4 Must-Do Back-to-School Tasks for High School Juniors News2america

Junior year of high school is typically an important year for college-bound teens since it’s the last full year admissions officers often see on transcripts submitted with applications.

Students have one year of high school left, he says, so it’s time to start thinking about where they are going next – whether that be college, a career and technical school, the military or the workforce.

As juniors go back to school, school counselors say parents can help steer teens to the following tasks to set the tone for the rest of the year.

1. Start to complete college admissions tasks: Juniors should make a list of colleges they’re interested in at the beginning of the year to have something to start with, says Liz Clark, a school counselor at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia. Parents can help with this.

That allows students to know what the expectations are at desired schools and what kind of classes they should be taking, says Brittany Hughes, another counselor at Lassiter. Most students’ schedules for this year are already set, but there still could be time to make adjustments, says Clark.

Families should start to plan college visits as well, since fall break and other school vacations are good opportunities for students to visit campuses while school is in session, says Hughes.

And students could set up a professional-sounding email address to use for communications with colleges and potential employers, and clean up their social media accounts, says Pepin, the Rhode Island counselor.

2. Prepare for the PSAT and PreACT: Juniors should take their prep for these tests seriously, says Tara Miller, a college and career counselor at Stephen F. Austin High School in Austin, Texas. They can use their results to practice and strengthen their test prep for the SAT and ACT and could use online resources, such as Khan Academy, to get ready.

Juniors typically take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in October. Hughes from Lassiter High says now is good time for juniors to review their previous results on the PSAT, make a plan and start prep.

3. Establish a rapport with school counselors and teachers: School counselors have tons of resources and can work through questions with students, says Misty Hawk, who also works as a counselor at Lassiter.

Teachers from a student’s junior year often write letters of recommendation for college applications, so students should get off on the right foot with these educators from the first day, says Miller, the Texas counselor. Students should arrive to class on time, participate and work hard – traits teachers look for when writing recommendation letters, not necessarily perfect grades.

4. Take school seriously: The Lassiter High counselors say attendance is a big deal. Just because juniors may able to drive and are upperclassmen now doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be at school.

Pepin says students shouldn’t dig a hole for themselves academically at the start of the year – and should start strong. That can help develop confidence.

While Miller says these college admissions activities are important and can set the tone for a successful junior year, teens shouldn’t stress too much about them, as that can be overwhelming.

Teens should work hard on their academics and on identifying their personal attributes and strengths – as being authentic will matter on college applications. That’s something parents can help with.

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