your area, visit the NACAC college fairs website or the College Fair Guide. 

Discuss College Affordability With Your Family

The cost of college can have an outsized impact on your life for decades. That’s why it’s important to discuss college affordability with your family before you begin applying for admission. Choosing a college that’s a good financial fit is just as important as finding a college that’s a good academic fit.

If finances are a taboo topic in your house, here are some tips to help you start the conversation. Some items to consider:

  • How much can you and your family contribute to college?
  • Are student loans an option?
  • How much borrowing is reasonable (i.e., can be paid back within 10 years of graduation)?
  • Are prepaid college funds available, and if so, which colleges accept them?
  • Are strings attached to the support your parents provide, such as your attendance at a particular college?

These can be hard conversations, but they’re critical to avoiding surprise and disappointment at the end of the college admission process.

Learn About the Financial Aid Process

After discussing affordability with your family, you may decide you need help offset some college costs. Now is the time to get familiar with the process of applying for financial aid:

  • Find out some of the key terminology used in the process, including Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Expected Family Contribution (EFC), CSS profile, etc.
  • Explore the different types of aid and how to apply for them, including grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study awards.
  • Learn about the concept of net price (a college’s full cost of attendance minus any gift aid).
  • Research the specific financial aid application requirements at each college on your list, including the documentation needed and the submission deadlines.

The more you find out about the process now, the easier (and less stressful) it will be to apply in the fall.

Other Things You Must Know Include;

  • Get more into your extracurricular activities.
  • Device and make a college savings plan.
  • Work towards enriching your credentials – keep track of your awards, experiences, and volunteer or community service achievements.
  • Create your resume and continue to edit until you have highlighted every of your experience and accomplishments.
  • Now start preparing for your ACT exam. Talk to the right authorities – your guidance counselor, to ensure you are enrolled in all the courses required to prepare you for college.
  • Begin your college search!

Fall of Junior Year:

  • Continue to prepare for the SAT/ACT tests and AP exams as the school year begins.
  • Now Take the PSAT
  • Continue to stay on track with your regular classes and grades.
  • The college search begins…
  • Make a list of potential colleges you’d like to attend.
  • While you do that, continue to revisit and re-edit your resume throughout the year while you also get involved in activities to make it richer.
  • Now evaluate your education options: from vocational-technical school, career college, or two-year or four-year college and/or military college.
  • Early in your junior year, begin to research scores and GPAs at colleges that you are interested in.
  • Discuss careers with the right people to know which majors can lead you directly to them.
  • Made your list of potential colleges? Now begin to gather college information. You could do this by attending college fairs and nights and also college representatives that attend your high school.
  • Now, begin to plan campus visits.
  • Keep the dates for your upcoming test and exams in mind. You can do this by marking the dates on a calendar.
  • While at this, continue I’m getting involved in your extracurricular and volunteer activities.
  • Also, continue to build close relationships with your teachers because this will go a long way to help you when you need letters of recommendation.
  • Read! You can never read too much. No one has ever. This doesn’t have to be bout your career and field. Read widely. Expand your interests and read widely about them.
  • You can also apply for scholarships, as many schools allow opportunities for students in their junior years.

Winter of Junior Year:

  • Your curricular activities are important – so stay heavily involved and invested in them.
  • Continue to study for your ACT/SAT. You can never study more than required, so why study just a little?
  • Volunteer! Only if you know how wealthy this will make your resume even in the future.
  • Now, organize the college information you have gathered and begin to narrow down your college choices. Keep in mind the merit scholarship requirements for these colleges.
  • While at it, continue to discuss careers and their matching majors.
  • Now, while you still prepare for your standardized tests, research the test requirements for the colleges on your lists and register for them.
  • Know about financial aid? Now is the time to learn about it.
  • Find scholarships with low competition and apply for them.
  • Begin to plan for a productive summer and not necessarily one to have fun in and relax. Check for internships and keep their deadlines in mind.

Spring of Junior Year:

  • Now you should work towards getting an unofficial copy of your transcript. Your guidance should be able to email it to you. Or, if your school uses Naviance, it may be on it.
  • Remember to examine it for errors and pay close attention to your estimated class rank, GPA, and which courses you might need to complete in your Senior year so as to meet the probable requirements for certain colleges for a particular major.
  • Some schools allow students the opportunity to join their classes after winter breaks.
  • Now work on your schedule for attending this senior year.
  • Begin to consider ways to earn college credits through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, CLEP, or Dual Enrollment courses.
  • Still on your scholarship search? Yes, continue on it.
  • Now is the time to contact your teachers or whoever is writing your letter of recommendation.
  • Check for local scholarships in the guidance office before the school year ends.
  • Now apply for a summer internship or a job.
  • Set up appointments at your top college choices, comprising personal interviews, a tour of the campus, and a meeting with a coach.

Summer of Junior Year:

  • Narrowed your potential college list down to half the number it was earlier? Good! Now visit the top 5 on your list.
  • Then run the net price calculator for all the colleges you’re considering. Here’s how to do it – write these in the Google search box – “{college name} + “Net Price Calculator“ to find the NPC. You could have a clue how much it will cost you. And also how much it will cost the student in loans for each potential college.
  • Work a summer job just to enrich your resume with your experiences and then save money for college.
  • Use summer to build yourself up for the competitiveness that landing a college admission comes with.
  • Do you know anyone with college experience? Talk to them and listen to them talk about their experiences. We will recommend people who already have experience with the colleges on your list.
  • Now organize your financial aid information.
  • Begin to work on your college application essays now. Meet some of your close teacher friends and have them listen to you read and discuss the essay.
  • While doing all of these, continue to search for scholarship opportunities and apply.
  • Now inform your teachers or anyone else writing your letter of recommendation two weeks before you will need it.
  • Create a powerful personal statement for scholarships.
  • Now retake the SAT/ACT tests to improve your score.
  • Conclude your personal statement based on your junior year.
  • Research on FAFSA and write down all their deadlines, admissions applications, and scholarships. This should include both merit and state-based scholarships.
  • Keep track of your FAFSA and financial aid deadlines, and make sure to get the paperwork ready to go.


Junior years are important in your high school journey, and this is mostly because they could have a huge impact on your next five years and beyond.

We hope our tips and junior year checklist will help solve and answer all the questions you have about your junior year and getting into college.
We wish you the best!


What should I be doing during my junior year of high school?

Your junior year is an important time to focus on your academics, as it can greatly impact your college admissions chances. You should be taking challenging classes, getting good grades, and preparing for standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT. Additionally, you should be getting involved in extracurricular activities, volunteering, or working on a passion project.

Should I take the SAT or ACT during my junior year?

Many students take the SAT or ACT during their junior year, but it ultimately depends on your personal schedule and readiness. It’s a good idea to take at least one of the tests during the spring of your junior year, as you’ll have enough time to retake the test if necessary.

How can I prepare for the SAT or ACT?

There are many resources available to help you prepare for the SAT or ACT, such as official study guides, online practice tests, and prep courses. You can also find practice questions and tips online. It’s important to find a study method that works for you and stick to a consistent study schedule.

Should I start visiting colleges during my junior year?

Yes, it’s a good idea to start visiting colleges during your junior year. This will give you a chance to see what different colleges have to offer and to help you narrow down your list of potential schools. Make sure to schedule visits during the school year, so you can get a sense of what it’s like to be a student there.

How can I make sure I’m on track for college admissions?

To stay on track for college admissions, you should focus on your academics, take the necessary standardized tests, and get involved in extracurricular activities. You should also begin researching colleges and creating a list of schools that you’re interested in. Additionally, you should start thinking about your personal statement and other college application materials.



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